Double 11: The Ultimate Chinese Shopping Festival
Eleven years in, and Alibaba Group, the e-commerce and media giant that created and grew 11.11 into the world’s largest shopping festival, is still delivering record results – and the innovations necessary to make them happen every November.
Alibaba’s gross merchandise volume on Singles’ Day from 2011 to 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars). Source: Statista
“Today we showed the world what the future of consumption looks like for brands and consumers. We are meeting the growing demand of Chinese consumers and helping them upgrade their lifestyles, while introducing new users to our digital economy from across China and around the world.”-
Fan Jiang, president of Taobao and Tmall.
By the time 11.11 ended at midnight on Monday, Alibaba had generated RMB268.4 billion (US$38.4 billion) in gross merchandise volume in just 24 hours, a 26% jump over last year’s numbers.
Smartphone and Live Streaming Boosts Sales
Chinese mobile phone users spend an average of 6.2 hours per day in front of their screens, for a total of 1.8 days per week. Data was collected in 2019: 1.56 working smartphones were then registered in the country (for reference, the population of China is 1.4 billion). And as of March of this year, Chinese Internet users were spending 7.2 hours a day online. This is almost 2 hours more than in 2019 – 5.6 hours, and will affect sales on November 11.
Live streams on Taobao Live. Photo: Alizila
In recent years, streams from villages have been especially popular in China: they even have a separate tab on Taobao Live. Although all discounts are known in advance and for some goods you need to leave a deposit, on November 11 there will also be live streams. To do this, Taobao has hired 300 celebrity hosts, and 400 executives will also be promoting their products.
Luxury brands are buying in
While luxury brands have previously participated in Double 11, this year we’ve seen premium brands like Balenciaga, Cartier, Dior and Valentino launch campaigns where shoppers can score exclusive items and gifts with free installment payment plans (not a great combination). But don’t expect coupons or discounts from these brands, that’s for the affordable luxury brands like Coach and Michael Kors.
What the Chinese bought, you will learn from social networks
In the aftermath of Singles’ Day, some shoppers take to social media to share what they purchased or how much they spent. In 2019, among many Singles’ Day-related topics on Weibo, the hashtag #Double11WhatDidYouBuy (#双十一买什么#) gave readers an inside look at some consumers’ shopping carts.
Before and after the Shopping Festival.
Other countries are copying the shopping festival
Foreign e-commerce companies are following China with a November 11 sale. The success of Alibaba’s holiday has led to replicas in other countries. In Vietnam, the shopping holiday also takes place on 11.11. In Indonesia, there is already a holiday 12.12 – 12 December, and somewhere the sales are arranged by the “double nine” or “double ten”.
Alibaba itself is promoting its holiday abroad. Tmall Global this year helped midsize businesses bring goods to Chinese internet platforms if the companies did not have physical stores in the country. In Russia, shopping with Chinese characteristics is represented by AliExpress: by November 11, the advertising campaign even began to annoy users of the VKontakte application.
What about you? Did you buy something?