China’s popular virtual idols are joining with human live streamers to promote a growing range of brands and products
Spotted: Live-streaming eCommerce is big business in China, especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people eschew physical stores for online shopping. Now, live-streaming is merging with another trend – preprogrammed, 3D computer-generated models that use motion graphics to live-stream. A growing number of e-commerce platforms and brands are using virtual anime idols to attract a younger generation of shoppers.
In April, popular virtual singer Luo Tianyi, who has almost 4.6 million followers on Weibo, co-hosted a live-streaming campaign on Taobao, alongside one of China’s most influential live-streamers, Li Jiaqi. The duo also hosted a second show in May, which garnered almost 3 million viewers. On May 1, Alibaba’s eCommerce platform Tmall added virtual idols Luo Tianyi and Yuezheng Ling to a live-streaming event.
Then in June, Japanese virtual idol Hatsune Miku joined Taobao’s live-streaming platform as an ambassador for this year’s 618 midyear shopping festival. Taobao users could chat, dance, or take photos virtually with Miku. The virtual idols are usually displayed next to a human live-streamer, and help to describe the features of products.
A spokesperson for Taobao Live, the platform’s live-streaming arm, was quoted as saying, “Virtual and interactive entertainment is a hot trend nowadays. We are dedicated to introducing various pan-entertainment virtual hosts to enrich our content and innovate in user interactions.” In fact, there have already been several collaborations between luxury fashion and virtual idols. Givenchy, Marc Jacobs and Louis Vitton have all designed haute couture clothing for Miku.
Written By: Lisa Magloff