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Singles Day

3 key driving forces behind this year’s Singles’ Day

By Sophie Cheng, General Manager, FutureBrand China   

On the 10th November, Taylor Swift will headline the Alibaba Group’s Singles’ Day launch event at Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz arena, kicking off the yearly 24-hour shopping spree that has come to dominate Chinese consumer commerce.

Swift’s presence is reflective of the new internationalism of a festival which now includes twenty-two thousand brands from eighty countries, and which last year saw over USD 30 billion of discounted merchandise sold in 24 hours.

Here are three key driving forces behind the success of the festival, which is set to be the biggest ever this year:-

  1. The rise of experience: Discounting is an important part of the event, but brands are moving away from seeing the festival as a race to the bottom. Instead, experience is becoming widely seen as one of the keys to the festival’s success, for example through celebrity endorsement and the gamification of the Alibaba platform. 
  2. Sociability and video commerce: Chinese consumers spend on average 44% of their time on social media applications, with 11% of their time spent watching, sharing, and creating short videos on apps such as Douyin (known as Tik Tok outside of China). Video-driven e-commerce has really taken off in recent years, with billions of dollars of livestreaming transactions occurring through Taobao in 2018 alone.
  3. Ecommerce is king: In 2016, Alibaba Group co-founder Jack Ma coined the term ‘new retail’ to describe the seamless integration of online and offline channels, and this year 200,000 ‘smart stores’ in China have signed up for Singles’ Day to make discounts available to Alibaba customers. While surveys have shown the younger generation of shoppers in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities distinctly favour this trend, Chinese consumers ultimately are more comfortable committing to the final transaction online. 

Ultimately, to win in China, brands need to understand all the nuances and emotive drivers in the world’s most powerful purchasing community so they can strengthen the connection between their brand purpose and everyday consumer experience within this exciting, but constantly shifting, market.