Few things symbolise modern China more than Single’s Day. The most obvious parallel is the remarkable scale of the day – 278 million products worth $9.3 billion sold in 24 hours last year, and it is on track to be even bigger this year. It also represents how the Internet is addressing some of China’s big challenges such as limited retail infrastructure in the hinterland. In addition, this year’s integration with 180,000 brick & mortar stores in 330 cities illustrates how the lines between online and offline are increasingly blurring in China.
Yet Single’s Day’s most interesting representation of contemporary China is that a celebration based purely on consumerism has become one of the biggest days of the Chinese calendar; with the build-up, buzz and now the Chinese New Year-style-celebrity gala, rivalling all other Chinese celebrations for scale, with the exception of Chinese New Year.
Like the Lunar New Year, which is celebrated in cities in every corner of the world, Alibaba is hoping Single’s Day will become the next festival that China exports globally. The company has aspirations to become a truly global company, which is one of the focuses of Single’s Day ’15. Not only is it bringing countless products from around the world to Chinese consumers, it is hoping the massive Single’s Day discounts from 200,000 mainly-Chinese manufacturers on AliExpress will capture the imaginations of Americans, Russians, Brazilians and many other countries as it has with Chinese consumers. Single’s Day is Alibaba’s Trojan Horse; which it hopes will establish the company for consumers globally.
Things are on track for an even bigger Single’s Day this year. $100 million was spent a minute in the first half an hour, with 2012’s $3.1 billion total blitzed in 31 minutes. Within 90 minutes, $5 billion dollars had been spent, 72% on mobile. By 1:15am, consumers from 200 countries and regions had bought something. Chinese couldn’t get enough international products, with Japan, USA, Korea, Australia and Germany the top-5 origins in the first hour.
Many of the 30,000 international brands from 25 countries who are participating in Single’s Day ’15 look to be selling well. Some foreign retailers sell two-three months worth of products in the single day. It’s no surprise that foreign products are the focus of this year’s Single’s Day – 40% of all products sold online in China are foreign, versus just 10% of China’s overall retail sales.
China Skinny was fortunate to be hosted by Alibaba at the Gala in Beijing, and it did not disappoint. The Gala was full of interactive mobile shaking, prizes, Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese celebs, a prefilmed advert with Kevin Spacey addressing the Chinese as the President of the USA (the crowd went wild) and a special appearance with Jack Ma and James Bond (aka Daniel Craig) who thrilled the audience.
For those looking for the biggest thing on Single’s Day this year – it may be the late Michael Jackson’s Neverland, which is currently on a one-day auction with a starting price of ¥500 million ($79 million).
With all the hype, Single’s Day – like any other day in China – is incredibly competitive, which is something that China Skinny can help with. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.