Lately, China regulators seem to be determined to take the “FUN” out of internet environment. They began to seriously clamp down on vulgar content, and in particular, finger pointed one live streaming short video app Kuaishou for “disrupting order” in the online entertainment industry.
So what is Kuaishou exactly? Founded in 2011, the company started as a photo sharing app, but in 2013 it tweaked its business model to live streaming short video sharing and since then its success has been phenomenal and unstoppable. According to certain statistics, Kuaishou is, in fact, the fourth largest social app in China, only trailing behind Wechat, Weibo, QQ, accumulating 700 million+ user accounts, 100 million + daily active users, loaded with USD 1 billion funding led by Tencent; in a nutshell, a peculiar unicorn valued at USD 18 billion.
So what is Kuaishou’s secret recipe exactly? Answer: user-generated content sizzling with vulgarity, obscenity, and absurdity. Or some simply conclude that this app collects all the idiots in China and offers a kaleidoscopic overview of lunatic performances in real time. What do we mean by that? Maybe just look few examples below:
-a maniac and awkward dancing, the performer actually curated over 500,000 followers
-A middle-aged woman conducted self-torturing behaviors on daily basis, eating things from broken glasses to wiggling worms
-a half naked man, with undaunted courage, sets off firecrackers between his legs from time to time, attracting more than 400,000 fans within a short time span
-A teenage couple who chronicled their love, fight, sex, unexpected pregnancy and parenthood via live video broadcasting, caught the bulk of attention and stirred the viral trend of “who wants to be the youngest mother in China?” Their accounts should be completely shut down by the regulators now.
Our examples should end here. We do not intend to stand on the high moral ground to judge. The point is these types of content are essentially making the kuaishou so addictive and adhesive for users. Though it is estimated that every week two billionaires can be born in China, being self-made instead of from multi-generational family inheritance, the odds of becoming one are still akin to winning a lucky lottery, given the size of 1.3 billion as a denominator. Perhaps around 800 million of the population can be still counted as less educated in the low-income category without any hope of climbing the social ladder. For them, the never-ending circus show of insanity running on Kuaishou 24 hours is what they are looking for. It can either give them a cheap and hilarious laugh after a long day drudgery or inspire them to be one of the grass-root KOLs as it is a shortcut to generate a lucrative monetary return. It is said during the heydays of the teenage couple mentioned above, they could earn at least RMB7 million annually.
Many local experts believe the keywords to summarize the mainstream China internet culture are centering about “Low and Raw”. If taking these elements out, how far can Kuaishou keep going? The video landscape in China has already become a white-hot battleground, spawning new breed of players every year. Up-and-coming entrant like Douyin, powered by Toutiao (an AI-driven personalized media platform which by the way is also under severe criticism and scrutiny by the regulator these days), has quickly become a rising star in this ecosystem. Though Douyin can be defined as less vulgar compared with Kuaishou, its user content production would hardly touch upon the concept of “Elegant” or “Classy”.
Many brands realized that video might be the most important awareness tool for product discovery or direct conversion, nevertheless Chinese internet culture can impose quite a challenge to build a high-end video branding strategy. Based on a local survey, the majority of users from Kuaishou and Douyin prefer fun/wacky humor types of short video. So how can you feed such mentality with fun without playing the dirty tricks? Time to think about.
Author: Cecilia Wu