Thais flock to livestreaming sales to grab bargains

18, Nov. 2021

Thailand's live streaming sales offer not just good bargains but also entertainment and fun chat with influencers and celebrities. (Photo: NNA)
Thailand's live streaming sales offer not just good bargains but also entertainment and fun chat with influencers and celebrities. (Photo: NNA)

By Valaiporn Chalermlapvoraboon

BANGKOK, NNA - As Thais flock to the internet to shop during pandemic lockdowns, one engaging element with interactive chat and irresistible bargains has become a big hit.

Welcome to livestream shopping which is also seen as entertaining showtime to Thais as they look forward to banter with social influencers and celebrities touting interesting consumer items from beauty products to electronics at attractive prices for a limited period only.

Facing sluggish sales and the threat of closure, more businesses have turned to online platforms and live streaming to promote sales directly to shopping app users in Thailand’s fast-growing online market.

Well-versed in product knowledge helped by marketing scripts designed to hook buyers quickly, the sales promoters try to influence their audience with their gift of the gab during airtime on social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

From the comfort of their home, customers can take part in a streaming session that interests them. Shows have featured new electronic gadgets, furniture, gym equipment, cuddly pillows and imported snacks - anything that can benefit the life of a consumer one way or another, as well as make a good conversation item.

Some shoppers were even addicted to the sessions. Like Natthawika K., a senior accountant officer, who prefers to go to livestream sales to snag better deals compared to shopping in malls.

“Recently, I bought a good quality top with a nice color for only 99 baht ($2.98) from a livestream on Facebook,” said a senior accountant, Rung, adding that the ridiculously low price was exclusively offered to watchers only on that particular day.

Another bargain hunter, Kanokporn C., a senior marketing manager, said, “I got a pretty good deal from a livestream on Instagram when I bought a Korean skincare product for only around 1,000 baht, down from its original price of 3,000 baht.”

“The store also offered a discounted price for a perfume for around 1,000 baht, way below the original 4,000 baht price tag,” she enthused.

In recent quarters, pinching their pennies has become the norm for many Thais as debt levels shot up.

In the second quarter, the country’s total household debt hit a worrying record high of 14.2 trillion baht ($429 billion), accounting for 89.3 percent of the total GDP, said the Bank of Thailand.

During the same period, consumer confidence expectedly plunged to the lowest level in almost 23 years, according to the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce.

The confidence index plunged to 39.6 points, continuing a descent from 47.8 earlier in January. This was caused mainly by the extended lockdown and curfew measures to tackle the spike in coronavirus infections.

Consumers were spending much less as they became more mindful when it came to forking out money, noted Ipsos Research.

They were more willing to spend when prices were discounted such as during a promotion, according to Krungsri Research. This was especially so for essential items like food, personal care items and cleaning products.

Live streaming first gained widespread popularity on e-commerce and social media platforms such as Taobao and Douyin in China several years ago.

But for Thailand, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are the main platforms for livestream sellers so far.

Thailand’s live-commerce sales have grown immensely as the number of livestream sessions increased by 300 percent in Q2, up from the previous quarter, said Chananan Panchasub, the country manager of Hongkong-based e-commerce and social commerce management business, Shopline Thailand.

Thai consumers spend an average of two hours and about 1,000 to 3,000 baht when visiting a social media commerce platform, he said.

One small livestream seller said she once sold about 8,000 baht ($244) worth of second-hand branded products within four hours, and made a profit of 3,000 baht from the 60 orders that came in.

For sessions hosted by big-name celebrities and influencers, revenues could surpass 1 million baht within a day, said analysts.

A prominent Thai livestream seller called Pimrypie has reportedly made more than 150 million baht in sales in five years.

Mainly active on Facebook, Pimrypie usually garners a minimum of 100,000 watchers each time for her promotion of affordable, fast-moving food products such as seafood snacks, instant noodles, vitamin drinks, sausages and diet-coffee, as well as her own line of beauty products like perfume and makeup.

Earlier this year, the influencer said 16,000 orders poured in within an hour in one show, netting 8 million baht (over $244) in sales.

Another prominent live-streamer is a movie actress Cheeranan Manochaem who reportedly achieved 3 million baht in sales within three hours of promoting a wide array of items, from apparel and sunglasses to snacks and beverages.

Pressured by sales targets and increasing business rivalry, livestream players have made their shows more entertaining by adding props and performances to keep audience attention.

One of them is “Jackie Jacqueline” who has gained more than 1 million social media followers with the help of her talking cactus doll. Together, they have sold cosmetics, bubble milk tea, gym equipment, instant noodles and plush dolls to their many fans.

Meanwhile, e-commerce giants like Shopee and Lazada of Alibaba group have hopped onto the bandwagon to introduce their livestream platforms in Thailand.

The country has seen a huge, unprecedented growth in online shopping since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Krungsri Research told NNA.

In 2020, e-commerce in wholesale and retail trade in Thailand jumped by 48 percent, doubling its compound annual growth rate of 22 percent in previous years, said Krungsri Research, adding that the boom would continue this year with another 16 percent increase.

“Livestream selling is a unique characteristic of the Thai market and some ASEAN countries,” Japanese market research firm Hakuhodo International (Thailand) told NNA.

“The main factors are the interactive communication that makes people enjoy watching with a sense of hunting for a promotional deal that they can catch only at that moment. Some sellers can create an outstanding character in their livestream, resulting in a large number of fans and sales with their word of mouth,” it added.

However, with the reopening of malls, shoppers are more inclined to enjoy an onsite experience after feeling cooped up at home for months.

“Businesses owners and marketers should seek more opportunities from revenge spending trends,” advised Hakuhodo.

“Online business owners and marketers can seek ways to attract more customers by holding attractive promotional campaigns. These could include free delivery or Buy-1, Get -1-Free offers to increase sales via the online channel,” it added.

Earlier this week, the Thai government reported positive news of the economy contracting less than expected in the third quarter as businesses achieved a slow turnaround. Also, a much wider reopening of the country to international tourism this month has raised hopes of a steady recovery.

The government upgraded its economic growth forecast definitively to 1.2 percent this year, up from the previous range of 0.7-1.2 percent.

It projected 3.5-4.5 percent growth next year with expectations of widespread vaccination and pandemic restrictions easing, including further reopening to foreign visitors.