Insight – New trends emerging as China gears up for Singles Day

10 November 2021

Singles Day (or 11.11) is the high point in China’s consumer calendar. New trends are emerging as brands, influencers and platforms compete for consumer attention and dollars.

For instance, brands are participating in marketing activities leading up to 11.11. They are also using virtual influencers and including sustainability messaging in their marketing initiatives.

This insight describes initiatives that can help brands succeed on Singles Day and beyond.

Prepare early for China’s 2 major shopping festivals

Singles Day is typically about the shopping frenzy on 11 November. In recent years, there has been over a month of activities building up to the event. A huge live streaming push on 20 October 2021 caused the Taobao portal to crash for 20 minutes. Taobao is Alibaba’s largest e-commerce portal.

With this in mind, brands must prepare early for China’s 2 big shopping festivals. These are Alibaba’s 6.18 Shopping Festival (18 June) and 11.11. For instance, British haircare brand ghd starts preparing for 11.11 as soon as 6.18 is over (Source: Alizila, British haircare brand ghd on how to prepare for China’s largest shopping festival 11-11, 6 October 2021).

Consider developing a year-long program of promotional work ahead of the 2 festivals.

Using virtual influencers

Using influencers was integral in this year’s Singles Day. The 2 biggest live streamers were Austin Li and Viya. They generated an estimated A$3.9 billion on the 20 October sales push (Source: South China Morning Post, Top Chinese live streamer sells nearly US$2 billion in goods in 12 hours in run up to Singles Day shopping festival, 25 October 2021).

China is seeing a shift to virtual influencers for various reasons. They include:

  • technological improvements
  • a cultural appreciation for all things cute and cartoony
  • brands’ increasing fear of being let down by celebrity scandals.

The market for virtual influencers is expected to reach A$1.3 billion in 2021 and drive an economy of A$22.4 billion (Source: iMedia, www.iimedia.cn/c1061/80769.html (Traditional Chinese), 3 September 2021).

Virtual influencers are a new concept for Australian exporters. Explore how you could use them for your market activities.

Make sustainability a focus in your marketing activities

Platforms and influencers have been reprimanded for not following Beijing’s wider directives in the past year. For instance, Alibaba was fined US$2.8 billion for breaking the anti-monopoly law. Many celebrities were also taken offline.

As a result, Beijing’s call for businesses to focus more on ‘common prosperity’ has been observed. This year’s Singles Day has a more organised focus on sustainability and social responsibility.

Brands have:

  • issued A$21 million in vouchers for products deemed ‘environmentally friendly’
  • donated portions of revenue to rural aid initiatives
  • increased messaging about recyclable materials.

These are some initiatives that Australian brands can consider.

About this insight

We commissioned this insight from China Skinny. China Skinny is a Shanghai-based market research consultancy.

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