Taobao leverages livestreaming to boost rural development

Image credit: Colin Hui |

Taobao is leveraging its livestreaming technology to help incubate 1,000 key opinion leaders in China’s countryside in an effort to boost rural development. By helping farmers go online, Taobao aims to enable farmers to find new markets and customers from their homegrown products.

Taobao Marketplace, part of the Alibaba Group, is social commerce platform in China that offers consumers an engaging, personalized shopping experience, optimized by big data analytics. According to Analysys, Taobao Marketplace was China’s largest mobile commerce destination in terms of gross merchandise value in 2017.

Taobao’s target is to boost the livelihood of 1,000 farmer livestreamers from 100 counties in China by helping them each generate over RMB10,000 (US$1,489) in monthly income. The idea is to drive online sales of local agricultural products via livestreams conducted by the newly minted rural KOLs – the farmers, themselves. To promote this new initiative, Taobao plans collaboration with county-level governments to highlight local points of interest and expand the popularity and recognition of various villages participating in the livestreaming.

Last year, Taobao hosted more than 150,000 agriculture-themed livestreams, which drew over 400 million viewers. Taobao innovated the “Live on the Farm” model, featured with agriculture livestreamers, key opinion leaders (KOLs), and even local government officials from counties to join livestream sessions and promote their local goods. In January 2019, Taobao’s “Live on the Farm” seven- day online sales campaign generated over RMB9.35 million (US1.39m) in sales, right ahead of Chinese New Year, a prime gifting period in China.

Many agriculture livestreamers tasted their first success on the platform last year, including Chen Jiubei, who has helped farmers in her hometown in Hunan province sell up to 2 million kilograms of previously unsaleable oranges in just 13 days last winter.

Taobao also coordinated with county-level governments to provide a suite of livestreaming marketing services, including seeking out and training livestreamers, as well as identifying local selling points. With more than 60,000 distinct livestreams on agricultural products every month, Taobao is committed to driving RMB 3 billion (US$447m) in sales for the sector in 2019.

This month, Taobao will roll out livestreams that introduce the source of a range of agricultural products, helping viewers discover the local landscape and customs where their products come from. In addition, Taobao also plans to partner with CCTV, Hunan Television and Zhejiang Television to develop livestreaming shows that invite pop stars and celebrities to participate in poverty-relief activities, aiming to generate more public awareness for underprivileged areas.

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