May 7, 2020

China’s farmers borrow from the streamer’s playbook: They’re going live

With supply chains disrupted, they have no choice but to pitch their flowers and pineapples on video.

Last month, Wuhan’s deputy mayor, Li Qiang, got down to business: He plopped himself in a sales room with packaged pastries and beef, and he began rattling off sales pitches to a live-stream audience.

The show looked like something out of a home shopping channel from the ‘90s, but it worked like a charm: After 9 hours of campaigning, Li sold $2.5m in local goods.

Shopping cams are big business

As we covered on Trends last year, China’s live-streaming economy is a multibillion-dollar industry.

Companies offer their products to influencers, who sell them to fans. One Connecticut CEO sold $350k worth of handbags in 2 days on Taobao Live, a live-stream shopping channel.

Some of the world’s glitziest companies, like Louis Vuitton, have hopped on the trend, but now a new group is taking over: farmers.

With supply chains disrupted, Chinese farmers have no choice but to pitch their flowers or pineapples straight to consumers. They hope the streams will keep the agricultural sector rooted in place.

It’s hard to get more D2C than this

In exchange for a small commission, the Alibaba Group is recruiting Chinese farmers with free live-streaming slots. Taobao Live has already raked in 50k+ signups from rural farmers.

In some cases, according to the MIT Technology Review, farmers have gone from selling 10% to 90% of their produce online.

Live-streaming isn’t the only way that farmers are hashing out a solution to their growing food surplus.

In March, South Korean ranchers partnered with local governments to launch a website that offered huge discounts on spuds.

And lest you think US farmers haven’t tried their hands at remote sales pitches: The US Meat Export Federation has been sponsoring slots on South Korean shopping channels, including one in celebration of “American Pork Day,” in an effort to unload extra bacon.

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