The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has issued guidelines for streamers broadcasting in that part of the world, detailing the language choices and appropriate attire for content creators, as it looks to increase regulation of the industry. Among other guidance, MOFCOM has stated that talent should speak Mandarin on broadcast, and "dress in a way that is inoffensive to viewers", according to a report published by Reuters.
The move seems to be aimed at livestream marketing, which has boomed in China over the past couple of years with the market estimated to be worth $16b in 2020. Specifically, livestream marketing means large companies promoting and selling goods through influencer streams on their own social media channels, often hosted by China’s online shopping malls.
Chinese streaming market is massive
In 2019 alone 30% of Chinese citizens, or 430M, viewed an ‘e-commerce livestream’ at some stage, although there are concerns about faked traffic aimed at boosting viewer counts. That number grew to 560m, or 62% of China’s online population, by March of 2020, with influencers able to earn hundreds of dollars an hour promoting products to their audience.
However, the boom in popularity last year, in part prompted by COVID restrictions, led to some consumer backlash as customers accused streams of deceptive practices, prompting MOFCOM to begin drafting regulation in November of 2020, according to Reuters. The first set of regulations, published this week, are up for public review until September 2nd, and target not just preferred language and attire but also certain forms of prohibited content.
Ministry says: Dress well and behave
Alongside advice on speaking Mandarin and dressing smart come rules aimed at clamping down on deceptive practice, including hiding negative reviews, and false advertising of goods or services. It is also recommended that "vulgar" or "pornographic" content not be included on live streams, and standardize content and reviews across streams to make things easier for the consumer.
Alibaba’s Taobao Live is the largest platform in the sector, with around 80% market share, but other Chinese tech companies such as Baidu and JD.com have also made moves into the area. Douyin, China’s equivalent to TikTok, also has shoppable livestreams surfaced on their app, as does MOGu, a leading Chinese fashion platform.