China’s Single’s Day on November 11th is an annual non-official holiday celebrating singledom. The date was chosen because 11/11 looks like “bare branches,” the Chinese expression for the unattached.
Inspired by the retail mania surrounding America’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, 10 years ago Alibaba organised a large-scale online sale around a national holiday. Exceeding all expectations, the annual shopping event continues to break records with year-on-year growth.
Last year, Alibaba generated US$25.3 billion in sales in 24 hours. In comparison, the 2017 cumulative sales of Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday in America amounted to only US$14.5 billion.
Single’s Day isn’t limited to just Alibaba’s platforms or Chinese shoppers. AliExpress focuses on consumers abroad, Lazada targets the Southeast Asian market and rival e-commerce sites such as JD.com have also joined in.
Unlike traditional online sales, Single’s Day blends e-commerce with entertainment. Viewers can click to purchase while they watch the annual gala event. They can use VR headsets to play games during the show or interact with mobile apps to win lucky draws. Think of Single’s Day as the Superbowl and Black Friday rolled into one. Last year, Pharrell performed a cringeworthy ditty dedicated to Single’s Day, aptly titled “Double Eleven Day”, and Nicole Kidman, Maria Sharapova, and Jessie J appeared on stage.
Single’s Day isn’t limited to consumer products. Last year, over 10 million business-class tickets to Europe, Australia and the US were snapped up, along with 1.1 million travel packages. 500,000 luxury hotel room nights and 100,000 buffet dinners at five-star hotels. However, these heavily-discounted deals came with lots of caveats and conditions, leaving many consumers disgruntled and the hotel’s brand equity damaged. Our advice? Join this carnival of consumption by offering unusual experiences and value-added services. This will help increase brand awareness while lowering inventory risks.
Alibaba is expecting over a billion packages this year. To handle the sheer volume, Alibaba opened China’s largest robotic warehouse a few weeks ago in Wuxi. Dubbed a “robotic smart warehouse”, the technology is designed to help up to 700 automated vehicles avoid collisions and intelligently distribute parcels.
This year Single’s Day will extend to 48 hours, sending China’s incredible shopping spree around the world with buying starting at midnight on November 10 in Sydney. We can already hear the records breaking.
Thinking of participating? Keep in mind campaigns must have a strong media plan and channel strategy in place to ensure consumers are aware of your brand leading up to the day. Leverage email marketing and social media channels and use insights to reach audiences more precisely by segmenting targets. Don’t forget to embed tracking to ensure that you obtain data from interested shoppers which will help refine your strategy next year.
Make sure your website is mobile friendly and optimised. 90% of last year’s sales were made on mobile devices.
Numbers play a big role in Chinese culture. The phonetic sound of numbers can make or break a deal. It goes without saying that if you are planning limited-edition items or pricing, avoid inauspicious numbers: Eight sounds like wealth, nine means eternity. Avoid four (“death”) and five (“not”.) A combination of numbers can also change the meaning. For example, two is considered a good number due to the Chinese saying “Good things come in pairs.” However, 24 is unlucky as the combination sounds like “easy to die”. Unsure of which numbers to use and need advice on your China strategy? Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org .