How Austin Li Jiaqi and China’s biggest influencers were purged

It also changed the dynamics between influencers and brands. For one thing, if brands are dealing with live-streamers with small followers, consumers are unlikely to get the deep discounts that big-time influencers get. And instead of relying on a wide reach of influencers, many brands are now creating their own live-streaming channels. “This can be good news for brands, as consumers can go to their self-powered live-sessions,” says Jialu Shan, a research fellow at the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, but definitely bad news for consumers because they Can. Don’t miss the cheap deals that only live-streamers like Lee and Via can bring.

The fate of top influencers is also a clear indication that live-streaming e-commerce will not escape government scrutiny. “Big name celebrity KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) have evolved into a huge business and are now essential in e-commerce. But with multi-million dollar paydays and high visibility comes the risks of microscopic scrutiny and social media blowback, “says Franklin Chu, US managing director of marketing company Azoya International, who has worked with Austin Lee in the past.

In addition to tax liability and content censorship, livestreaming e-commerce influencers are also working with increasing regulations that hold them accountable for matters such as product quality control, properly reporting their sales numbers, and minors’ participation in live streams. Since 2020, the government has issued multiple regulatory documents addressing various aspects of the business, keeping a close eye on the industry.

While influencers like Huang and Xu have disappeared from the Internet, their marketing and business teams are struggling to stay in the industry. Both Huang and Zuna’s assistants have been influential. They claim they are no longer associated with companies that supported their celebrity ex-boss, but Chinese media have reported that they are still the same teams behind them.

If that tank-shaped ice cream look would end Lee’s career, perhaps his company Mayon would do the same. But no statement has yet been made by his team, tech platform or regulator, leaving the game of anxious waiting for its millions of fans. If it can return to its daily live streams, it will not only be its fans who are enjoying it: sellers and marketing agencies who have benefited from its popularity will join them. Franklin Chu says, “Assuming Azoya has worked successfully with him in the past and has not seen a dramatic decline in his marketing effectiveness, he will probably do it again.”

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