Residents from Shanglin county in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region sing local folk songs during a livestreaming activity to sell local farm goods on March 24, 2020.
Residents from Shanglin county in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region sing local folk songs during a livestreaming activity to sell local farm goods on March 24, 2020.
Xinhua/Lu Boan

NANNING -- Holding a tin of jasmine tea, Hong Ben worked very hard in front of the camera. Through a livestreaming app on his mobile phone, Hong introduced the quality and flavor of the tea. Hong is not an ordinary livestreamer, but the deputy head of Hengxian County in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Apart from jasmine tea, Hong also promoted other local specialties like papaya pickles and potted live jasmine, as well as the unique ethnic culture and natural scenery of Hengxian County.

As China has tailored policy toolkits to help spur growth at home, many grassroots level officials have recently turned to video-promoting local farm products in a bid to gain a rebound in consumption.

For county chiefs, it was an unconventional yet practical means to promote online, in that ordering and delivery services had become a pillar of daily supplies for city dwellers during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Hong said that a tag of "sold out" always gives him the greatest delight, adding "it means that our products have been accepted and welcomed all over the country and have a good market."

Residents from Shanglin county in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region talk about local farm goods during a livestreaming activity on March 24, 2020.
Residents from Shanglin county in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region talk about local farm goods during a livestreaming activity on March 24, 2020.
Xinhua/Lu Boan

Fifty-four counties in Guangxi have joined the live sales hosted by government officials and attracted over 30 million viewers in early April, according to the regional commerce department.

Among those who recently joined the trend, Wu Juan, deputy mayor of Guangxi's capital city Nanning, tasted and recommended local delicacies in front of a cellphone camera and performed folk songs and dances to boost sales. "The epidemic hit many enterprises hard, especially the catering business," Wu said.

"One of my duties is to help them. And I've been more than happy to recommend our best and safest items via livestreaming platforms," Wu added.

These officials, mostly middle-aged, picked up buzzwords and internet slangs popular among younger netizens in a bid to attract more viewers.

"Let's countdown -- three, two, one, here comes the (product) link!" "Send in the screenshot, sweetheart, and y'all get a discount," said Hou Gang, deputy mayor of the city of Liuzhou who kept using catchy touting expressions, turning far-flung viewers into frequenters.

During a two-hour livestreaming, Hou sold more than 3 million yuan (about 424,000 U.S. dollars) worth of products, including 43 Liuzhou-produced electric vehicles.

Local entrepreneurs also praised the officials for selling local produce. Qin Lijun, the assistant general manager of a Guangxi-based fresh food brand, told Xinhua that the live shows gained more attention from consumers and led to real sales growth.

Qin Xia, CEO of a tea enterprise in Hengxian County, said that Hong's hit show provided the company an opportunity to run the brick-and-mortar store and explore the online market simultaneously.

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