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Consumerism at a new high on Singles Day


A close up of a hand holding a bankcard, close to a computer

writer icon Vera Jones     ISB   |   Business & Investment     🕐 12. Nov. 2018


Yesterday was Singles Day, known to many as China’s version of Black Friday. Once again, sales records were broken.

Billions of dollars

Internet Giant Alibaba Group recorded $1 billion in sales within the first 85 seconds of going live. After 24 hours, they had beaten all previous records, reporting sales of more than $30 billion

Singles Day is a holiday that has its origin in China and dates back to the early 1990s. The date, 11th November, is said to be the ideal date by those that celebrate. This is because the number 1 represents the single individual. Popular among young Chinese people, it is a chance for them to celebrate their pride in their singleness.

Surge in consumerism

The day sees an enormous surge of consumerism and online shopping. It has become a multi-million dollar sales event, ever since 2009 when e-commerce giant Alibaba Group took Singles Day and marketed it as an occasion for consumers to treat themselves to gifts. Together with the marketing, huge discounts were announced.

Alibaba Group trademarked the term “Double 11” in 2012 so that no other companies could use it in their marketing. This is particularly significant in China, where the term is used to describe the importance of the date, 11th November.

The sales day has evolved

Over the past nine years, Singles Day has become the largest online and offline shopping day in the world. It can be compared to a culmination of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the U.S. alternatives, one that is predominantly in-store, and one that is online.

In 2014, Tmall CEO Wang Yulei announced that the Alibaba Group’s plans for Singles Day were to go global. He wrote in an article for Sina Tech - “Singles Day will be for the whole world”.

Today, it is a worldwide event, even a major celebration for some. Alibaba Group is behind the majority of the sales happening on Singles Day. They host an annual gala with celebrity guests and entertainment from stars such as Pharrell Williams and Jessie J, turning the entire event into an enormous corporate party.

In Scandinavia

In Sweden, this year price-comparison website PriceRunner reported that Singles Day offers had increased by between 70% to 100%. Gradually, more retailers are getting on board and promoting a sale in connection to Singles Day.

In Denmark and Norway, there appears to be less interest from the retailers. However, many Scandinavian consumers could be still be shopping through international retailers. Such is the ease of the online shopping experience.

Still not worldwide appeal

Despite the desire for globalisation, not every country is onboard with Singles Day yet. 11th November is already a very important day in much of Europe. It is Armistice Day, a sombre day marked with respect and remembrance. 2018 is a particularly important year for remembrance, as it is 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Nevertheless, sales are once again up this year on Singles Day. As the holiday continues to grow, the growth may slow down. For now, it continues to climb.



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