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The Influence of Live Streaming on Consumer Behavior in Singapore

As of today, there are nine defined consumer behavior types. They are: routine response/brand response behavior, limited decision making, extensive decision making, impulse buying, affective seeking behavior, consumption work, deviant consumption, and two types of postponed decision-making and organizational. Due to the nature and variability of live streaming Singapore events, there is potential influence on the spectrum of consumer behavior. This includes providing entertainment for consumer viewing, as well as the possibility of creating a live streaming Singapore event to seek consumer feedback on a specific topic in hopes to invoke a change in consumer opinion towards a behavioral situation. These can all varyingly impact consumer behavior types.

Consumer behavior refers to the dependable purchase and consumption of goods and services to satisfy varying needs. Always a topic of high interest, it is essential to comprehend consumer behavior, as knowing the needs and wants of consumers better enables a company to cater to the same, and thus increase their sales. An increase in understanding consumer behavior also enables predictability and the chance to influence the consumer in making a different choice. This is beneficial to any form of consumer, whether an individual oneself, a group, an organization, or a company.

Live streaming provides a venue for consumers to witness an event, and if deemed fit, also contribute to the event. It provides an increased sense of engagement and builds a closer relationship between a consumer and a host. It is because the stream is live, and that there is a chance to get direct feedback, that live streaming is so attractive. The event also encompasses both the stream and the interactions by viewers. At this stage, research on live streaming in the context of consumer behavior is scarce.

Live streaming is a form of multimedia broadcasting in real-time to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many other social sites. Although this is not a new term in Singapore, its popularity has grown exponentially with the debut of various live streaming platforms over the recent years. Examples of such include YouTube Live, Twitter Periscope, Instagram Live, and Facebook Live. With a huge part of the population resorting to social media via smartphones for social interaction and entertainment, the high accessibility to such live streaming platforms makes it easier for Singaporeans to watch live streams in this era. As the future will be headed in the direction of generation, including in the workforce, it is important to study the effects that live streaming has on the youth today.

Background of Live Streaming

With this rise in popularity of eSports, it has created a market for watching professional video games, much like there are markets for traditional sports. Fans of the sport want to watch their favorite teams and players compete, and they want to do so in a live format. This is where platforms such as come into play. These are sites that allow anyone to stream video games from the comforts of their own home, and they have become a primary means of delivering professional eSports to the public. Viewers can watch a wide array of games and players for free, and if they find a particular streamer to their liking, they can become regular visitors to the stream. Due to the potentially lucrative nature of being a successful streamer and the various entertainment factors of other streams, live streaming has become a full-time job for many people.

The concept of live streaming is not new and has been around for many years now, but it is only recently that it has garnered a significant amount of attention and hype. Live streaming is the act of delivering content in a live manner over the internet. This could be anything from music to political debates, but the area that this paper will be focusing on is the act of live streaming video games. Video games have been a staple form of entertainment for decades now, but within the past 10 years, professional gaming (also known as eSports) has taken off and become a mainstream form of entertainment.

Overview of Consumer Behavior in Singapore

The travel retail industry has also benefited from Singaporean consumer behavior, both in and out of Singapore. In the past, it was known that most Singaporeans, even those from higher income groups, would travel to nearby Malaysia or Thailand by land or sea to purchase everyday items at a discounted price. This trend still exists today, though the recent liberalization of visa requirements, particularly for visits to Western countries, has resulted in more Singaporeans traveling further to do their shopping. The recent global events which led to a dip in most countries’ economies has caused significant changes in the consumer behavior of Singaporeans. In 2009, it was reported that a significant amount of Singaporeans had started to look for jobs back in Singapore when their overseas postings were terminated. This, in turn, caused them to reduce spending on luxury goods and caused expatriates to leave Singapore to look for job opportunities within a less affected country.

Singapore has achieved remarkable economic growth over the last four decades due to the visionary policies of its leaders and the hard work of its people. It is a country that is built for business, and the government has created an environment where entrepreneurs and businesses can thrive. Historically, the country has shunned risk and tended to favor tried and tested methods. However, as the global economy changed, so did Singapore’s consumer. More Singaporeans, though prudent still, are becoming more willing to spend on goods which they perceive will enhance their quality of life and bring status. The typical Singaporean consumer purchases on a regular basis. This behavior has grown, as opposed to making occasional purchases such as once every few months. This behavior is mirrored in other more developed countries, and is a result of aggressive and excessive marketing campaigns urging consumers to buy products and services.

The Rise of Live Streaming in Singapore

Concurrently, the abundance of 4G mobile and wireless networks in Singapore has significantly improved the quality of live streams with higher bitrates, low latency, and minimal downtime. High-speed wireless technology has also allowed popular mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram to integrate video content-sharing features, while dedicated live streaming platforms such as Twitch and Afreeca TV have expanded into mobile app services.

