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Li Jiaqi, aka Austin Li, earned his ‘lipstick brother’ nickname by trying on various make-up products on his show. Photo: Getty Images

Top Chinese live streamer sells nearly US$2 billion in goods in 12 hours in run up to Singles’ Day shopping festival

  • Li Jiaqi, aka Austin Li, pre-sold US$1.9 billion in products in a marathon 12-hour live-stream
  • The show attracted nearly 250 million views – a record for any show live-streamed on Alibaba’s Taobao online marketplace

China’s Li Jiaqi, a top live-stream salesman widely known as the “lipstick brother”, sold US$1.9 billion in goods on the first day of pre-sales leading up to Alibaba’s annual shopping festival, as the country’s consumers splash out despite an economic slowdown. Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post.

Li, who earned his nickname by trying on various make-up products on his show and is also known as Austin Li, pre-sold 12 billion yuan in products ranging from Shiseido lotions to Apple AirPods, according to preliminary data compiled by e-commerce data specialist

Li’s sales are a record for any show live-streamed on Alibaba’s Taobao online marketplace, according to data. He has also survived a recent regulatory crackdown on androgynous pop idols and others who don’t conform to the country’s gender norms or express a more feminine style.
Live-streaming is part variety show, part infomercial, part group chat – a format pioneered in China that’s grown more popular since the pandemic started. Li’s show lasted a marathon 12 hours – the first day of China’s more than three-week “Singles’ Day” shopping binge – and attracted nearly 250 million views, Taobao showed.
Li at a Louis Vuitton spring/summer 2021 event on August 6, 2020 in Shanghai, China. Photo: Getty Images

“Normally we have about 20 million views a show daily, but we got 250 million today, all the girls, where are you emerging from?” Li said in a post on Weibo, a microblogging site.

Although the final sales from the presale show are likely to be lower as some shoppers cancel items ordered during the early session, the number shows the growing strength of China’s innovative e-commerce sphere in the face of hurdles including ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

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Viya, another top live-streamer, sold about 8 billion yuan worth of goods on the same day, in a show that lasted 14 hours, while another star, Cherie, had sales of about 1.2 billion yuan, according to

An Alibaba spokesperson declined to comment on the sales data, and neither the company – or the live-streamers themselves – release such information.

“The consumption enthusiasm is very rampant,” said Jason Yu, managing director of research firm Kantar Worldpanel Greater China. “Top-tier live-streamers are getting more and more concentration in the market.”

Li with Chinese actress Yang Mi. Photo: @TrendingWeibo/Twitter

Alibaba debuted Singles’ Day – which began as a shopping festival celebrating men and women who aren’t in relationships – in 2009 on November 11. It has since been expanded to grow into a nationwide marathon of frantic bargain-hunting that dwarfs US sales events like Black Friday (the Friday following Thanksgiving Day) and Cyber Monday.

The 2020 edition posted sales of US$75 billion, a frenzy of Chinese consumption despite escalating regulatory scrutiny over the country’s internet sector.