The big bull of ecommerce festivals comes charging into town this Saturday to much anticipation. Singles’ Day and the week that follows will see millions of frenzied electric scooters ferrying an estimated one billion deliveries to offices and apartments across the mainland. If you wanted proof that the Chinese consumer has become a force to be reckoned with, then this is it.
Purchases during the 24-hour period and presales represents over one-fiftieth of China’s annual ecommerce sales, with some brands even making half of their annual turnover on the day. However, many sellers will not make a dime from it. For a number of brands it is an opportunity to accumulate much-needed sales numbers and consumer reviews which are vital to Alibaba’s, JD’s and other platforms’ search results algorithm. It’s also important for consumer perceptions given they are much more likely to buy products that already have sales histories and glowing reviews, further emphasising the need for top notch end-to-end service, even with the added volume from the festival.
Although consumers are very much in a spending mindset, it is not just a case of throwing up a promotion on Tmall and expecting the masses to tap ‘buy’. There will be 140,000 brands – including 60,000 international ones – promoting 15 million products during the festival, so much like the rest of the year, smart marketing tactics will help.
Alibaba has taken the day from just being an online shopping fair to an annual celebration firmly cemented in the festival calendar, arguably the one that generates the most buzz after the Spring Festival-Lunar New Year celebrations. Its evolution to an entertainment-focused event has been vital to its continued growth. Every year, countless pundits have commented that its growth rates couldn’t continue, but with every 11.11 it continues to soar, growing 32% last year to $17.8 billion. This year is likely to be tougher for such growth, with consumers already showing fatigue from the endless ecommerce festivals playing on word associations with dates and China’s festivals. But falling on a Saturday will help, particularly with the entertainment and brick & mortar focus is likely to see sales figures continue to climb.
For a consumer who has been conditioned to expect more glitz and lights with each subsequent promotion, Alibaba has to deliver an ever-more engaging experience. Alibaba is following many of the themes from last year, with big name celebs herded together in a TV countdown gala again directed by David Hill. Tapping into China’s growing love for hip hop, Pharrell Williams will be making the trip to Shanghai’s Mercedes Benz Arena to perform and give the inevitable fly hand gestures and selfies with Jack Ma. ¥250 million ($37.7 million) worth of hongbaos (red envelopes) will also be there to sweeten the deal.
Offline continues to be an ever-bigger part of 11.11, with Alibaba opening 60 new ‘Retail-powered Pop-up Stores’ across 12 cities in China taking inspiration from innovations such as Lancôme’s augmented-reality virtual makeover app at Singapore’s Changi Airport. There is also the conversion of nearly 100,000 stores throughout China into “smart stores.” If you’re in China, it would be worth going to have a look.
If your brand is participating in 11.11, we wish you success and sustained growth following the event. If you’re shopping on the day, we hope you find some good deals and are entertained.
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