Singles Day 2020 Hits $75 Billion!

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 is on November 11, Singles Day, in China. The holiday was originally started in 1993 by college students as a celebration for people who are single, chosen because of the connection between singles and the number ‘1’. Eventually, Chinese ecommerce company Alibaba forged an online shopping event to take advantage of the interest, and the rest is history.

November 11 is now the globe’s largest shopping event. This year, sales (stated as Gross Merchandise Value – GMV) reached the astonishing amount of $75.1 billion over an 11-day period, including 11/11 as the finale event!

Singles’ Day has become an event on its own, including celebrities, fashion shows, TV galas, virtual reality, and augmented reality shopping. This year the shopping started with a November 1 evening event with a live-streamed, star-studded gala starring Katy Perry. There was also interactive entertainment and sport via Alibaba’s app to increase audience and shopper participation.

Highlights this year included:

  • 100 brands sold $15 million within two hours.
  • 60 million consumers used Tmall’s 3D shopping app.
  • S. brands accounted for more than $5 billion of the total spent.
  • Livestream technology included real-time translation into English, Russian, Spanish, and French.
  • At its peak, orders reached 583,000 orders per second.

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 8-12 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 worlds – economy.

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. Discuss how this holiday compares to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S.
  2. Video report on 2020: https://youtu.be/5OJePCHi0Gw
  3. WSJ video report: https://www.wsj.com/video/alibabas-singles-day-gets-boost-from-pandemic-spending-shift/868C7DAA-F76E-44EF-AFCE-BF000A185B2E.html
  4. How should U.S.-based companies participate in Singles Day?

Source: AdWeek; CNBC; Forbes; New York Time; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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