Commercers Revolutionizing the Live Commerce with the Power of “Like”

Media & Platforms

Live commerce refers to a combination of livestreaming and ecommerce, where users sell products while communicating with users. The concept gained popularity during Pandemic lockdowns, but companies are facing many challenges including difficulties casting influencers, a lack of streamers within the company, and more. IREP is promoting a new concept called “commercers.” We collaborated with “Yukosu”, also known as Ms. Yuko Sugamoto, who operates Corporation 321, to launch a talent development project specializing in live commerce. ( Today, we’ll be talking about the future of live commerce created by these “commercers” with Mr. Yoshinobu Ikeda (Director, 3rd Interactive Design Group, IREP) and Mr. Keisuke Musha (Live Commerce Evangelist, 1st Interactive Design Group, IREP). 

*This article was transferred from the “Consumer Data Driven Marketing Newsletter” published by Hakuhodo DY Group, 2021.05.24. 

The Opportunity Lies in “Undeveloped but in Demand” Live Commerce

-First, tell us why IREP is currently focusing on live commerce. 


4 years ago, IREP created the Interactive Design Division to focus on establishing communication between “awareness and conversion,” known as the middle funnel. We realized that social commerce was crucial. Companies in Japan began adapting live commerce in or around 2017, but it has yet to achieve widespread adoption. With digitalization rapidly advancing in the face of Pandemic, and with demand for the yet-to-mature field demanded by clients and society, we decided to take up on the challenge. 


I also believe that Pandemic was the decisive trigger. I’ve asked myself what digital initiatives will remain after Pandemic subsides. Conversely, what initiatives will disappear as a result of being a necessity solely due to Pandemic? I felt that online drinking sessions will fade out while online meetings will remain. I also felt that live commerce will stay. The concept may have its origins because of physical retail stores being unable to open, but during the process, people realized that the new experience of being able to shop without having to go to the store was cool, resulting in progress in the digital transformation (DX) field. We felt that this industry would take off and decided to dive in. 

-What’s the biggest difference between live commerce and television shopping? 


The primary difference lies in the media. With television shopping, you can just have the program running in the background while you do some other task, but with live commerce, you have to pay attention. Smartphones are designed for single tasks, so in principle, you can’t engage in multitasking. That’s why live commerce competes with smartphone games and messages from friends. It’s also why with live commerce, you need to have a reason to hook users and a reason to keep their attention. It’s a reality you have to face.


Another distinction would be the bidirectionality. With television, you’re stuck with what the network shows you, but with live commerce, you can leave comments and ask to see the product from other angles, for example. Another difference is that the person selling the product is an influential figure. People selling on television may feature famous celebrities, but having many followers on social media is a different story. However, this doesn’t mean that simply having many followers will lead to sales. It’s important to have a firm understanding of the product and have a passion for it. That’s how we define commercers, who specialize in live commerce and have the passion and skill.

Quality Over Quantity 

-Tell us the story behind creating the “commercer” concept 


Companies have been collaborating with influencers for a while when selling products. Those collaborations usually begin with companies searching for famous YouTubers and influencers with a significant following. We didn’t think that that was right, because it’s not the influencers, but the communication focused around the product and brand that connects companies with users. Commercers understand the product and brand, as well as how users act. The important thing isn’t having the most followers, but being able to connect companies with users. We need more people who can do that. 

  1. Influencer (Person-oriented, one-way):
    Communicating My Character to Followers
  2. YouTuber (Person + Content-oriented, one-way):
    Communicating My Character and Concepts to Followers
  3. Liver (Person-oriented, interactive):
    Live streaming to communicate my character to followers, engaging in real-time interaction by responding to comments and feedback from followers
  4. Commercer (Person + Product-oriented, interactive):
    Communicating both my character and the value of my products or services to followers, engaging in real-time interaction by responding to comments and feedback from followers
-That’s the reason you started collaborating with 123 Inc.


Yukosu is involved in live commerce in various roles, such as producing her own brand and appearing on live commerce for other brands. I really resonate with 321’s philosophy of “living through live streaming.” We also believe that true success will come when people can make a living as commercers. The concept of individuals selling corporate products is essentially turning people into storefronts. With the goal of creating such a profession of commercers, our collaboration began.

-What exactly does it mean to create the profession of a commercers?


There are two concepts: “professional commercers” and “in-house commercers.” “Professional commercers,” like Yuukosu-san, are professionals equipped with skills in live commerce. They accept commissions from companies and participate in live commerce from a third-party perspective. On the other hand, fostering “in-house commercers” involves training company employees to acquire broadcasting skills so they can operate live commerce internally.

The live streamers affiliated with 321 already possess skills in speaking in front of the camera and managing time while reading comments. Therefore, the additional skills they acquire focus on a marketer’s perspective.

