Business / Industries

Net stars redefine e-marketing

By Meng Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-28 08:00

Eating hot pot and streaming the "event" live on a smartphone app could be an effective way of marketing a restaurant-that's what Wu Guoxu, owner of a chain of 13 restaurants in Shenzhen, realized recently.

Wu invited a young, married couple to use live streaming apps to showcase the environment at his restaurants and the food there.

Surprisingly, the strategy attracted hundreds of new customers. In the following weeks, Wu's chain pulled in about 35,000 yuan ($5,255) more than normal as word spread near and far about the great hot pots at his restaurants.

"It was beyond my expectation. The young couple are neither superstars nor celebrities. But they do have thousands of online followers. I guess e-marketing, by way of reality TV-like streams where hosts offered honest comments about our food, worked magic," Wu told China Daily.

Live streaming from his restaurants lasted about 90 minutes. The two so-called internet stars sent out some virtual red envelopes containing coupons that users could redeem at Wu's restaurants. About 82 percent of the couple's viewers who claimed the coupons eventually showed up and dined at his restaurants.

"The rate is higher than any other digital marketing methods we use. We do have an official WeChat account, which sends out coupons from time to time, to maintain existing customers. But how to lure new customers had always puzzled me," he said, adding he will consider using live streaming more often.

Wu's restaurants are not alone in this regard. A growing number of businesses are riding the wave of live streams. They are using internet stars to attract new customers.

For example, cosmetics are peddled on's streams whose content includes tips and advice on putting on makeup, interactions with consumers, and Q&As with potential customers in real time.

In a sales event in June, e-commerce major even invited internet stars to live-stream the way famous restaurants cook lobsters, in order to boost online sales of its seafood.

"Internet stars have the potential to reshape how young people spend money. They offer more than mere entertainment, and have real power to boost commercialization of a product, service or concept," said Cao Lei, director of the China E-Commerce Research Center in Hangzhou.

He said by combining the trendy live streams and internet celebrities, e-commerce owners can not only gain loyal fans but expand the influence of their brands via the social networks of such celebrities.

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