October 23, 2017

Singles’ Day – the biggest global shopping day you’ve never heard of.

Originating in China in the 1990s as an Anti-Valentine’s celebration for single people, it was then adopted by e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2009 and has since become a day when everyone, regardless of relationship status, self-gifts. It takes place every year on 11th November, or 11.11, quite deliberately as each 1 represents a single person (cute or sad – you decide).

What’s the opportunity for UK advertisers?

Singles’ Day has well and truly evolved; from national shopping holiday to high growth season opportunity. In 2016 over 40,000 merchants across the world participated in the 11.11 sale, driving more than £14.2bn in 24 hours (an increase of +25% YoY), making it the world’s most successful online shopping day of the year. Notably, 27% of these purchases came from international merchants.

The decreasing value of the British pounds means that more and more Chinese shoppers are looking to shop at UK retailers, as demonstrated in the below graph from Rakuten.  And this trend isn’t just online. This year saw a record number of Chinese tourists coming to London with the sole purpose to shop.

What are the benefits?

Single’s Day presents a unique chance to reach the affluent APAC consumer, both abroad and within the UK. Expect to see a considerable increase in AOV, a low return rate (Chinese consumers know they will need to return items internationally at their own expense, and therefore research and make their purchases carefully) as well as the opportunity to obtain an extensive loyal customer base.

What about from a UK perspective?

Whilst you should look to target Asian consumers residing in the UK, there is little resonance with the overall UK audience at present. This could be down to a lack of awareness amongst consumers, or advertisers not having the offers in place to encourage consumer spending on Singles’ Day.

The key event in the UK shopping calendar is still Black Friday. Falling on the 24th November this year, it is likely that advertisers are concentrating their efforts and preparation on this day as well as the week leading up to it. But if you were curious to participate this 11th November, a scaled back strategy of sitewide offers such as BOGOF, free gift with purchase, or free delivery may be worth considering. These types of promotions will always be well received and can add real incremental value.


Ellie Corrigan, Account Manager 

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