The 618 shopping festival was started by JD.com in response to the massive success of Alibaba’s Singles Day. The livestream-centric shopping event features hosts like Kris Wu, Li Jiaqi, and now, a score of international diplomats.
This week, government executives from 16 countries appeared on Alibaba’s Tmall livestream event. Representatives from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and Uruguay logged in to generate interest in their countries’ specialty exports.
According to the Global Times, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit racked up the most sales this year. He gave a mangosteen-peeling tutorial that sold out stock of the fruit in seconds. Buyers went on to purchase 5,000 durians, 20,000 coconuts, and 3,000 bags of fragrant rice from Thailand’s official online store.
The consul-general of South Korea in Shanghai, at second place, sold 120,000 ramen packets and 18,000 bags of Korean dumplings.
The whole stunt is part of Alibaba’s strategy to leverage celebrities and influential figures in order to draw viewers to its platform; during China’s “shopping festivals” especially, intense competition among e-commerce giants Alibaba, JD, and Pinduoduo tends to generate some innovative strategies.
Since launching in 2010, the 618 festival consistently generates billions in sales. This year’s event comes at a critical juncture, as China works to jump-start its economy after the Covid-19 pandemic.
To compete with Alibaba’s platform’s reach of over 700 million viewers, JD partnered with short video giant Kuaishou, which boasts over 300 million daily users. Users could buy products they saw in Kuaishou videos without leaving the app.
This wasn’t the first time a diplomat appeared on a shopping festival livestream — Pablo Obregón, consul-general of Argentina in Shanghai, sold red shrimp from his home country on Pinduoduo earlier this April.