Short video app Douyin has finally welcomed its first-ever blogger with over 100 million followers — @疯狂小杨哥 (Crazy Little Brother Yang) — who has now surpassed viral fitness livestreamer Liu Genghong and renowned actor Andy Lau in popularity on the platform. Each of his videos has amassed at least 2 million likes.
Yet, he is not the pretty-faced influencer that some might imagine. Yang is a 25-year-old guy from the eastern Chinese province of Anhui, who often shares videos of funny pranks he does with numerous family member characters that he plays: an internet-addicted twin brother, an authoritarian tiger mother, a henpecked father, his gentle and quiet wife, his hard-faced sister-in-law, and a lazy golden retriever.
Despite the videos being low resolution, filmed with basic technical prowess, and featuring characters that are frequently in their pajamas, they are beloved by young netizens aged between 18 and 30. “That’s because we are looking for something lighthearted to detox ourselves from a stress-heavy work and social life,” commented Rebecca Jiang, one of Yang’s 100 million-plus followers.
In May 2020, Yang’s popularity on Chinese TikTok skyrocketed as the short video maker started selling goods via livestreaming. Most products are instantly snapped up, from chopsticks priced as low as $0.42 (2.99 RMB) to bedding as high as $1,400 (9,999 RMB).
Thanks to a funny but sincere presentation, Yang has quickly built a rock-solid reputation among online shoppers. According to Chanmama data, in the past three months, an average of 36 million people tuned into his live broadcast room. Sales for each livestream ranged between $3.5 million and $7 million (25 million to 50 million RMB). Earlier this month, the entertainer was even appointed the new spokesperson for domestic car brand Aeolus (东风风神) to reach younger consumers. Clearly, the tech giant ByteDance, which owns Douyin and TikTok, has cultivated its new juggernaut to drive traffic for the upcoming Double 11 shopping festival.
However, with new players like Bilibili joining the race, the game is getting more and more saturated. But, it is also far from reaching its limit. By the end of 2022, China’s livestreaming sector is projected to reach $180 billion (1.2 trillion RMB) in revenue with a total of 660 million viewers. This figure is expected to grow more in 2023, reaching $720 billion (4.9 trillion RMB) as per iResearch’s report.
The field is lucrative but can this short video platform carve out a sizeable slice of the pie? Compared to Alibaba’s Taobao — which boasts celebrity anchors Li Jiaqi, Luo Yonghao, and Liu Genghong for its Singles’ Day bonanza — livestreaming newcomer Douyin urgently needs to create its own “Lipstick King” to consolidate its position. Will Yang be the key to capturing those local Gen Z shoppers?