column The rise of lifestyle streams

In Q2, the latter accounted for more than five billion streamed hours worldwide. And specifically one type of livestream stands head and shoulders above that: the lifestyle stream.
Since the inception of live streaming as entertainment, it has been inseparable from online gaming. Twitch in particular is built on the game culture, with thousands of people watching popular gamers every day while playing Fortnite or Minecraft for hours on end. In recent years, a new category has organically emerged on Twitch called Just Chatting, which has grown explosively. What these streamers do is nothing more or less than talking to and to their viewers in real time. Often while they are just sitting at their computer, sometimes when they are on the road or doing something. Lifestyle streaming is not only a growing phenomenon on Twitch, also since the emergence of live functionalities on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, “going live” for no specific purpose other than just chatting with or to your followers is getting bigger and bigger.

Peak caused by lockdown

It is not surprising that the live stream figures have gone through the roof at all major platforms in recent times. All over the world, people have been sitting at home for months, and boredom and perhaps loneliness have led to a massive surge in the demand and supply of live streams. Ultimately, it is a way of feeling connected to others. Like popular vloggers, influencers or celebrities, communities of like-minded people often arise around popular live streamers.

Lifestyle streams are also increasingly popular in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands too, the lifestyle stream is becoming more and more “mainstream”. For example, look at a Bas Smit who went live on Instagram and showed his followers how he was taken through the car wash by his two daughters. His hair was cut and nails painted and over 800,000 people watched. Not because they wanted to brush up on the hairdressing profession, but purely for the high level of entertainment and a glimpse into his life. Five years ago, this trend was even picked up early on by documentary makers Tim den Besten and Nicolaas Veul with Super Stream Me, an experiment in which they live streaming their lives non-stop for eighteen days. Yes, also while sleeping, on the toilet and in the shower.

How can brands respond to this?

The “easy way” to claim a role as a brand in this world of live streaming is through the standard ad placements available on the platforms. Especially on Twitch, a tech savvy target group can be reached that often uses adblockers and is therefore difficult to reach via regular digital communications. But, it is more interesting to ask yourself as a brand what kind of natural role you can take on such a platform. Maybe you can work with live streamers who have a logical fit with your brand or product? Or, even better, as a brand, can you build a community around your brand and share live content that is engaging enough to watch? Think of a fashion retailer that unboxed the latest sneakers live, a car brand that provides the viewer with the driving experience of the latest model via a live stream, or a food brand that is going to (or has let) taste new items on the menu live.
A well-known but good case is Wendy’s burger chain in the United States, which operates with the Keep Fortnite Freshactivation found a way to tap into a digital “food fight“Between two restaurant chains in the game Fortnite.” One of the restaurants kept its virtual burgers in the freezer and Wendy’s, known for the burgers that never get frozen, rebelled by destroying all the freezers in Fortnite during an hour-long live streaming session on Twitch.
Basically, it starts with immersing yourself in the platforms and associated communities. Find your niche there, learn from the content that works well and give it your own twist from your brand or product.

This article previously appeared in MarketingTribune 13/14, 2020.


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