September 16, 2021

What is Singles Day–or Double 11 Festival–in Ecommerce?

By Misha Pabari / Global Ecommerce, Tmall

It’s no secret that most of China’s shopping takes place online via marketplaces such as Tmall Global, JD.com and more. Spanning from anywhere between 24 hours to several weeks, shopping festivals such as Singles’ Day–or Double 11 Festival–have become a prominent part of any brands’ China ecommerce trading calendar.

What is Singles’ Day?

Singles’ Day festival is the biggest 24-hour online shopping festival in the world and originated in China. Taking place on 11th November each year, the shopping event has broken sales figure records each year since its birth and is often likened to Black Friday in the US, despite their differences.

The history behind Double 11

November 11th (Double 11) was nominated by students in 1993 as a day to celebrate singledom or “anti-Valentine’s Day” in China. 11.11 was selected thanks to the symbolic nature of the number one where shoppers were encouraged to celebrate and be proud of their single relationship status while treating themselves to a special purchase.

Alibaba spotted an opportunity to leverage this event turning Singles’ Day into a national shopping holiday. They first held the mass-scale shopping festival in 2009 in collaboration with a handful of brands and it was an immediate success with Chinese shoppers. Total GMV on the Singles’ Day 2009 reached around US$7.8 million, surpassing the average daily GMV that year by almost seven-fold.

The opportunity for international brands

Singles’ Day or Double 11 Festival has grown to become an unmatched opportunity for international brands to engage with loyal customers, develop new and dedicated product launches, and gain thorough consumer insights.

Blurring the lines between shopping and entertainment, shopping platforms and social media platforms alike adopt increased elements of social commerce and promotions into their offerings. Alibaba has been known to build up excitement for the shopping event with new site or app features which remain guarded until the grand reveal on Double 11 itself. Livestreaming and gamification with the use of influencers or KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) have become increasingly popular methods of driving brand awareness and boosting demand generation on marketplaces.

Pattern’s Greater China team announced record-breaking results for its Tmall Trade Partner business over the 2020 Double 11 Shopping Festival, demonstrating the resilience of the Chinese economy through the pandemic and the continued demand for international brands by Chinese consumers.

Tmall stores managed by Pattern grew their sales by an average of 91% year-on-year across the 11 days of 11.11 trading in 2020. In addition, every one of the brands we represent on Tmall achieved sales in the first 11 days of November 2020 that were greater than their Tmall sales for the whole of November 2019. In addition, several of the American brands that we represent in China achieved 11.11 sales that were up more than 200% year-on-year.

Building trading momentum throughout the year

They say that timing is everything, and this is certainly true when considering your annual promotional calendar on Tmall in China. For the majority of brands selling on Tmall, the biggest trading peak will occur around the Singles’ Day and brands can expect to make 30% of the total yearly revenue in the month leading up to November 11th.

The graph below shows an example of Tmall trading cadence across the year for international brands and demonstrates how each peak gets larger throughout the year, in the run-up to Double 11. These other important promotional trading periods, shown on our trading calendar should be used to test promotions and establish credibility with customers and Tmall.

Annual Trading Cadence for Global Brand

Many international brands fail to realize that it is invitation-only to participate with an official Tmall promotion; one that the marketplace will drive traffic to. Your performance in the main promotional periods earlier in the year will determine whether you are invited to participate in Tmall’s official Double 11 activity.

Not only this, Chinese consumers expect to see the biggest discounts and special offers for Double 11, so ensure you keep your best offers for the holiday. The biggest deals are focused on the day itself, but pre-ordering and showcasing of deals start up to a month before and many brands carry on promotions until November 12th or 13th.

Planning for Singles’ Day 2021

The results from Double 11 Festival in 2020 proves that China continues to be a lucrative land of opportunity for brands who have invested to develop a strong brand awareness and localized proposition across global marketplaces. Promotional planning for Singles’ Day now begins increasingly far in advance for international brands and should be an important part of your trading strategy.

Our General Manager for Asia, Arthur Cheung, explains: “Our data-driven approach to trading on Tmall, working in close partnership with the brands we represent, ensures that we optimize our 11.11 trading and marketing campaigns. This has resulted in another strong year of growth that we aim to capitalize further on in 2021.”

Pattern is a Tmall 5* Trade Partner, and provides full-service support on everything from market entry strategy, and Tmall Flagship Store set-up and the ongoing operation, to the marketing and trading of your Tmall store.

We also act as a Trade Partner for JD.com, WeChat, Pinduoduo and Koala. For brands looking for a wider presence across Asia Pacific, we can support your launch on Lazada, Coupang, Shopee and Amazon.jp. Looking to expand further? We can help your brand across online marketplaces worldwide.

For more information on our approach to trading on Tmall Global, download our free Tmall Trading Guide or to learn how we can help your brand in the Asian market or for Singles’ Day, get in touch today.