When Dong Yuhui, a former English tutor from the New Oriental education and technology group, started hosting livestreams selling products on the company’s Douyin channel, he noticed that there was no often had only five viewers, including her parents and the parents of another host.
“For a while I felt quite depressed because I didn’t see the point in putting in the effort. Those were the darkest hours and now the dawn has come. I’m glad I didn’t have gave up selling vegetables online,” said Dong, 29, who is now a social media sensation.
Over the weekend, clips of Dong showcasing steaks in Chinese and English went viral on social media as people started noticing the channel was very different from others which usually feature hosts shouting at what point product prices are low. While talking about the quality of steak, Dong also taught viewers how to order steak in English at a restaurant.
“What I said presenting the steaks was not pre-prepared. It came out spontaneously,” he said.
On Dec. 28, New Oriental launched livestreaming channel Dongfang Zhenxuan, or Oriental Select, on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, to sell products after ending its tutoring business targeting elementary and middle school students. secondary at the end of last year. The move came after the government introduced the “double reduction” policy aimed at reducing the double burden of homework and extra-curricular classes for students.
According to Economic View, a China News Service financial media outlet, Dongfang Zhenxuan’s Douyin account gained 1.57 million new subscribers in three days from Friday. The account has over 3.37 million followers in total. Its sales volume was 17.7 million yuan ($2.64 million) in the same three days.
Additionally, shares of Koolearn Technology Holding doubled on Monday as investors cheered signs that the Chinese education company may also successfully pivot to live sales.
Meanwhile, New Oriental Education & Technology Group, Koolearn’s parent company, also saw its stock rise 25.5% on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange before closing up 13.1% on Monday.
Specializing in teaching English to high school students, Dong has tutored around 500,000 students in the eight years since he joined New Oriental. In 2019, he moved to Beijing from Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi province, and became head of the English teaching department at Koolearn.
After the new policy was introduced, he was transferred to his new job in Dongfang Zhenxuan as a host. “I was quite sad to find out that I couldn’t teach anymore. It took me a while to adjust to this new role,” he said. “Former teacher, current salesman”, is how he describes himself on his personal Douyin account.
But people have realized that Dong is no ordinary salesman. While tossing dried Antarctic krill on Monday, Dong told viewers that “krill” is just one of many English names used to refer to shrimp and related sea creatures.
“OK, let me teach you a few words,” Dong said in Mandarin, writing “lobster”, “prawn”, “shrimp” and “krill” in English on a small whiteboard. Comments started pouring in from viewers saying they never expected to learn anything from a channel that sells stuff. Some even said they weren’t sure whether to buy things or take notes.
Viewers were also impressed with his opinions on different literary works, including those of William Shakespeare. “I’m in my comfort zone when talking about books. I can express my views about them nonstop for three days,” Dong said.
After China Daily published Dong’s successful transition story on its official WeChat account on Tuesday, Dong left a comment saying that “as someone who started reading the newspaper in college, it is really unexpected. to appear in a story”.