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The State of Live Commerce: A Giant Phenomenon in Asia, Questionable in the Western

Live commerce
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In 2024, the world is experiencing a huge change in both online shopping experience and consumer behaviour. Online shopping has transcended into a mix of virtual and reality with the booming of live commerce, or live shopping. Well, not exactly the world, per se, as live commerce seems to thrive in one part of the world, while the rest is still trying to catch up to the wonder of live shopping.

Namely, Asia and the Western countries. We’ll talk about the live commerce growth difference in both regions, starting with understanding why live commerce is a most welcome feature to certain audiences.


What is Live Commerce?

When discussing the ever-growing live shopping popularity, it is imperative to understand its great origin. Live shopping was first widely popularised in China with the launching of Alibaba’s Taobao Live in 2016, officially changing the game for e-commerce marketing. 

Live shopping is quite literally the name itself, which is online shopping brought to life. It allows potential buyers to interact with the host and discuss the product in real-time. The transparency from the real-time interaction is a much-loved benefit of live shopping, as it prevents misinformation and gives the audience a clear picture of the product features.

Another plus point for live shopping is how well they’re integrated into the established e-commerce—or even social media. They successfully delivered an all-in-one media for a transaction to happen, right from the very beginning stage of product searching, discussion, to the transaction in just one tap away.


Live Shopping as The Dominating Force in Asia

China is, undisputedly, the biggest market share holder for live commerce, reaching $678 billion in 2023, and is forecasted to surge up to $1 trillion by 2026 according to Statista. One of the Chinese biggest live shopping influencers, Viya, sold a rocket launch service worth $6.3 million in 2021, proving the buying power of Chinese citizens in a live shopping session.

The popularity of live shopping was then pushed further due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, especially during the quarantine years. Live shopping provided a more trustworthy way of online shopping during the time when people were unable to go out for daily necessities. In the research by Karen Hao, live-streaming farmers gained popularity during the pandemic, making groceries rise to the number 1 live shopping category for Chinese citizens.

Live shopping has become tremendously popular in Asia due to the feature that allows the audience to shop more accurately regardless of time and place. In fact, Southeast Asia has fully adopted the consumer behavior that actively seeks online live streams to make a purchase.

According to Momentum Works, in 2022, just Indonesia itself has achieved a whopping total of $2.5 billion for TikTok’s Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV). Followed closely behind TikTok Live’s popularity is Shopee Live that’s quickly rising in fame among the Indonesian audience. Read how both TikTok Live and Shopee Live become one of Indonesia’s top marketing strategies.

Asian countries generally rely on industry and commerce departments, so it’s unsurprising to know that live commerce thrives in both China and Southeast Asia. It is safe to assume that by 2026, live shopping will be an inseparable part of the online shopping experience.


What’s Stopping The Westerners from The Beauty of Live Commerce?

Despite the outstanding growth of live commerce in Asia, Western countries don’t share the same sentiment regarding the excitement towards live shopping. According to McKinsey, there are only 5 to 7 percent of people in Western countries—in this case, Europe, Latin America, and the United States—that use live commerce as part of their shopping routine.

Such extreme difference is bound to raise some questions. Why is the Western audience seemingly not infatuated with the idea of an interactive, real-time online shopping experience?

The Western audience isn’t a stranger to the live-streaming concept, per se, yet they are used to treating live-streaming as entertainment. When you’re expecting a fun show to pass the time, being shoved into a product review would be the last thing you want to see. 

It quickly becomes understandable why the Western audience that does enjoy tuning in to live commerce treats it as entertainment, as stated in the McKinsey survey. The complete opposite of the Chinese users who adore live shopping due to its functionality. 

However, the lack of mainstream interest in live commerce from the Western audience doesn’t mean 0 possibility to grow (despite Instagram Live Shopping shutting down just 3 years into its release due to a failed attempt to attract the US market). After the pandemic, the US market has become more and more familiar with the term ‘live commerce’, it just takes a little bit more time for them to grow accustomed to it and catch up to the Asia market.


Live Is A Great Marketing Tool

Live commerce has proven its worth as a breakthrough in the Asian trade industry. Brands and companies flock to join the bandwagon of low-cost, high-revenue live commerce marketing. Though live commerce may make the sales rain, it is also important to note that building your brand is still the foremost thing to do as a business owner. If you need help to realize your ideal brand—by extension, social media too, Avond Studio is always up for a chat over brand, marketing, and design.

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