Double 11, Singles’ Day, Chinese Black Friday! You may have noticed signs or banners popping up around town or on your Wechat moments, indicating something BIG is happening on this date. What is happening and why should we care?
Chinese black Friday is happening right now! Are you taking the right steps?
Shopping is one of China’s national sports and Double 11 or ‘Singles’ Day’, where the e-commerce platforms lay the perfect hunting grounds, is a day where records are broken.
Singles’ Day – Once a day to celebrate your singleton, Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba, has transformed China’s ‘anti-Valentine’s Day’ into a frenzy of too good to be true online sales.
Today, Singles’ Day is the largest day of sales around the world that takes place every November 11th from midnight to midnight.
Perhaps better known as Double 11, recent Singles’ Day sales generate more revenue than America’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined!
Last year, Singles’ Day hit a record breaking $25.4 billion in sales in 24-hours, up 39% year on year.
What’s crazy about this giant day of sales is that more and more businesses, influencers, and countries want to take part in it.
2017 Singles’ Day recap
- 140,000 brands participated in the day, including around 60,000 global brands like Lululemon, Adidas, Bose, Gap, Nike, Macy’s, Zara, and the list goes on. Brands from the U.S. Germany, Australia, Japan, and South Korea have been taking part in the day and are among the top international brands preferred by Chinese consumers.
- 15 million products were listed duringthe sale with wellness and baby products, such as diapers, vitamins, milk powders, etc., being some of the most popular products
- 812 million orders were made, and 1.48 billion payments were processed through Alipay, with 90% of those done on a mobile device.
Double 11 (the 11th of November) marks Singles’ Day or 光棍节 Guanggunjie. The idea originated in the 90s, when on this day Chinese university students without a date would organize group activities to be united in their loneliness. The date resembles a pair of single 1’s (11.11) which also looks like sticks or 棍子 gun zi. The Chinese name then evolved to 光棍 guanggun which translates to “single person” or “bachelor”. Over the years it has evolved into a day to celebrate singledom; a bachelor or bachelorette’s response to Valentine’s Day (no doubt aided by the gentle encouragement of marketing and advertising agencies…)
In 2009, Jack Ma and his team at Alibaba Group Holdings decided to leverage off this unofficial celebration and heralded 11.11 as a national shopping event. Each year on Double 11, Alibaba’s various e-commerce platforms including Taobao, TMall and the more foreigner-friendly platform AliExpress, showcase heavily discounted products and services. Everything from kitchen appliances to cars to airline tickets can be purchased for a fraction of the retail price during this 24-hour online shopping frenzy.
Will you be part of the money-making history in 2018?
As the 10thanniversary of the Alibaba version of Singles’ Day approaches, it seems like everyone wants to take part in Singles’ Day in some way or another. This includes even more global brands, celebrities, influencers, and consumers
Alibaba’s recent press release states that 180,000 brands from both China and overseas will be participating in 2018. You can expect to see sales campaigns from leading international brands as well as smaller brands looking to make a breakthrough during the world’s biggest day of sales.
Take a look through Taobao and Tmall’s homepages to previews some of the pre-sales from brands like Zara, Uniqlo, North Face, UGG, Stella McCartney, Guess, and thousands more.
You can also expect to find unique imports from near-by countries. For example, this year Indonesia plans to cash in on Double 11 by offering a wide range of products on Alibaba, including Indonesian local specialties. Some of the products that will be offered include specialty snacks that hold medicinal benefits and one of the world’s most expensive coffee beans,  both of which are popular in China.
What to expect in year 2018 on the 11.11 day?
As usual, a countdown gala will begin before midnight with a number of a-list celebrities who provide entertainment, endorsements, and activities to help launch the jaw-dropping day of sales into action. Last year, performances by Pharrell Williams and participation by Nicole Kidman were highlighted by media in the West, showing just how much exposure Double 11 sales are getting globally.
Although the hours leading up to Double 11 will be jam-packed with a spectacle of performances, consumers will be tuning into thousands of live streams from influencers.
Examples from Swisse and Blackmores show the necessity of having a working relationship with an influencer.
In 2015, vitamin brand Swisse partnered with actress Fan BingBing leading to thousands of shares on social media and Swisse becoming the top-selling imported product on Double Eleven.
Blackmores held a three-hour livestream with a well-known influencer on Alibaba’s Tmall resulting in more impressions than simply pushing banner ads to Huawei mobile phone users.
Chinese consumers continue to hold the referrals and reviews made by influencers to high regard. With expectations for an even bigger day of sales in 2018, brands hoping to cash in on Double 11 will need to be nothing short of creative to market their goods to Chinese consumers.
Double 11 consumers behaviour at a glance
- Price is no longer the most important factor when it comes to purchasing, Chinese shoppers are now focused more on quality.
- Impulsive shopping is increasing as Chinese consumers’ have growing disposable incomes.
- Chinese consumers remain loyal to national influencers, meaning having the right influencer can strengthen your campaign.
- Health and wellness remain top-of-mind for Chinese consumers when making purchasing decisions.
- Chinese consumers prefer niche products that represent their lifestyles and their ideals
You can expect to find a variety of brands utilizing technology that gives consumers the chance to see and select products that are in-store and in virtual stores. Virtual reality is being used to promote unique shopping experiences for consumers with high expectations from the day.
In addition, consumers have already been busy placing preorders as from Mid October! Once the clock hits midnight on Chinese black Friday, the preorders are likely to be a large portion of the first hour of Double 11 sales. Last year, a large number of preorders helped Alibaba hit $1 billion in sales in the first two minutes of the day.
Whether you are planning to participate in Double 11 or not, you won’t want to miss out on the creativity that will be deployed to get consumers in the doors of shops and online making purchases.
Why shall you act now on joining the Singles’ day?
The phenomenal success of Singles’ Day is a snapshot of the times we are living in. China’s consumers are active, captive and connected by device, with more than 82% of the online transactions during last year’s Singles’ Day taking place via mobile application. Alibaba has intelligently capitalized on the consumer and technological trends that 21st century China has experienced over the last 10 years.
It is a culture of early adoption and rapid pace, where e-commerce is not seen as an add-on to a company’s marketing strategy, but increasingly the main event. It should be noted that Alibaba’s platforms do not themselves sell; they merely provide the interface or platform to enable the buyer to meet the seller.
Alibaba makes money by selling advertising space to sellers and takes a commission from larger retailers.
Frank Lavin (CEO of Export Now, a leading operator of China e-commerce stores for international brands such as Victoria’s Secret and Samsonite) aptly puts it:
“China is the fastest growing consumer market in the world and e-commerce is the fastest-growing channel in that market… Double 11 is a chance to speak to these China consumers”
What Alibaba has done with Singles’ Day is turn it into a celebration of e-commerce. Celebrities, rock stars, pop stars and sports stars are flown in to help celebrate and the numbers generated from the country’s annual “spend-a-thon” are lit up on a big screen, with analysts eagerly noting down the breakdown of consumer metrics and data by industry, brand category, spending level, region etc.
Alibaba notes its strategy this year is to take Singles’ Day global with a stronger focus on imported products and services, as well as promoting its Chinese brands to overseas buyers. The growth won’t come without some challenges such as language barriers and compliance and trade regulations to adhere to.
However today we are seeing unprecedented levels of cross-border transactions and Singles’ Day celebrates the freedom to “treat youself” by simply swiping and clicking your way through the virtual shopping aisles of the world.
If you want to participate in Chines black Friday, you shall start looking for a TP (Tmall partner), who will represent your products on the platforms, localize your products to the Chine market and get some help from Chinese KOL using influencer marketing!
Happy Singles’ Day!