China fines influencers

Since the priority is to “Common prosperity In China, the rich and famous have an interest in paying their taxes in due form. On Monday, December 20, one of the country’s most famous influencers, Viya, aged 36, was fined 1.34 billion yuan (186 million euros) for tax evasion. His live streaming account (live video sessions) on the Taobao sales platform, owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba, disappeared following the tax announcement.

Beijing has given its Internet stars ten days to get into good standing by the end of 2021. A further blow for Alibaba and the main online video sites and applications, Kuaishou and Douyin, already targeted by a series of regulatory measures since the end of 2020.

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The sum of the fine imposed on Viya (Huang Wei in civil), gives an idea of ​​the billions brewed by the main influencers. In recent years, “teleshopping” on the Web has captured a significant portion of online commerce, to the point of ensuring about 11.7% of sales in 2021, against 3.5% in 2019, estimated a study by the eMarketer company in June. Douyin (Chinese version of the TikTok platform) and Kuaishou popularized new practices on the border between entertainment and consumption.

Growth drivers

Created in 2016, Taobao Live has come to ride this trend by offering to integrate live streaming into its e-commerce activity. The audit firm KPMG estimated the sales volumes linked to live streaming at 1 trillion yuan in 2020. A welcome growth driver for the platforms, which have hired “super KOL” (« key opinion leaders », “Opinion leaders”): Alibaba has thus signed contracts with the champions of teleshopping 2.0, Viya and Li Jiaqi (also called Austin Li).

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At the last singles party in November, Viya alone sold 8.5 billion yuan worth of products in one evening. These “super KOLs” are so popular that they can impose significant discounts on brands that ask for them. They also rely on thousands of lesser-known presenters to promote their products on a daily basis. In July, the French ambassador to China, Laurent Bili, himself delivered an intervention in a direct from Viya, to promote French know-how and support the French brands.

The call to order of KOLs will cost Alibaba dearly, which lost 5% on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday and Tuesday. “Live streaming is the fastest growing segment for e-commerce, explains Michael Norris, analyst for AgencyChina, a Shanghai-based consultancy firm. Viya has been blocked by Alibaba. If it was permanent, it would be a significant loss of revenue for Taobao Live. Last year, the two stars Viya and Austin Li contributed between 20% and 30% of the platform’s sales. »

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