Five consumer psychologies behind Tiktok’s live eCommerce myths

Editor: Guo
Publish date: 28th Feb 2021
Reading time: 3-5 minutes (optimally additional video of 5 minutes)

Internet celebrity live broadcast is a brand new way for e-commerce to attract attention and increase revenues. It has produced phenomenal internet celebrity anchors such as Li Jiaqi and Wei Ya, who have become typical symbols of live e-commerce in Tiktok in China (Hu, 2020). Local officials have also rushed to the front line of live broadcasts to endorse local products, which has become a new phenomenon during the new crown pneumonia epidemic. 

Live E-commerce via Tiktok (source: Youtube)

Live e-commerce has become an important economic and cultural phenomenon in just a few years after its emergence in 2016 (Xiao, Guo, Yu & Liu, 2019). From a consumer perspective, what kind of psychological factors are driving this behaviour? Through the analysis of a large number of consumer interviews, the editor summarised the five consumer psychologies of consumers watching live e-commerce.

The first type is practical consumption. 

Watching online celebrity live broadcasts can not only save the time cost of consumers’ choice, but also helps consumers buy better quality products at a lower price (SCMP, 2020). This kind of consumption mentality was the most popular in Taobao, where live e-commerce first emerged. Later, Tiktok live shopping also explored this mentality. Saving time and buying cheaper products are the two major demands of consumers.

Source: BBC (2020)

The second type is social consumption.

This type of consumption is not only for practicality, but also for social needs and sharing by watching live e-commerce, which in turn generates purchase behaviour (Chen & Cai, 2020). Consumers watch online celebrities live e-commerce to retrieve relevant product information by understanding how the internet celebrities introduce the characteristics of the products and how other people talk about the products. During the e-commerce live broadcast, consumers can interact with the anchor and users by sending a bullet screen. The information obtained through the live broadcast can also participate in the exchange of related topics on other occasions, and can also share experiences with friends after shopping.

(Recommended reading: “Social commerce grows with TikTok/Shopify deal (WARC, 2020)”)

The third type is fan-based consumption.

Commodity attributes such as price and applicability are not the main goals of this type of consumption. More audiences become live e-commerce platform users because of star chasing (Zuo & Wang, 2019). For example, on April 1st 2020, Luo Yonghao (a superstar amongst entrepreneurs) made the first live broadcast on Tiktok. Under his popularity and influence, during the 3-hour live broadcast, the total payment transactions exceeded 110 million CNY, and the cumulative number of viewers exceeded 48 million (CGTN, 2020). Set a new record for the live broadcast of Tiktok.

(Recommended reading: “Tech company founder taps into e-commerce live streaming, $15.5 mln sales done in 3 hours (CGTN, 2020)”)

The fourth type is scene-based consumption. 

Even if they don’t buy anything, many women regard shopping as a pleasure. Watching online celebrity live broadcasts can be regarded as a “shopping” in a virtual cyberspace (Xiao, Guo, Yu & Liu, 2019). When consumers enter the “shopping” scene, even if they don’t buy anything, they can still feel the fun of “virtual shopping”. Live e-commerce is an integral part of real-life scenarios. During the epidemic, the “shopping-style” scene consumption of live e-commerce has become an important alternative to offline shopping.

Source: Digital Information World

The fifth type is emotional consumption. 

This refers to shopping behaviour based on specific emotions (Hu, 2020). For example, on April 8th 2020, the first live broadcast of Tiktok’s Mayor live board broadcasts event. Li Qiang, a member of the Party of Wuhan Municipal Government, walked into the Tiktok live broadcast room to introduce the situation of Wuhan’s economic restart and the resumption of work and production, and recommended good shops with sales of 17.93 million CNY that day (BBC, 2020). Tiktok’s huge traffic and influence has once again pushed local officials’ live broadcast of e-commerce endorsements to a climax.

(Recommended reading: “Coronavirus: Can live-streaming save China’s economy? (BBC, 2020)”)

As a new business form of live e-commerce, five consumer psychologies exist in parallel. Sometimes, the production of consumer behaviour may be a compound effect of two, three, or even four or five of the five consumer psychologies. Therefore, the consumer behaviour becomes more sophisticated and will require further and deeper discussions.


BBC (2020). Coronavirus: Can live-streaming save China’s economy? Source:

Chen, Y., & Cai, Y. (2020). The Research on the Influencing Factors of Consumer Information Adoption of Live E-commerce. Source:

CGTN (2020). Tech company founder taps into e-commerce live streaming, $15.5 mln sales done in 3 hours. Source:

Hu, Y. (2020). Research on the commercial value of Tiktok in China. Academic Journal of Business & Management2(7). Source:

SCMP (2020). Live streaming e-commerce is booming in China after the Covid-19 pandemic. Source:

WARC (2020). Social commerce grows with TikTok/Shopify deal. Source:

Xiao, L., Guo, F., Yu, F., & Liu, S. (2019). The effects of online shopping context cues on consumers’ purchase intention for cross-border E-Commerce sustainability. Sustainability11(10), 2777. Source:

Zuo, H., & Wang, T. (2019). Analysis of Tik Tok user behavior from the perspective of popular culture. Frontiers in Art Research1(3). Source:

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