Live shopping user penetration in Southeast Asia

Following the release of our recently published Social Commerce in Southeast Asia report, one question we’ve gotten concerns the share of internet users in the region who shopped through live shopping at least once in 2022. We’ve pegged that figure at 44%, which a few of our readers found higher than they had expected.

It’s a number that had stood out to us before we wrote the report,when we were doing our secondary research, and one we continue to find remarkable.

Our first reaction, as that of some of our readers, was that it feels too high – that 2 out of every 5 internet users can’t possibly be using live shopping already! But when we did our own research – including a survey of nearly 2,000  respondents across the region – the answer landed mid-way through the public sources we had researched. The exhibit below benchmarks our estimates against some of these public sources for 2021,the latest year for which comparable data is available.

Another way to sanity-check these numbers is to look at what’s happening in China, a market some would consider the original home of live shopping. In 2020, about 30% of Chinese internet users were said to have used live commerce, a number that grew to 45% in 2021. Given that a lot of growth in live commerce in Southeast Asia has been inspired by China, and nowadays especially with many live shopping streams being broadcast directly from China, it isn’t unbelievable that Southeast Asia should follow in China’s footsteps.

Beyond just the numbers though, two big trends of the last few years also give support to these estimates:

  • First of course is COVID, which locked up many of us indoors, driving up the consumption of live video as well as the money being spent on live shopping. Many of these live streams were hosted on Facebook, but marketplaces such as Shopee and Lazada also launched and heavily marketed live-video channels to their users.
  • Second is the growth of TikTok in 2022. One would have thought that as COVID restrictions get relaxed in 2022, consumers would start spending more time outdoors and reduce their video consumption. But TikTok had other plans. With a strong emphasis on live shopping, the app has disrupted the Southeast Asia e-commerce landscape in 2022, drawing many users to its e-commerce experiences which rely heavily on live shopping.

Our view of the live shopping user penetration in Southeast Asia then, is based on all the data we have found. Have you seen something we missed? Let us know.

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