11/11 – The Online Shopping Day Going Global


Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash  

An insightful trend analysis on the rise of Singles Day in China, with a focus on the rise of social commerce from Havas CX’s Sebastien Houdousse, Chief Strategy Officer, BETC FullSix.

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Sebastien Houdousse
Chief Strategy Officer BETC FullSix

You may have been getting a lot of ads hitting your phone in the last few days offering you big discounts if only you’ll log on and buy this Singles Day.

Don’t be confused, they haven’t been stalking you on that dating app you downloaded. The truth is, 11/11 or Singles Day, is in fact, a major, annual e-commerce shopping event in China. 

Forget Black Friday or Prime Day, Singles Day is rapidly becoming the biggest event of its kind in the world. In 2020, Alibaba recorded $74.1 billion worth of transactions in this promotional period, while last year's Thanksgiving weekend in the United States (including Black Friday and Cyber Monday) generated just $22.1 billion.

Records will be broken this year. One top Chinese live streamer sold nearly $2 billion worth of products in just 12 hours in run up to Singles Day. Li Jiaqi orchestrated a marathon live stream on Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace where he sold diverse products from make-up to Airpods – smashing existing records for the festival.

And yet, beyond these numbers, 11/11 is also adapting to new expectations from consumers: Alibaba is promoting more responsible products this year than ever before (less packaging, less energy consuming products…) and also encouraging consumers to give the circular economy a try by “recommercing” (previously loved products that have been refurbished). 

This phenomenal performance raises a question: will this event, which combines commerce, entertainment, live shopping and influencer strategies, go on to conquer the world and become mainstream in all countries?

Our latest consumer research paints an interesting picture of the future. Conducted in September, our Prosumer study surveyed 3000 people in 6 countries. (Prosumers are a really important group to understand, as they represent the trend-setters and early adopters for future consumer behaviours). 

First of all, a majority of those Prosumers surveyed want more entertainment in their shopping experience and agree that fun will come from social media. Almost 6 in 10 (57%) agreed that “being able to shop directly on social media will make the experience more fun.” But, if e-commerce becomes social commerce, our relationship with influencers will have to change. It’s interesting to note that only 47% of Amerian Prosumers and 38% of French Prosumers say they “like to discover and buy products from the influencers they follow”; while 71% of Chinese Prosumers agree with this statement.

Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash 

We see here the big difference in Western countries where we’ve come to not trust influencers because they have become “sales monkeys”: 79% of Prosumers in the US, the UK and France “feel influencers on social media have become “sales machines” while only 56% of Chinese Prosumers agree.

So how can social commerce grow and thrive to the same degree in the West? And what can brands who are eyeing up this opportunity, learn from our research?

Well, influencers will have to become more accountable for the products they recommend. 84% of Prosumers worldwide say they “want influencers to be held responsible for the products/services they recommend”.

What if in the near future, you could not only follow influencers that are verified with the famous blue stamp, but also influencers whose responsibility has been checked and vetted by the community they have built? This could be a way to make social and live shopping thrive everywhere.

Prosumers also believe that e-commerce should become more sociable. 51% think “brands come make the experience more fun by enabling people to shop together” and 52% think the “future will be platforms that allow shopers to interact with one another”. A technological change that will need to be considered by all brands with an e-commerce strategy for key shopping festivals and beyond.

What’s more, the impact of Covid restrictions and lockdowns on e-tailers have been really significant - with greater expectations from consumers around the things that are basic costs of entry: free shipping & returns, fast delivery and easy access to customer ratings, as well as the range of ‘nice-to-haves’ becoming ‘must-haves’ very quickly. Prosumers say they now expect loyalty discounts (87%), recommendations based on past purchases (77%) and a variety of payment options (43%) as standard. And what’s more, nearly half of Prosumers (47%) say they “would like to be able to create inspiration boards on-site” as a way of enhancing the shopping experience.

It’s not enough to just deliver on the basics anymore. Brands, retailers and their agenices, will need to develop the technology and the experience they offer online if they want events like 11/11 and Singles Day to travel around the world.