We believe that commercers need three perspectives: the “broadcaster’s perspective,” the “viewer’s perspective,” and finally, the “marketer’s perspective.” While it’s essential for commerces to passionately discuss their favorite field, such as beauty or fashion, merely expressing enthusiasm isn’t sufficient. They must also be conscious of conversion—selling. Effective communication that reads the atmosphere is essential. The key is how passionately one can discuss their favorite topics from a marketer’s perspective.

“TAKE ZERO” is More Important than “TAKE ONE”

-When it comes to passionately expressing what you love, the key is how to make others love the product as well, right?


That’s exactly right. I often talk to Yukosu and she tells me how it’s impossible to introduce products if they’re shown to her right before the stream starts. After all, the most important moment is before the broadcast. How much has the person used the product? How much does the person like the product? Those are the questions we should be asking when discussing passion. 

This commercers business is actually part of our company project called “TAKE ZERO,” and the origin of the project name actually comes from here. It signifies that “TAKE ZERO” is more important than “TAKE ONE”.


If “TAKE ZERO” isn’t established, you can’t reach “TAKE ONE.” From now on, we want to create a flow where we recommend things to our followers because we genuinely love them, rather than traditional influencer contracts where you get paid for one Instagram post.

-The expectations are high for in-house commercers who possess a deep understanding and affection for the products. How do you plan to nurture them?


We’re considering various programs such as workshops, seminars, and practice speaking in front of the camera, but we also want to frame the technical aspects into a structured framework. I run an organization called the “Japan Gummy Association,” and we have around 80,000 followers combined on Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I conduct live streaming sessions for our followers in a commercer-like role. During these sessions, I hardly prepare any scripts; I simply stick a few notes on a whiteboard. I make sure to consciously note things like “Am I reading the comments properly?” or “Am I summarizing for viewers who joined midway?” and progress accordingly. We’ve framed this approach as the “SIRRAS (Syraus) model” and want to ensure that we communicate these techniques effectively.

Elevating Live Commerce into A New Cultural Phenomenon

Is there anything you’d like to convey to companies currently interested in live commerce?


Yes, in Japan, there’s a tendency to set sales as the KPI for live commerce. While that’s important, I believe it’s essential to emphasize engagement, how well companies connect with users. I want to convey that it’s crucial to consider this in conjunction with community design.


There’s a women’s apparel brand that conducts live commerce or Instagram Live streaming every day, 365 days a year, attracting 200 to 300 viewers each time. Employees are called by their names, like ‘xxx-chan,’ and specific stamps (such as bear or rabbit stamps) are used when certain individuals appear. They’ve even cultivated a culture akin to idol groups. Ultimately, I aim for companies and users to connect through individuals and passionately sell products.

-Finally, could you share your thoughts on the future of live commerce as you see it?


I believe that there are various stakeholders in live commerce. Not only client companies, but also agencies like us, and platforms like HandsUp. That’s why I hope for a world where everyone, including client companies and commercers, comes together not in a top-down approach but as players, to provide new shopping experiences. We’ve launched a project called ‘TEAM JAZZ’ and are promoting the message ‘From the era of competition to the era of co-creation.’ That’s exactly it. I want to create a world where companies and commercers can co-create as comrades.”


Shopping is an experience that includes processes like stopping by a shop during a date or the journey to find a product. The same goes for e-commerce. It’s not just about clicking to purchase; it’s about the entire “shopping experience” that includes the “date” leading up to it. I believe live commerce is about creating that “shopping experience with a date” aspect. If we can properly design that “date” part, it leads to engagement, and only when we achieve that does it truly become ingrained as a culture.


The ultimate goal is for live commerce to become ingrained as a part of Japanese culture. However, I feel like such a culture is something that users and commercers will organically create in places beyond our control, much like YouTube. Each YouTuber has their own unique style, and viewers enjoy them in their own way. When it comes to live commerce itself, as well as the concept of commercers, true success, I believe, lies in embracing the uncontrollable aspects. I hope that together with client companies, commercers, and users, we can all create this culture.


Yoshinobu Ikeda 

Director, 3rd Interactive Design Group, IREP. 
Ikeda joined IREP in 2020. Prior to IREP, he spent 15 years planning and producing events/promotions. He has experience with BTL projects of all sizes from sampling the corner of the street to assisting with the Japan booth at the World Expo. At IREP, he’s the owner of TAKE ZERO, a social integrated project focused on live commerce. 

Keisuke Musha 

Live Commerce Evangelist, 1st Interactive Design Group, IREP. 
Joined sharecoto Co., Ltd. in 2012, where he was engaged in analyzing social media for entertainment and movie promotions. He has worked with Santen Pharmaceutical, Toridoll, Pasona, GMO, Kanro, Chukyo Television Broadcasting, “In This Corner of the World,” and “Hibiki.” He created the Japan Gummy Association in 2013 and appeared on “The World Unknown To Matsuko.” He has over 69,000 followers on Twitter and has been the top trend on Twitter on September 3, Gummy Day. He has been affiliated with IREP since 2021. 

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