Digital Camera Demand Booms in China as ‘Live Commerce’ Explodes

Buying a new camera is about to get even harder, as exploding demand in China led by “live commerce” has led to increased supply issues on a system that already cannot meet demand.

Exports out of China have slowed due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and, as a result, domestic sales through what is called “live commerce” have exploded. To support it, the need for better quality cameras has followed suit.

Live commerce is the practice of demonstrating or selling products through live-streamed social media such as TikTok or Instagram. Mostly dominated by influencers who sell cosmetics, clothing, and bags, the method is now being leveraged by factory employees who sell anything from housewares to cars.

Nikkei reports that the live commerce strategy is exploding in popularity among factories in China who are shifting to sell products domestically in response to the sluggish exports that have traditionally provided most of their income. The publication adds that China’s livestream sales market is expected to grow five times over by 2025 and exceed $879 billion.

Many factories and manufacturers are selling products on Douyin, which is a video streaming app that is operated by Beijing-based ByteDance, the same company that operates the wildly popular TikTok app in the United States. One silk manufacturer told Nikkei that the current soaring prices of logistics for international exporting of products due to the Coronavirus pandemic makes profitability difficult. Rather than deal with those extremely high prices, the company is instead focused its efforts on domestic sales.

woman demonstrating cosmetics livestream

Nikkei reports that the cost of shipping international cargo from Shanghai to the United States is expected to grow an additional five to seven times more expensive and that even factory areas that specialize in exports are putting additional effort into live commerce.

Typically, live commerce does not require significant effort to be put behind the quality of footage and generally relies on the front-facing cameras on smartphones. However, because certain products have fine textures that smartphones can’t render properly or items simply look better in streams when a higher quality camera is used, dedicated digital cameras are growing in popularity. Most live commerce content creators realize that better footage has a direct impact on better sales. Nikkei reports that demand for cameras has leaped 20% in 2021 over the previous year, and manufacturers have not been able to keep up with demand — an unfortunately familiar story.

woman demonstrating cosmetics livestream

“The supply has not caught up with the special demand for cameras in China.” Toshiyuki Ishii, Executive Vice President of Canon China tells Nikkei.

In the West, camera availability has been a sore subject in 2021. Manufacturers have been struggling to keep cameras on shelves amid a boom in demand that coincided with the chip shortage that has brought most of the tech industry’s ability to manufacture down to a trickle. With huge demand now growing in China and with that market expected to command hundreds of billions of dollars, it is very likely that camera companies will shift their focus to meet that demand given the potential profit to be made. While good news for the camera industry, it’s not necessarily so for those who have been hoping to see cameras become more widely available.

Image credits: All photos licensed via Depositphotos.