Livestream marketing, upgraded logistics drive sales of bananas in S China’s Nanning

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Bananas produced in Nanning city, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. (Photo from the website of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region)
Bananas produced in Nanning city, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. (Photo from the website of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region)

By Li Zong

Livestream marketing and logistics reform, as results of China’s ever-expanding e-commerce platforms and express delivery network, have significantly boosted the banana business in Nanning, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

As one of the main banana producers in China, Nanning used to encounter poor sales of bananas due to cyclical supply-demand imbalance and extreme weather events.

Fortunately, livestream marketing is employed by more and more banana farmers, which has effectively increased the popularity and sales of bananas on the Internet.

“As you can see, I’m standing right in front of a banana plantation. The Lady Finger banana produced in our Jinling township has a distinctive taste. It’s sweet, with a hint of sour flavor,” said Lin Zongjian, a banana grower in Xiaolin village, Jinling township, Xixiangtang district of Nanning city, on a livestream platform. While he was advertizing the fruit, a dozen of banana farmers were busy packaging in a nearby small bungalow. Just a day ago, Lin received over 6,000 orders of bananas during a livestream show, which meant these bananas had to be packed and shipped within a day.

The featured products, direct shipping from the place of origin, and immersive marketing all make Lin’s livestreams shows quite attractive for the viewers.

“I receive more than 5,000 orders almost every day during the harvest season of bananas, sometimes more than 10,000 orders,” Lin told People’s Daily.

“It takes perseverance to succeed in promoting products via livestreaming. I had few viewers at first, but my follower base gradually expanded as I kept hosting the shows and posting more videos. Now I have more than 100,000 followers,” said Lin, who became the first livestreamer in Jinling township in 2019. The man spends six hours a day livestreaming, which is a task he sets for himself.

Today, driven by rocketing market demand, Lin has set up four warehouses near orchards to collect bananas from growers and hired nearly 30 workers, who often need to work extra hours to package and ship products to buyers across the country.

“Some banana growers host livestream shows just like I do, and there are also many other banana farmers who cooperate with e-commerce companies and invite professional hosts to help them sell their bananas,” said Lin.

“As long as there’s demand, we don’t need to worry about the sales. There are several banana purchasing sites in our village. They pay us on the spot. My family has planted 92 mu (about 6.13 hectares) of Lady Finger bananas, and our annual output per mu is 2,000 kg. That’s a lot of money a year,” said a local female banana grower.

Lin believes the gradually lowering express delivery cost is a major reason for rural e-commerce entrepreneurs, including himself, to have achieved success.

In recent years, express delivery service providers have intensified efforts to expand their service networks in rural areas. As express delivery outlets have been set up in various remote areas and the charges for express delivery services have been gradually reduced, agricultural products have gained better distribution channels.

An increasing number of Chinese express delivery companies have started providing services in Jinling township, including China Post, Yuantong Express, and Best Express, according to Lin. He said China Post and Yuantong Express have established service stations in the township.

Nowadays, vehicles of express delivery companies are often seen running on the streets of Jinling township, taking local bananas on trips to every corner of the country.

“I tried to sell bananas via e-commerce platforms before, but it was rather difficult, as the orders were not coming in everyday. Besides, the delivery charge was almost as much as the price of the products, and it was too much for me,” Lin recalled.
 
“It’s totally different now. Since I learned to promote products on livestreaming platforms and other social media platforms, I have attracted more and more customers and eventually increased the number of orders. My business has grown very fast,” Lin said.

As long as their business reaches a certain size, e-commerce platforms and merchants will be eligible to cooperate with warehousing enterprises and express delivery service providers, which enables them to collect products in bulk at plantations, according to Lin.

Under such mode, products can be directly shipped to consumers from plantations with the least possible transfer, thus significantly shortening the distribution channel and enabling products to be delivered to buyers across the country within three days, Lin added.

Since the beginning of this year, more than eight million parcels of Lady Finger bananas have been shipped from Nanning via courier companies, and the figure is expected to hit 10 million by the end of this year, according to statistics from the Postal Administration of Guangxi.

“As more and more people are joining the livestreaming and video sector, I believe the cake of the Nanning banana business will grow bigger and bigger,” Lin told People’s Daily.

The man has so far opened multiple corporate accounts on livestreaming platforms to train new livestream hosts, and is also trying to advertise other agricultural products through livestream marketing.

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