Tag Archives: retail

Singles Day 2021 Hits $75 Billion!

It’s fall and the start of the holiday shopping season. And once again, the world’s biggest shopping event has occurred. But no, it’s not Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the U.S. The biggest shopping day comes from the opposite side of the globe from the U.S. – China! Singles Day is held annually on November 11 in China.

Singles Day 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 in 2009 to take advantage of the interest, and the rest is retail history.

November 11 is now the globe’s largest shopping event. This year’s sales (stated as Gross Merchandise Value – GMV) reached $84.5 billion, an 8.4% increase over last year. (Note: GMV has no standardized way of calculating the metric.) The GMV reflects sales from November 1 – 11.

Singles’ Day has become an event on its own, including celebrities, fashion shows, TV galas, virtual reality, and augmented reality shopping, and it continues to expand to countries outside of China. However, this year’s event was slightly calmer as Alibaba faces the impact of Beijing’s scrutiny of technology companies and China’s “common prosperity” drive for the nation’s citizens.

Criticisms remain that Alibaba’s infrastructure outside of China is weak, particularly with respect to larger household appliances and items. It is developing international warehouses and improving its transportation efforts though as it seeks to compete with Amazon and other ecommerce companies in the west.

Highlights of this year’s event included:

  • Themes of green logistics, eco-friendly products, and consuming “with care.”
  • Gave out “green vouchers” for discounts on energy-efficient and low-impact goods.
  • Launched a dedicated eco channel that hosted 500,000 products from 2,000 merchants.
  • Offered to recycle packaging waste at 60,000 pickup stations across China.
  • Donated one yuan (16 cents) to charity every time someone interacted during the event with a social media post about charitable giving.

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. What is 11/11?  https://youtu.be/bRv9qG75x2c
  2. Evolution of Singles Day: https://youtu.be/CY_fE5EJZ-Q
  3. Discuss how this holiday compares to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S.
  4. Video report on 2020: https://youtu.be/iwHbvxd5Rqk
  5. WSJ video report: https://on.wsj.com/3olgSm8
  6. How should U.S.-based companies participate in Singles Day?

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

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Socks are Hot

We long for comfort and style in our dress. Sometimes the stylish fashions are not comfortable, but when it comes to socks, we can have both style and comfort now. Why settle for boring old dark dress socks when you can instead wear vibrant, colorful socks that express your personality and fashion sense?

Indeed, socks are booming right now. As people return to the office (and school), their clothing choices have changed. Comfort is more important the fancy dress. And not only have socks become fashionable, many companies also embrace a social mission with purchases.

For example, companies including Bombas  and London Sock Co. donate socks for every purchase made. Company MERGE4 partnered with the San Diego Zoo on a special edition that gives back to wildlife conservancy. And, Cicada uses its socks to raise awareness of environmental issues such as ocean waste and animal poaching.

Socks are a way to make a statement  without being garish. While these socks are more expensive than the mass-market white athletic socks, they are a low-cost way to stand out.

What’s on your feet?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Ask students to look at their feet. What are their socks? Athletic, dress, fashion?
  2. Show sock websites: Bombas: https://bombas.com/
  3. Cicada: https://www.cicadasocks.com/
  4. London Sock Co: https://www.londonsockcompany.com/
  5. Boardroom Socks: https://boardroomsocks.com/
  6. Merge4Socks: https://merge4.com/
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team review a different website selling socks as well as the company’s social media presence.
  8. What is the messaging for each company?
  9. How can these sites be differentiated and marketed?
  10. Have each team develop a social media marketing campaign for their company.

Source:  Ad Week; Footwear News

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The Squid Games Phenomenon

By this point in time, you have most likely heard about the hit show “Squid Games.” The South Korean series playing on Netflix is now the most-watched Netflix show ever – beating out recent hits as “Bridgerton,” “Lupin,” and “Stranger Things.”

In the unlikely case you haven’t seen or heard of the show, the dystopian drama is set on a mysterious island where all the game-players are literally playing for their lives. Dressed alike in teal-green track suits and white canvas sneakers, the 456 numbered players are forced to play children’s games (such a red-light green-light, marbles, and tug-of-war) to the death in order to pay off their crushing load of debt. They are controlled by faceless workers who also dressed alike in red jumpsuits and black masks.

While the high level of viewers watching the show isn’t too surprising, what is surprising is the level of merchandise being sold for the show. Not only are the track suits and t-shirts sold on Netflix, Walmart is also carrying the apparel on its website as part of the “Netflix Hub” of merchandise, along with Squid Game card games. The Walmart deal is the first online storefront that Netflix has created with a national retailer.

Netflix is a certainly an industry behemoth and now has more than 200 million subscribers around the globe. But it faces increasing competition from other streaming platforms such as Amazon, Disney+, and Apple+ TV. It is also entering the video game space in order to retain, and attract, subscribers. Original shows such as this one create buzz and garner more subscribers.

But, are you willing to play?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the show. Who has seen it? What are their thoughts about it.
  2. Show a trailer of the show at: https://youtu.be/oqxAJKy0ii4 (Warning: There is violence in the trailer.)
  3. Show the Netflix merchandise site at: https://www.netflix.shop/collections/shop-squid-game-merchandise
  4. Show Walmart’s Squid Games website store: https://www.walmart.com/search?q=squid+games
  5. What is the target market for Netflix? For the Squid Games show?
  6. Based on the target market profile, will the merchandise be a draw for those customers?

Source:  Ad Week; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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