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Alibaba’s Taobao Life social game: the virtual shopping experience for millennials

Céline Delacharlerie
4 minutes
Taobao Life is a social game launched in 2019 by Alibaba, in which users customize their own avatars and purchase virtual clothing and accessories with points. This virtual store is linked to Taobao and Tmall, Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms.

In May 2019, Taobao (an e-commerce platform belonging to Alibaba) launches the game Taobao Life. This video game, available from the Taobao app, allows users to create and customize an avatar. Thanks to virtual pieces, it is possible to buy clothes and other accessories for your avatar. To have virtual coins, simply complete daily missions or buy goods on Taobao or Tmall. These clothes and various accessories used for the customization of the avatar are also available in Taobao’s shop. It is therefore possible to buy the clothes and accessories of your avatar for yourself. In addition, users can: interact with each other on the platform, decorate their home, create alliances between friends to build houses, etc. The interactivity of the game aims to please the new generation that has grown up with video games. The post-90 generation has become the largest consumer group of the moment, which explains Alibaba’s involvement in Taobao Life. This platform has more than 10 million users, of which more than 50% are between 18 and 29 years old. Women are the main group of Taobao Life users. More and more Chinese celebrities are present on the game.

An example of a Taobao campaign: for Valentine’s Day, Tmall Luxury worked with Burberry, Hugo Boss, and other brands to launch an «online appointment» campaign on Taobao Life. From 14 to 16 February, users were able to access 20 limited edition virtual articles and the corresponding backgrounds for Valentine’s Day, where couples were able to take “together” photos. To further develop the game, Taobao Life and Taobao Maker Festival have joined forces to create six virtual worlds with a different theme each.

For its part, Facebook is developing a similar virtual game: Facebook Horizon. Users can create their own worlds and games, play and socialize with friends, or simply explore user-generated landscapes. Taobao Life and Facebook Horizon allow players to create their own avatars. Both also promote the social angle by encouraging players to share photos/videos of their avatar on their social networks. On the other hand, Facebook has not (yet) set up e-commerce as Taobao Life has and is still in beta phase, but it is not impossible that it is developing in this direction, having already made many attempts to get involved in e-commerce in the past.

Why use TaobaoLife?

Create your own avatar and customize it

Just like in classic video games, Taobao Life allows you to customize your avatar, choose his hair cut, the color of his eyes, the shape of his face, etc. Then it is possible to choose his clothes, his shoes, give him accessories, and even buy shares that it can realize such as a dance step for example. It is thanks to virtual pieces that you can buy more clothes and accessories.



Buy the same garment as your avatar in Taobao/Tmall stores

By customizing your avatar, you have a wide selection of clothing, shoes and accessories available to you. When you like a piece of clothing, you can see this item on the Taobao or Tmall store thanks to a game feature that allows you to actually buy your avatar’s clothing. So you become buyers in the real world.





Complete missions

It is by completing missions that you win virtual coins with which you can buy items and clothes for your avatar. This game contains another mini-game similar to Monopoly: you win rewards such as coins or clothes. In addition, it is possible to receive real rewards: handkerchief, laundry, food… There are even coupons that can be used for other purchases.







Interact with friends

You are encouraged to share photos and videos as well as to like and comment on other people’s posts. This feature allows you to interact with your friends as you already do on other networks such as Facebook and Instagram. In addition, you can take photos “together” with your avatars and share them on the Taobao Life network (or the network of your choice).








Connecting with celebrities

More and more Chinese celebrities are present on Taobao Life. The game offers several possibilities of interaction with celebrities. Taobao Life invites celebrities and influencers to its events – you can win the same outfits in virtual by supporting your favorite personality. In addition, the game has recently created six virtual worlds where you need to find rare and creative objects with which you can interact with celebrities.

Céline Delacharlerie
Celine is the correspondent of the Echangeur in China. On the lookout for retail innovations, she identifies and analyzes the latest retail and consumer trends in Asia.
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