James Harden's Lightning-Fast Wine Sale in China: A Blueprint for E-Commerce?

NBA All-Star James Harden sold 10,000 bottles of his wine within seconds during a live stream in China. Peter Douglas wonders if the Chinese e-commerce model be considered a template for e-commerce worldwide?

Reading time: 1m 45s

Screenshot of James Harden's reaction to the sales feat.
Screenshot of James Harden's reaction to the sales feat.

NBA All-Star James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers demonstrated the untapped potential of livestream sales in China by partnering with Chinese internet sensation 'Crazy Xiao Yang' (English: Crazy Brother Yang). According to Chinese wine publication Vino Joy, Harden managed to sell 10,000 bottles of his Californian wine brand 'J-Harden' within seconds during a livestream.

$300,000 in five seconds

With more than 15 million people watching the sale on the Chinese social media app Douyin, the wine was sold out in five seconds. Each order consisted of two bottles, priced at 436 RMB (app. $60). The rapid sales generated about $300,000 in revenue in just five seconds. Before this event, Harden had reported selling only a modest number of cases each day. The wine, which was introduced in 2022 and produced in partnership with Accolade Wines, had been available exclusively in the United States until this point.

Unique audience and sales channels

Livestream sales in China have grown eightfold since 2019 and are currently estimated to be worth US$500 bn. However, it's not without its pitfalls. Lady Penguin, a well-known wine influencer, was fined approximately 120,000 RMB (around US$20,500) in 2022 for allegedly giving intentionally low ratings to competing products.

In China, approximately 20% of wine is sold through e-commerce. "Flash Sales," often launched via livestreams featuring celebrities and influencers, as well as during special events like Singles Day, are among the most powerful strategies in a market driven by e-commerce. According to nopCommerce, about 75% of online purchases in China are made via an app. This contrasts sharply with the U.S., where app-based e-commerce sales account for only 25% of total sales. The French and Germans fall behind, making it nearly insignificant


Chinese wine drinkers have, until now, been influenced by traditional European preferences for dry red and white wine. But, as in the US, sales of sweeter versions of both colours are growing, as Lin Liu MW reports.

Reading time: 5m 15s

Online sales in Europe

Cross-selling through omnichannel strategies has become standard practice in the US and Europe, where stores like wine.com or tannico hold a significant presence. Additionally, the Danish company Vivino dominates the marketplace scene with over 61m active users worldwide and a selection of 15.8m different wines, according to the company's own statements. Furthermore, Vivino claims to have access to all 50 U.S. states, making it a valuable tool for consumers.

In the less regulated European market, "Flash Sales" are common strategies to clear out warehouse stocks for new vintages or to capitalize on events like Black Friday. However, technology adoption varies between countries. According to Statista, only 12.8% of wines are sold online in Germany. Moreover, Europeans prefer to order directly through websites rather than apps, making the Chinese model appear less applicable to Western consumers.



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