Singles Day 2018 – “11/11 Global Shopping Festival” Hits $30 Billion

Once again the world’s biggest shopping event has occurred. And, no, it’s not Black Friday and Cyber Monday. By far, the biggest shopping day of the year is on November 11, Singles Day, in China. The holiday originally began in 1993 by college students 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 (stated as Gross Merchandise Value – GMV) hit $1 billion in only 1 minute and 25 seconds! At the end of the first hour, the sales reached $10 billion! By the end of 24 hours, the sales were an astounding $30.8 billion!

There were more than 100 million items sold in 17 countries, with 180,000 brands participating. More than one billion packages are estimated to be shipping. Even more impressive is that a whopping 90% of sales were completed from mobile devices. Wow.

Singles’ Day is by far the largest shopping and entertainment festival in the world. Compare it to Amazon’s Prime Day at $4 billion, and Black Friday at $14 billion online to see the difference.

Singles’ Day has become an event on its own, including celebrities, fashion shows, TV galas, virtual reality, and augmented reality shopping. It started with a November 10 evening event with a live-streamed, star-studded gala show that drew in 240 million viewers (that’s the equivalent of one in five people in China). There was also interactive entertainment and sport via Alibaba’s app to increase audience and shopper participation.

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 many 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. Evolution of Singles Day: https://www.alizila.com/video/the-evolution-of-11-11/
    3. Highlights of 2018 event: https://youtu.be/W9JNfS0dAL0
  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: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, CNBC, The Verge, other news sources

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