Bao Chunlai, a four-time gold-medal winning Thomas Cup badminton player, attracted more than 1.5 million views to his first livestreaming session on e-commerce giant Pinduoduo (PDD) this past weekend.
During the three-hour session, Bao shared his knowledge of sporting equipment, from how to choose badminton rackets to how to use foam rollers to release tight muscles. He also recommended percussive massage guns, sharing how he used one after wrist surgery to aid recovery. “I couldn’t straighten my hand after my surgery, this saved my badminton career,” he said.
While celebrity endorsements are commonplace in China, what is different with Bao is that he is also working with PDD and its extensive manufacturer network to create a new brand of sporting goods that both tap on his professional expertise and are also great value-for-money for consumers.
PDD has long been a pioneer of the Consumer-to-Manufacturer (C2M) movement, where consumer demand and preferences are aggregated through e-commerce to help manufacturers customize their product design prior to the manufacturing stage to suit different demographics and customer segments.
PDD’s New Brand Initiative has touched industries ranging from electronics to kitchenware to bedlinen, and this partnership with Bao marks an early foray into fitness gear.
Bao is also tapping on livestreaming, which has really exploded in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic as cooped-up consumers took to smartphones for a more immersive shopping experience. Other sports stars that have livestreamed on PDD include ex-NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury, who has his own store and brand of basketballs and sporting equipment.
PDD is promoting a different from of livestreaming e-commerce by encouraging makers and experts to get out in front of the camera to interact with the about 600 million consumers on the platform. Amateurs can get expert opinions from elite athletes like Bao about what equipment is most suited to their needs.
Expert advice is important especially for newer gadgets like massage guns. This is where the fusion of consumer insights, professional knowledge and manufacturing know-how can help consumers discover more suitable products with great value.
At the same time, the use of livestreaming allows a larger audience to learn about these products and the interactive question-and-answer elements make them more accessible to the average consumer.
For the weekend warrior, that may just make the journey to winning the Thomas Cup a little smoother. Or at least less painful.