Accessibility Singapore has an exceptionally high internet penetration rate, with 82% of the population being active internet users. More significantly, smartphone penetration is rapidly approaching its saturation point, with 78% of Singaporeans owning a smartphone or equivalent, and ownership peaking among young adults and the working population. With increasing reliance on mobile data for information and entertainment, smartphone users have constant access to mobile services offering video content, particularly with the inception of no-cost data plans for specific services. This convenience and constant connectivity has made it easier for users to tune into live streams at any time of day, from any location.

The popularity of live streaming has surged in Singapore over the past few years, with viewership in 2016 estimated to be around 38%, compared with 22% in 2012. This surge may be attributed to the widespread accessibility to the internet and mobile entertainment, surge of mobile messaging apps, and the advent of digital technology.

Factors Driving the Popularity of Live Streaming

The desire for immediate content has become typical of today’s society. People want their content on the go and are less willing to dedicate themselves to specific times and places to view entertainment. Live streaming is the apex of on-the-go content, being a platform for viewing live events or people wherever and whenever. Today’s consumers are attracted to the concept of people broadcasting their own lives as it fits with the type of content that consumers want to see. In both Asia and Western countries, reality TV shows have seen a decline in viewers in recent years, showing a shift in the type of content that consumers prefer to view. This change has come about as reality TV shows are often not truly reality, and reruns of reality TV shows provide no content that cannot already be viewed on television. People have lost incentive to view reality TV in these conditions, but live streaming is an alternative that is both real and original. Live streaming can involve anything from popular online personalities commenting on real world events, to someone broadcasting themselves cooking a meal for their family. This wide gamut of possibilities for live streamed content means that there is potential for something that everyone will be interested in.

Improved technology is the first factor that has driven the increasing popularity of live streaming. The quality of live streaming has improved greatly over the years. Faster internet connections and the development of better mobile devices have taken what was a choppy and grainy viewing experience and transformed it into a high-quality form of online content. Consumers today notice and appreciate the improved quality. In an experiment with Taiwanese college students, it was found that there was a significant difference in perceived value between higher and lower quality streaming, with students being willing to pay to watch good quality streaming. High quality streaming also adds an additional level of interaction as improved video quality allows interactions such as the raising of a metaphorical glass to one’s favourite online celebrity on a live stream to be more visible and therefore more intimate.

Live streaming has become increasingly popular in Singapore in recent years. Today, nearly a quarter of online consumers in Singapore are watching live streaming, with their preference for live streaming over on-demand video rising steadily. The popularity of this on-the-go form of broadcasting has been driven by several factors, including improved technology, the desire for immediate content, and a greater connectedness with one’s social media.

Impact of Live Streaming on Traditional Media Channels

Not only does live streaming compete with traditional media for viewership, but it also diverts advertising dollars away from old media and into new. The same Milieu Insight study found that 52% of Singaporeans find online ads more relevant to them now compared to those on television. YouTube, the leading online video platform, has an advertising revenue model much like television where ads are played before or during videos. Data from eMarketer estimates that by the end of 2017, YouTube’s advertising revenue will surpass that of Singapore’s entire print and newspapers sector. This drastic change in advertising expenditure is one that almost certainly affects the content creation and quality of traditional media, as marketing budgets are reallocated to where consumers are now spending most of their time. Given that the youth-adult pay divide is the widest in Singapore compared to any other country, it can be inferred that Singapore’s older generation is less likely to follow their tech-savvy counterparts onto new media. This could lead to an eventual decline in local traditional media and growth in western-owned media services.

Traditional media channels refer to television, radio, billboards, and print media. Live streaming poses the biggest threat to traditional media channels as it allows users to view live or on-demand content on their mobile devices at their convenience. Research done by Milieu Insight shows that 56% of Singaporeans now prefer to consume online video compared to television, with the average viewing time for digital videos now exceeding that of television programs by almost an hour. Consumers no longer need to rely on television to view live content, as platforms like Twitch and YouTube now offer live streaming of major sporting events, music festivals, and even electronic gaming competitions known as e-sports. This represents a major shift in viewership behavior and one that is likely to continue to trend upwards among younger generations.

Effects of Live Streaming on Consumer Behavior

Live streaming behavior also encourages the formation of online communities among the viewers and other streamers. It is observed that the chat feature and increased interactivity can cultivate relationships between viewers. Subscribing to a streamer’s channels forges stronger ties, with some even participating as volunteer staff. These communities are held together by similar interests in the streamers, and the various contents are a good influence on the viewers. The APAC Online Behavior Study showed that viewers prefer more interaction and entertainment content (40%) compared to real game videos (32%) on live streaming sites. This shows that the behavior of live streaming and the formed communities have led to certain far-reaching changes in the viewers when they want to seek both information and entertainment. An accurate understanding of its effects is necessary to provide an answer to the initial question of whether live streaming is indeed the next big influencer on consumer behavior.

