Daily Insights

Singles Day Marks China’s Consumption Upgrade

By: Liz Flora | Nov 11, 2019

Alibaba’s Singles Day, one of the world’s largest shopping days, has once again blown past its sales record from the previous year with $38.4 billion of GMV in sales with a 26% increase from last year. And one reason for that spending growth isn’t just users buying more stuff, but better stuff. 

One of its four main themes this year was “new consumption,” which Alibaba states is the effort to “create redefined consumer experiences and meet the growing demand of Chinese consumers for new brands and new products.”

Over 240 of these new products were released for 11.11 by 215 top international brands, according to Alibaba. This included beauty brands like YSL Beauty, Lancôme, and Givenchy, with many product development decisions supported by Tmall data. 

Singles Day is also increasingly becoming an opportunity for premium and luxury brands to reach Chinese consumers looking to upgrade their lifestyles with rising purchasing power. This idea of “new consumption” coincides with the concept of Chinese consumers’ “consumption upgrade” that has been a focus of the government in recent years, and was a theme of the 2019 China International Import Expo (CIIE) held in Shanghai earlier in the week.

With over half of the luxury fashion brands in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury China now selling on the platform, luxury is increasingly embracing the shopping festival. For example, Valentino hosted a couture fashion show titled “Daydream” in Beijing earlier this week featuring glamorous evening gowns and a star-studded front row. The show was livestreamed on Tmall, where users could purchase the brand’s special-edition Daydream collection of logo t-shirts, sneakers, and other casual clothes as well as gifts including a $2500 mahjong set. The promotion also featured an omnichannel component, offering a virtual store tour on Tmall of the brand’s Beijing location that allowed users to virtually “shop” the items on the shelves. The collection was also sold via a WeChat Mini Program.

Other luxury companies embraced 11.11 with Tmall-exclusive items. Burberry, for example, launched a Tmall-exclusive collection including a hat and scarf for the event, while Vacheron Constantin teamed up with top fashion influencer Mr. Bags for a Tmall-exclusive watchband that was sold via Net-a-Porter’s newly launched Tmall store.

Alibaba emphasizes the fact that every user’s Tmall screen is different thanks to an AI algorithm that tracks their preferences and recommends relevant items within their desired price range, meaning that both top luxury consumers and less affluent users can coexist on the platform. In fact, another key focus of 11.11 this year was less developed markets, including rural areas and lower-tier cities where lower price points draw customers.