World’s Largest Online Retail Shopping Event: 11/11 Singles Day

Once again the world’s biggest shopping event has occurred. And, no, it’s not Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S. By far, the biggest shopping day of the year was on November 11, Singles’ Day, in China. (The holiday originally began in 1993 as a celebration for people who are single, chosen because of the connection between singles and the number ‘1’. November 11 now serves as an occasion for single people to party – and shop!)

This year, sales reached more than $8.6 billion in the first hour and passed 2016’s total sales by noon! By the end of the day the gross merchandise value tally was more than $25.3 billion, an increase of 39% from 2016 sales! Even more impressive though is that a whopping 90% of sales were completed from mobile devices (compared to 82% in 2016). At its peak, Alipay processed 256,000 transactions per second.

Singles’ Day is by far the largest shopping and entertainment festival in the world. Consider that it is 18 times bigger than Amazon Prime Day, and 2.5 times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. This year there were more than 15 million products from 140,000 top brands and companies. Top countries selling to China included Japan, U.S., Australia, Germany, and South Korea.

Singles’ Day has become an event on its own, including celebrities, fashion shows, TV galas, virtual reality, and augmented reality shopping. Companies engaged in a “Catch the Cat” augmented-reality game that engaged customers and offered discounts. There were other games as well, including an interactive trivia game on Tmall and Taobao apps. In addition, Alibaba offered viewers a televised gala that featured international stars including Pharrell Williams, Nicole Kidman, Jessie J, Maria Sharapova, LeBron James, and Zhang Ziyi.

Why is it so important for global brands to enter this shopping day? Consider that there are roughly 300 million middle-class shoppers in China, rising to an estimated 500 million in the next 10-15 years. While Singles Day may have originally started for lonely Chinese consumers, the shopping day now is seen as critical to driving China’s – and the world – economy.

If you are not familiar with Singles Day, there are a number of Web sources with information about the event and Alibaba, including the following:

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Most students will not have previously heard of China’s Single Day. Discuss the shopping holiday and its importance in China.
  2. This is likely the first time students have heard about Singles Day. There are a number of videos that can help explain the event:
    1. What is 11/11?  https://youtu.be/bRv9qG75x2c
    2. Singles Day: https://youtu.be/uDDy50RP67A
    3. An American at Alibaba: https://youtu.be/7ZxM_HaEWBI
    4. News reports: https://youtu.be/gwGGrLpUkdg
    5. What is Alibaba: https://youtu.be/gk69hV6LEgI
  1. Discuss how this holiday compares to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S.
  2. How should U.S.-based companies participate in Singles Day?

Source: Brandchannel.com (2017, Nov. 13). Alibaba’s 2017 11.11 global shopping festival passes $25B.

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