How Kwai wants to fight for the market in Brazil — and debunk TikTok


In the age of super short video social media, a silent war is raging between established American companies and Chinese newcomers. While TikTok e Kwai, which have been in this segment since the beginning, fight to expand their presence in the Brazilian market, the already traditional Instagram e YouTube release their own versions of short videos, Reels and Shorts, respectively.

In a fast-changing market where what matters is the user’s time and attention, being aligned with current demands and behaviors is mandatory. The decade, according to these companies, belongs to the short videos.

When it debuted on the stock exchange of Hong Kong in February of this year, the Kuaishou Technology, Kwai’s parent company that has been gaining more and more space in Brazil, raised 5.4 billion dollars and saw the price of shares more than double on the first day of operation. The increase was 161%, the second best debut performance in history, second only to the IPO of the Alibaba. With all this appreciation, the company’s will is one: to expand.

And Brazil, in this context, is a fertile ground to be explored. To start in the country in 2020, the app, which had already had a Portuguese version since 2018, replicated an aggressive way of attracting users that, in Asia, ensured with the sale of ads a global revenue of 9 billion dollars last year .

It’s been working: in Brazil, Kwai already has 30 million active users and became known as the social network that pays those who use it — is the company’s second market, behind only China, where it has 500 million users, following the local version of Tiktok.

Kuaishou’s director of international operations, Tony Qiu, is experienced in business in Brazil and directed 99 in the country after the company was acquired by Chinese giant Didi in 2018. For him, the application intends to make money in the advertising market, but also bringing a little of what is already done in China.

“The Chinese market is 1 or 2 years ahead. Not only do we have short videos, but livestreaming is very big and a form of billing. It currently compresses 50% of our sales and is still an incipient model in Brazil”, said Qiu in an interview to EXAME. The executive also refers to the strength of the known live commerce, digital retail model that takes place in live broadcasts and allows interaction, asking questions and building a relationship between influencers and buyers.

Qiu says that Kwai is not afraid of competitors and that this is a large market, which can accommodate several companies. “Short videos are a great format for bringing the real world to digital, whether through games, shopping. We believe it’s a market that can accommodate more than one player,” he said, reiterating that the trump card of companies like Kuaishou, or ByteDance, which owns TikTok, lies in a solid algorithm that creates a preview page with very content. in line with the interest of users. According to Qiu, Kwai’s algorithm is “democratic,” giving traffic to all publications and extending reach if engagement is high.

The difference from Kwai

The lure to bring in between viewers and content producers is somewhat different from what social media and streaming platforms generally do in the West. On Kwai, there is a kind of virtual wallet where you can receive ‘Kwai Golds’, which work as a payment in virtual credits as you watch a specific amount of videos, make daily logins to the app, publish an invitation for more people joining the platform, and for those who publish videos with a good audience.

In recent months, TikTok, the main competitor, has launched an aggressive strategy along the same lines, giving points and cash offers to users who invite friends to join the platform.

Putting the background of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s not hard to imagine that the company’s strategy turned into a source of extra income for many people. This is the case of student Welter de Moura, who started promoting the app, and soon started producing videos for the platform. “By reaching a certain audience, you earn reasonable value. I make videos with funk steps, but I still haven’t managed to monetize them”, he says. This type of cashback, however, is questioned even by users, as there are no criteria for how the payment is calculated. An aggravating factor is that the app eventually reduces the values, showing that it is just a bait to attract new viewers.