Trends and Tips to Rev Up the Engine of Singles’ Day Event for the Long Haul
Mention Singles’ Day or 'Double 11' in China and certain parts of Asia, and the world’s biggest online shopping festival comes to mind. How big, you ask? From the first Double 11 sales event—held in 2009 by Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall, in which only 27 brands participated—the festival has grown to over 290,000 brands and 900 million customers in this year alone.
The latest figures from Alibaba for 2021 revealed US$84.5 billion in total from the sales frenzy , outstripping that of US shopping holidays Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
With each Double 11 getting more robust year after year, so are the trends and developments that aid its expansion and customer experience. Here are some exciting trends we observed coming out of this year's festival and for each, accompanying opportunities that brands can leverage and experiment with, to build a better customer experience for the next Double 11 event and beyond!
Making Double 11 Greener
With the call to act on climate change ringing louder, major platforms are putting more focus on sustainability and will use more renewable energy in fulfilment. Tmall is supporting the trend by featuring a dedicated vertical that showcases energy-efficient and low-impact products, as well as issuing RMB100 million (US$15.7 million) worth of 'green' vouchers to incentivise shopping decisions that contribute to an environmentally-friendly lifestyle.
JD.com developed recyclable packaging, deployed new-energy cargo vans and adopted photovoltaic power generation in warehousing. And on November 1, Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao Network introduced package recycling across 10,000 Cainiao Post Stations in 20 cities to reduce the festival’s carbon footprint.
Opportunity: Besides championing their own eco-conscious efforts, brands can latch on a platform’s green logistics such as a self-pickup network and package recycling stations to reduce their carbon footprint and increase recycling efforts collectively—not only helping the environment, but also building brand loyalty among consumers.
Inclusion Makes More Sense
As the pandemic shifted older generations to shop more online—a norm that is likely to remain—Alibaba launched a senior mode for its app to better serve its senior shoppers. The specialised mode features larger text, icons and voice-assisted technology, making it easy to search for products using voice commands. Even promotional tools, such as vouchers and various discounts, are simplified for seniors, as one can imagine the information overload triggered by the Double 11 shopping frenzy.
Tmall also launched ‘One Shoe Project’, which allows those with one leg to buy a single shoe for half the price of a pair. The initiative helped lessen the frustration these oft overlooked shoppers face in shoe-buying to support the differently abled community. According to survey data from the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, there are currently 85 million people with disabilities in China.
Opportunity: As the population ages more rapidly in China and around Asia, taking strides to include more market groups such as the seniors and persons with disabilities (PWDs) is a win-win for all. While the senior mode may have been spurred in large part due to rising senior digital users, the ‘One Shoe Project’ gave rise to awareness of other under-represented shopper groups. Brands can start digging deeper into which groups these are for the brand and define how brands can address the needs of these shopper groups.
A Metaverse To Spark Interest
In the race towards entering the metaverse, Tmall made a step forward with its first art exhibition launched within its mobile app. Designed to be a more immersive experience, the ‘Double 11 Metaverse Art Exhibition’ was hosted by a virtual idol named Ayayi and showcased eight limited-edition NFT collections from leading brands such as Burberry, Wuliangye and Alienware.
Consumers also tuned in to a ‘metaverse symphony’, conducted by a digital avatar of Beethoven, no less. The virtual musicians played NFTs in the form of branded virtual instruments, such as a Bobbi Brown trumpet or Coca-Cola drums, which could then be purchased.
Opportunity: When it comes to limited edition NFTs and digital collectibles, luxury brands are taking the rein here. Major brands looking to increase their presence in China and drive demand should consider developing and packaging NFTs with their products. With NFT marketing still in its nascent stage, brands can place themselves at the forefront in unlocking its success.
Currency Goes Digital
From VR shopping to QR code payments to live-streaming commerce, the new retail tech revealed and used by many of China’s digital giants in past Double 11 events are a feast for tech watchers.
Recently, platforms started to offer digital coupons in the form of China’s digital currency, the e-CNY or digital yuan. The digital yuan is expected to completely replace physical cash and has the potential to compete with established fintech tools like Alipay and WeChat Pay. Also on the table are ‘group purchase’ tokens, which encourage consumers to make bulk purchases and gives them more purchasing power when they do so.
Opportunity: The digital yuan will likely be a strong contender when brands consider which payment modes to accept. With the Chinese government encouraging the public to download its digital wallet app and using eCNY for transactions, this new currency, though yet to be widely adopted, should not be ignored.
No Shortage of Opportunities
On a basic level, Double 11 is one of the most important new product launch events for overseas brands entering China for the first time. Luckily for them, Chinese consumers’ demand for international products keeps building. In fact, more than 2 million new products were introduced during this year’s festival, with Tmall Global bringing in more than 2,600 new overseas brands—double that of last year.
Simplicity rules, especially amid complex platforms guidelines and promotion ruses consumers face. While it might feel like you need to do more and add more frills to get attention, try the less-is-more approach by sticking to what's true about your brand, your consumer and the product. By not contributing even more to the content landfill this commercial festival already generates, brands can rise above the clamour by providing customers with a simplified and consistent experience across channels.
New trends often emerge from the Double 11 festival and brands that can leverage learnings from them will find opportunities to enhance their customer experiences that will last far beyond the duration of the festival.