Live Stream Shopping: A Game Changer for South Korea | Eye on Asia

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Live streaming is by no means new. There have been well-known platforms that cater to this social experience for some time now, particularly in the gaming sector. Among them are Twitch, Discord, and more. However, as social media audience shifted their attention to video content, live streaming attracted consumers' interest, sparking a trend that has completely changed the way people shop.

Live streaming shopping, sometimes referred to as live stream commerce or live selling, is a recent phenomenon that has swept through Asian customers. Basically, it gives consumers the chance to watch a product being shown in real time rather than relying just on written descriptions or pre-recorded videos, giving them a more thorough grasp of the product's suitability. Business owners are also benefiting from this trend, as it enables them to build hype around their products and interact with customers in real-time while doing so from the comfort of their own homes.

South Korea, one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, has enthusiastically embraced the live-streaming shopping trend and is transforming the shopping experience for its citizens. 66% of people make a weekly purchase online, and by 2022, it was projected that the spent consumer goods for online shopping was at KRW140 trillion. Completely transforming the shopping landscape in the country. 

The demand for online shopping was boosted by the popularity of Live commerce, now accounting for 2-3% of the online shopping market in South Korea with sales estimated to grow from KRW 3 to 10 trillion in 2023.This will likely manifest with the help of live-streaming shopping as in the city of Seoul alone, six out of ten consumers have already made purchases through live commerce or TV home shopping-style mobile platforms. 

Naver and KakaoTalk, two of the leading social media platforms in South Korea, swiftly responded to the rise in demand brought on by the pandemic, which encouraged people to shop online and resulted in a 76% increase in live commerce purchases worldwide. These platforms launched their live commerce services, collecting low commission fees from sellers (Naver, for instance, collects 3% of total sales) while providing accessible tools and techniques for content creation and production.

For sellers in the South Korean online market, Naver and KakaoTalk present significant potential on their live shopping platforms, as both platforms are the leading search engines in the country. Notably, Korea is renowned for its trendy apparel and beauty products, with these categories leading in sales. According to an Ipsos survey, 63% of Korean respondents purchased apparel or beauty products after watching an online video or live stream in the past three months.

On June 30, 2023, YouTube launched its official shopping channel for live commerce in South Korea, considering it a prime test market as Google aims to become more "shoppable." This move followed the observed boom in live-streaming commerce in the country. The new channel is a 90-day project operating in Korean language.

Other giant platforms like TikTok have also joined the trend, which is no surprise given that its parent company is based in China, a thriving marketplace for livestream selling. In 2022, the live shopping industry in China was expected to exceed 400 billion USD. TikTok has a solid user base compared to other platforms, its users are nearly twice as likely to have purchased products they've seen on the app—up to 67% of users admit that the app inspires them to shop when they hadn't intended to do so.

Southeast Asia is another area in the region that has embraced this dynamic shopping environment. TikTok has indisputable success with live shopping, with its Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) increasing more than fourfold to reach an amazing 4.4 billion USD in 2022, according to a Ninja Van survey conducted throughout Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. According to Tech Wire Asia, the GMV for 2023 is expected to be 12 billion USD.

One of the most significant advantages of this new shopping method is its live engagement. By offering a superior user experience, allowing hosts to use or demonstrate products while answering customer queries in real-time, it significantly increases the likelihood of making a purchase and quickly became a global mainstream phenomenon and that is likely to remain the preferred method of entertainment and shopping for the online audience.

Learn more about what's trending in Asia! Check out our other Eye on Asia blogs where you can discover the Celebrations of Love in the Asia Pacific Region, you can also check our educational blog post and learn The Role of Panel Research in Enhancing Patient Experience in the Healthcare Industry. See you in our next one!

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