On Your Radar: Singles Day

Last year, China’s celebration of self-love had more sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Introducing Singles Day – the next big thing in global retail.

What is Singles Day?

Singles Day falls on 11/11 every year. Originally starting as a day to celebrate bachelors, Singles Day has evolved to become a 24-hour shopping event packed with deals and discounts – and ironically, a day for matchmaking singles.

Single or not, Singles Day is the chance for all Chinese Gen Z shoppers to treat themselves at discounted prices. It’s one of a number of Chinese shopping events that have risen to prominence in recent years.

Who created Singles Day?

Although the shopping holiday technically came second to the unofficial holiday for Chinese bachelors, It was marketplace Alibaba that really gave Singles Day its commercial clout. Within three years, Alibaba was generating $1bn on Singles Day – and by 2018, the figure was $31bn. Out of all of the Chinese retail trends to hit the market, it’s now the best of the best.

Alibaba's set up singles day - and the platform dominates singles day marketing to this day.

However, the original Singles Day was created by – you guessed it – students. In 1993 at Nanjing University, single males were looking for a way to break the monotony that they associated with single life. And so, Singles Day was born.

Who celebrates Singles Day?

Singles Day is mainly celebrated in China, but in recent years it has spread to the surrounding regions. South East Asia, in particular, has embraced the shopping event.

shoppertainment, live-streams and galas are a huge part of singles day marketing.

Singles Day encapsulates everything Gen Z loves about shopping – discounts that appeal to their money-saving attitude, a strong focus on independence and self-love, and an innovative showcase of shoppertainment including live streams and celebrity presentations. So you can bet that young Chinese shoppers will be out in force for Singles Day 2020.

When is Singles Day 2020?

Singles Day falls on the 11th of November every year. The date is symbolic in itself – in China, the character “1” means “bare stick”, which is slang for a “single man”. The big draw of Singles Day is the limited time offers – it usually runs for 24 hours before everything returns to relative normal – but the savviest shoppers will pay attention to Chinese marketplaces in the days before, as often they can access early bird savings ahead of the big day. 

How big is Singles Day?

Singles Day is the biggest shopping event in the world. Chinese marketplaces that participate in the 24-hour super-sale frequently hit the equivalent billions of US dollars, and with shopping events in the build-up and aftermath of Singles Day, there are plenty of opportunities for consumers to secure bargains.

However, while Singles Day is huge in terms of revenue, it’s not quite achieved world domination just yet. As it stands, Black Friday is the shopping event that everyone thinks of in global terms  – but as more and more young consumers embrace trends of self-love and self-care, Singles Day could be on the cusp of a global debut.

How can brands get involved in Singles Day?

Western brands that have embraced Singles Day in previous years include ASOS, Estee Lauder, Nike and Apple – and celebrities often feature in a star-studded lineup in Alibaba’s opening gala. Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian and Mariah Carey are all Singles Day alumni from years gone by.

Nike is just one of the global brands that got involved in Singles Day in previous years.

For brands looking to make a great first impression on the Chinese market, Singles Day is a huge, lucrative opportunity. But getting in on the action requires some sensitivity to culture. Marketplace ecommerce is booming in China, so brands that traditionally sell primarily on their own sites may need to consider branching out onto popular Chinese platforms. However, in recent years, brands like Adobe and Nike have taken a dual approach – advertising Singles Day discounts on their own websites as well as in Chinese marketplaces. There’s also the potential to reach markets beyond China – Aliexpress is Alibaba’s international marketplace, bringing Singles Day to audiences around the world. Who knows – it could be your first step into a brand new market.

Did you know that Student Beans has a dedicated Asia-Pacific team? Get in touch today to plan your global student marketing strategy with us.