It relates to studies on television home shopping where it was found that impulse buying behavior can be categorized into two types: impulse buying induced by the urge to act on a product and impulse buying induced by the attractive pricing. Viewers also have the tendency to buy a product that is endorsed by the streamer, thus becoming brand ambassadors for the streamers.

Live streaming has proven to be significantly different from traditional video content in terms of the chat feature, where most of the live streams have a chat feature that enables the viewers to interact with the streamer and other viewers about everything. It is found that viewers watch a live stream for an average of 42.8 minutes if there is a high level of interaction between the streamers and viewers. This is because the live stream audience feels like the streamer is talking to them personally, and the streamers can respond directly to the viewers. The level of interaction can even affect the purchase intention for first-time viewers. According to the survey, 64% of viewers purchased a product that they saw in a live stream after some period of time. Among the group of purchasers, 42% decided to purchase the product directly after seeing the live stream. This was due to the impulse buying habits conducted by the viewers who feel that the product details are well explained.

Increased Engagement and Interactivity

Open-ended questions revealed an overwhelming desire for more interactive gameplay on stream, which included playing with viewers and participation in online tournaments. The respondents agreed that this would strengthen their connection with the streamer and possibly create a virtual friendship. The ability to implement such actions can significantly benefit streamers, as it may be a catalyst for building a loyal fan base. This is paramount as research conducted by Bilandzic and Busselle uncovered that the ability to interact with a media persona increases the chance of forming a parasocial interaction with that persona.

To dedicate an analysis, a survey was conducted among Twitch users who have watched/followed at least one game or gaming-related content. Users were asked to rate their level of agreement with statements about parasocial interaction that were measured on 7-point Likert scales. Measures included a feeling of a “real” friendship with a streamer. An average mean of 2.96 provides mild support that users are more likely to befriend a streamer over a broadcaster due to the interaction available through streamers.

Increased engagement and interactivity – With live streaming, viewers can now interact with broadcasters and other viewers in real time, largely through a chat window. This has essentially closed the gap between the broadcaster and the audience. Compared to pre-recorded videos, live streaming creates more of a one-on-one connection between the streamer and the viewer. Viewers are able to ask questions, give feedback, and in some cases participate in the content itself.

Influence on Purchase Decisions

The last way that live streaming can influence purchasing behavior is with impulse buying. discovered that impulse buying in traditional retail stores is closely linked to sensory variables and interactivity which alludes to a shopping experience. This is insightful as many products are not often purchased online due to the lack of experience associated with a trip to a physical store. Live streaming can add a new dimension to online shopping, being a sensory-rich experience, and as previously mentioned, it facilitates enhanced levels of interactivity between buyer and seller. An exploratory study found that online impulse purchasing behavior is closely linked to emotional states and an unplanned experience. The authors concluded that it is due to e-shoppers’ attempt to simulate a real-time buying experience. Therefore, live streaming will simulate a more real-time experience and encourage impulsive buying when compared to other forms of internet marketing.

Hypothesis one from the research will be that live streaming facilitates a micro-environment online shopping experience where consumers are less inclined to leave the website to search for information. This is due to the information being readily available and often directly from the opinion of a seller or fellow consumer. It will then be stated that the lack of need to exit the site will result in the change of purchasing intentions being more pronounced than with other internet marketing tools. An effective way to measure this would be to survey consumers after exposure to live streaming about their intentions to purchase a particular product.

Live streaming has the potential to influence consumer purchase behavior in a number of ways and can be a particularly effective marketing tool. A study found that it is a common pre-purchase behavior for consumers to seek out information about a product. In doing so, they will often form an attitude and subjective norm toward making the purchase that will then influence their intentions to buy. suggested that the most effective method of changing consumers’ intentions to purchase is to change either their attitude or subjective norm. Live streaming can be an effective tool to achieve this as it has been found to be more persuasive than pre-recorded video content. This is because it offers consumers interactivity and the ability to personally relate to the streamers, making it easier to change attitudes and subjective norms. Live streaming content can also be construed as helping consumers to make ‘informed decisions’ which often helps strengthen purchasing intentions. This is important as purchase intentions are the most reliable predictor of actual purchasing behavior.

Formation of Online Communities

Communities are characterized by a sense of belonging and the feeling that members are a part of something special. Live streaming communities are generally referred to as communities that are formed by fans of a particular streamer on several live streaming platforms. Often, it is ephemeral and is done around scheduled events with clear start and finish times. Live streaming communities are bonded by the experiences they share together while watching the live stream and also the interaction between the streamer and the viewers. The experiences are unique for each event or interaction, and the inability to replicate the feeling at a later time makes it a strong bonding factor. During a live stream, viewers sometimes take on the role of co-creator by giving immediate feedback to the streamer. The feedback may influence the content that is being created by the streamer and create a sense of feeling appreciated by the viewers.

