China’s sole remaining livesteaming powerhouse, Austin Li, dubbed the “lipstick king” in the West for selling 15,000 lipsticks in five minutes, dipped his toes in luxury selling again ahead of this year’s Singles’ Day shopping festival.
He promoted two watches from Vacheron Constantin: a limited-editon China exclusive Égérie pink gold lady’s style, retailing at 151,000 renminbi, or $21,778, and a Fiftysix self-winding steel men’s style, priced at 94,000 renminbi, or $13,577. He also promoted a Happy Sport lady’s style from Chopard, asking for 49,600 renminbi, or $7,153, during his streaming session on Monday.
More than 10 million Taobao users tuned in for his session, during which he promoted a wide variety of products, ranging from food and cosmetics to pillows and accessories.
The Chopard watch can be purchased straight away, but the two Vacheron Constantin styles can be only preordered by placing a 10,000 renminbi deposit. So far, the Égérie had one reservation, while the Fiftysix had 11 orders.
The push for luxury watches comes after a period where Li had been focusing on more affordable products since he reappeared on Tmall in September.
He went missing on June 3 after triggering China’s elaborate censorship system when he promoted a tank-like ice cream product a day before the 33rd anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest.
Prior to Li’s disappearance, he had worked closely with several top luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton and Bottega Veneta to help the brands to maximize their online reach when China’s strict COVID-19 rules led to pockets of lockdowns across the country.
Several luxury watch brands have set up online flagships on the Alibaba-owned Tmall recently, especially after the landmark alliance between Farfetch, Alibaba Group and Richemont was formed in 2020.
But a survey conducted by Alix Partners showed that faced with economic uncertainty, Chinese shoppers’ appetites for luxury items are low.
For the “luxury goods or watches and jewelry” category, only 16 percent of survey respondents planned to increase spending, with 39 percent of surveyed consumers having no plans to purchase luxury goods at this year’s event.
The survey also found out that the format of livestreaming, one of the most popular mediums for Singles’ Day in recent years, is losing steam this year.
“Only 74 percent of surveyed consumers say they will watch or participate in livestreaming this year, down from 97 percent last year,” the report said.
Li is still the most influencial livesteaming figure nevertheless. According to local data agency Morketing Research, on Oct. 24, the first day of preorder sales, Li attracted more than 450 million viewers, double that of last year’s Singles’ Day.