China’s E-Commerce Slows Down as Celebrities Turn to Xiaohongshu for ‘Quiet Selling’

Taiwanese singer Annie Yi is the latest celebrity to start “quiet selling” on Xiaohongshu. Here’s why Chinese consumers are gravitating towards these hours-long livestreams. 

“The reason why you can’t use it now is not because you are not worthy, but because you haven’t discovered your greatest talent yet.”

That’s what Taiwanese singer Annie Yi said as she introduced expensive skincare products in a recent livestream. Instead of justifying the thousand-plus yuan prices by emphasizing the scarcity of the ingredients — or worse, berating women for not having the financial means to afford the products, as Li Jiaqi did during his infamous livestream — she reminded viewers of their self-worth.

Quiet selling, which describes this slower-paced, storytelling-oriented style of livestreaming, has gained traction in China this year. The trend is taking off just as the country’s economic growth slows, consumers tighten their purse strings, and Gen Z shoppers seek respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Taking a refined approach, Yi’s debut livestream on Xiaohongshu was a hit. In the almost nine-hour long broadcast on September 6, the 55-year-old star attracted over 1 million viewers and achieved a turnover of nearly $6.8 million (50 million RMB), topping the platform’s livestream sales chart.

Another case of “quiet selling”

The livestream was not the usual fast-paced peddling of products; rather, it felt like an intimate sharing session. Yi divulged some of the more personal details of her life, such as her turbulent childhood and how she supported her family after her father’s passing, along with some words of advice as she showcased the different items.

“Don’t change yourself. Create yourself,” she said to viewers. “Don’t empty yourself to love or be loved. All your efforts are to fill yourself up and enjoy your life.”

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