Live streaming, as one form of new media tools, has provided an opportunity for end users to communicate in real time while sharing their experiences on particular media. Its effect is making people drawn to social communities that are created around CGM. Live streaming, especially on the internet, has particular characteristics that utilize internet infrastructure. It occurs in real time and can be recorded for future viewing. This form of streaming media is different from on-demand streaming, which allows users to download or listen to recorded media.

Characteristics of new media, such as social communities, have broken through the boundaries of traditional media to open up two-way communication between end users and the media. In contrast to traditional centralized media, the characteristics of new media shift the balance of power to end users. This shift has led to the formation of consumer-generated media (CGM) communities centered on shared media experiences in online environments.

Implications for Businesses and Marketers

Consumer behavior studies show that consumers form attitudes by first learning about a product, trying it, and only afterwards forming an attitude. Live streaming can play this part by reinforcing a message through product demonstrations by a live host and taking live Q&A from consumers. The ability to connect with the host and the product provides an experience for the visitor where a strong brand connection is developed. Depending on how much the visitor likes the video, this can be a viral marketing technique itself, convincing the visitor to tell friends about the product or post it in an IM conversation by using chat integrations to engage viewers.

Based on research conducted by Yi and ever-expanding technology has revolutionized the media industry. As compared to traditional TV viewing, he found that consuming the same content, the interactive element of live streaming and the feeling of connecting with a live host significantly changes the viewing experience of consumers. This provides good potential for creating brand perceptions and brand attitudes.

In fact, 41% of Singapore’s online population has watched or downloaded digital videos and about a quarter of young adults aged 15-24 engage in live streaming. Live streaming therefore provides a platform for marketers to enhance their viral marketing. Marketers can ride on the social aspect of live streaming to connect with consumers and to spread a marketing message in an entertaining manner. By taking advantage of the medium’s many entertaining elements, marketers can put on a show while introducing a product.

With the increasing popularity of live streaming and its impact on consumers’ buying behavior, there are several implications it has on businesses’ marketing strategies and overall marketing decisions. Marketers are always looking for emerging new media to reach out to target audiences. Knowing that Singaporeans are already spending too much time in front of our computer monitors, it is a matter of time for most marketers to jump onto the live streaming bandwagon.

Leveraging Live Streaming for Marketing Strategies

The results supported the live streaming media choice model. Students in a negative mood had needs that were different from those of students in a positive mood. Their choices of a radio and music playlists as media options led to affect enhancement. This was due to the mood management of both groups, who were influenced by their current moods and affective states to select a specific media that would control or change the way they were feeling. Finally, a simulated live streaming task provided more immediate affect responses than print and static visual media. This marked affect and the positive or negative nature of the affective responses were validated by the use of the same mood assessment used earlier in the study.

The model states that media choice is influenced by motivations and mood. Dispositional and situational factors lead to particular needs, which in turn initiate a wish to seek specific media content. This results in the selection of a media option, which leads to further affective responses. The cycle stops when the individual has achieved the desired affective state. In order to test this model, an artificial mood state was induced within undergraduate students by use of a Velten method procedure. These students then completed mood assessments and a survey of their dispositional motivations for media use.

The pragmatic nature of media consumption and the potential of live video on the internet led to the first study of live streaming. It provides a model of user motivations by connecting achievement and enjoyment to media use. It was found that achievement – specifically, the motivation to escape from the reality of one’s own life – predicted a more intense use of media, and that live streaming is a non-private medium through which parasocial interactions can flourish. A second study used an observer-participant design to examine the responses evoked by the live streaming model presented by earlier research.

Challenges and Considerations for Businesses

When it comes to assessing the business costs and benefits of live streaming, many small businesses need to consider some key factors. Cost is often a key concern for these companies; they need to consider the value for money of live streaming in comparison with other forms of marketing. With the potential to reach a large audience at a very low cost, live streaming seems an attractive option. However, the professional production often associated with live streaming is not cheap. As well as production costs, there is the cost of time for whoever will be on camera. Preparing a script or presentation, being live on camera and interacting with viewers is very time consuming. This is another consideration, whether the stream will be scripted and professional, or organic and off the cuff – both have their various merits, but require a different time investment. Small businesses also need to consider the risk associated with live streaming. Anything can happen in a live broadcast, and if it does go wrong the video is often the subject of ridicule and will never truly be removed from the internet. An inappropriate or offensive incident in a live stream can potentially be fatal for a small company’s reputation.

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