Last month, we wrote about the global reach and incredible growth of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – but amazingly another consumer holiday has already eclipsed it.
Incredibly (and ironically), this was a capitalist cultural phenomenon that started in China.
What is Singles Day?
Because it’s been getting a huge amount of coverage in the mainstream press for its epic sales figures, you’ve probably already heard of the Singles Day online phenomenon.
Singles Day is 11th November. Known in China as “bare sticks holiday”, because of how it looks numerically (11.11.) Singles Day began as an anti-Valentine’s Day in the 1990s when students started celebrating their singledom.
What happened next?
The day gained traction when international juggernaut Alibaba adopted the cause in 2009.
Alibaba has continued to grow awareness for Singles’ Day, a consumerist holiday meant for treating oneself and they push the “holiday” heavily on their Tmall consumer-facing outlet.
Coverage this year was so large and globally expansive, the New York Stock Exchange was decorated with the group’s livery and the day was declared a global shopping festival!
How much did the Chinese market buy?
Prepare yourself, these figures are outrageous!
- $1B in sales, in the first 8 min
- $5B in sales, in the first 90 min
- $9.3B sales in the first 12 hours!
The final figures indicate that Chinese consumers spent a record 91.2bn yuan ($14.3bn, £9.4bn) online during the 24 hours of Singles Day this year.
This chart shows the year on year growth and speaks for itself:
This shows both the huge amount of money available in the market, but also the appetite and willingness to spend, quickly! It also exhibits a change to overall eCommerce consumer behaviour which could be an indication of things to come on a global basis and certainly something you should consider in your own marketing strategy.
Is it China only?
For now – the focus has been on China and native brands, but this year there has been a much more obvious presence from global companies all targeting the growing wealth and online power of the Chinese consumer.
Did any UK brands get in on the act? They did, although Chinese brands still dominate the Tmall Singles’ Day page this year, there is an increasing amount of global brands present on the day.
Here’s some smaller UK companies who had great pre-sales success:
- Tangle Teezer, best-selling product presold 9773 pieces
- Grow Gorgeous, best-selling product presold 1964 pieces
- NYR, best-selling product presold 3703 pieces
- EVE LOM, best-selling product presold 1611 pieces
As barriers to global commerce continue to come down, the demand for international brands will only increase.
This is reaffirmed by Rachel Horsefield, managing director of The Hut Group’s beauty division, who says that Singles Day is a key date in its calendar.
“As a British online retailer, Singles Day is our biggest opportunity of the year to increase brand exposure not only in China, but with Chinese consumers around the world,” she said.
What else did we learn?
Chinese consumers are more loyal and spend more than their UK counterparts.
Melissa O’Malley, Director, Global Merchant and Cross-Border Trade Initiatives at PayPal, says “British goods are in demand. The UK is the second most popular online overseas destination for Chinese shoppers, and when shopping for British goods online, they are considerably more valuable and loyal than their British counterparts. Chinese shoppers spend almost three times more in each online transaction, and repeat buy from the same UK retailer nearly twice as much.”
Your online presence has to be perfect through every channel.
Adrien Nussenbaum, co-founder of marketplace specialist Mirakl advises that selling through a marketplace such as Alibaba can help UK retailers already trading in China and on the Alibaba website to boost their visibility and footfall.
Nussenbaum says “If European retailers want to sell a lot they’ll say you need to merchandise, pay attention to the product description and to the experience around the shopping.”
This means getting your product names, descriptions and specifications perfectly and professionally translated and transcreated for the Chinese consumer and not just adapted word for word. (Hint: We’re here to help and have Chinese marketing graduate translators ready to go!)
It also means your processes have to be very tightly controlled and you have to be ready to converse with consumers in a different language to process order queries quickly and efficiently.
A final takeaway point is that mobile shopping is massive with a reported 68% of total Singles’ Day sales coming from mobile devices.
So if you’re going to succeed in China, or any country for that matter – consider mobile as part of your eCommerce strategy whether it’s a responsive site or a native mobile app.
It’s clear that the £100bn Chinese market is a huge opportunity and it’s set to grow by 30% a year until 2018. If you need help to translate your product and marketing material to make the most of it, or even to help you make your website multilingual, get in touch with us. With over 1250 clients and 12 years’ experience in Chinese translation services, we can help.