Singles’ Day 2016: Fast becoming the world’s biggest online shopping event

November 8, 2016
4 min read

Originally starting as a counter to Valentine’s Day, the 11th of November has become one of the most sought after national sales period in China ever since Alibaba’s entry catapulted it to fame in 2009. But the event is losing its association exclusively with singles and with China, fast becoming the leading global online shopping event.

Below, Mintel’s Director of Research in APAC Matthew Crabbe discusses the implications the online shopping event’s success has for global brands while Delon Wang, Manager of Trends in APAC, discusses the trends powering the day’s popularity.

The Globalisation of China’s Online Retail Extravaganza

“11.11 has become the “singular” moment in China’s online shopping calendar, and increasingly around the world. But even online retail spending is slowing in China. According to Mintel’s report Online to Offline Retailing – China, July 2016, business-to- consumer online retail growth halved in 2015, and is expected to grow by 33% in 2016. 11.11 2016 will also see slower growth of an estimated 40%. That would mean a total GMV for the 24-hour event in 2016 of about US$ 20 billion. No small beans!

Mintel research shows that around half of the population in China are internet users, equivalent to twice the US population of 321 million in 2015. Of that internet-using population, 386 million had shopped online – still greater than the entire US population. Online shopping has become mainstream within the Chinese retail industry.

Overseas online purchasing by Chinese consumers is growing even faster than domestic sales. Chinese online shoppers are therefore becoming significant consumers for all the world’s brands. Walmart Asia’s CEO, Scott Price went on record as saying (towards the end of 2015) that “China will drive more than half the world’s retail growth over the next decade”.

Single’s Day 2016 will have even more of an international focus, with more participating foreign brands, including the likes of Zara, Nike, Uniqlo, Bose, Samsung, Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, P&G and Unilever. New brands joining the event in 2016 include Burberry, Maserati, Apple and Guerlain. To attract a more global audience, especially in the US, Alibaba announced the gala event prior to Single’s Day 2016 will feature a performance by Katy Perry, and be directed by Oscars, NFL Super Bowl and American Idol producer David Hill.”

Matthew Crabbe, Director of Research, APAC

The Power of One. One. One. One.

“Mintel’s Trend The Power of One suggests that the original concept of Singles’ Day was created due to a rising popularity of adults who are comfortable with singlehood and if couples have a day to commemorate their relationship, why not singles who are perfectly fine with where they are.

The Singles Day celebration has now attained a global reputation due to its record-breaking performance. To explain the potential success of this phenomenon, Mintel’s Trend Let’s Make a Deal comes in as a potential candidate. Consumers are looking for new ways to enjoy discounts and promotions, moving from just pure cost savings towards a fun and social pursuit. The 24-hour race against time, the online-only limitations and the participation of global brands have turned this into a massive online shopping fiesta.

Besides launching a collaborative outdoor ad campaign, Alibaba has also announced that this year’s event would feature a live performance by Katy Perry, virtual shopping and even a live-streamed fashion show for viewers to pre-order items. The Fear of Missing Out, especially with such large scale marketing taking place, will likely move even the most anti-online shoppers to activity as the days count down. This year’s Singles Day online promotion should prove to be another spectacular victory for e-commerce.

Delon Wang, Manager of Trends, APAC

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