From the rise of Chinese brands to metaverse and virtual reality promotions, these are the major trends from the 2022 Singles’ Day shopping festival
Singles’ Day (aka Double 11 or 11.11) has wrapped up another year of sales. The festival – always a focal point for consumer brands and analysts alike – was under increased scrutiny this year in the face of troubled economic waters. Read on to find out what happened at the world’s biggest shopping festival this year.
Alibaba conceals sales figures for the first time
For the first time since Singles’ Day started in 2009, Alibaba did not disclose the gross merchandise value (GMV) made from the event, saying only that sales were in line with 2021 “despite economic and Covid-related headwinds”. JD also didn’t publish any sales data.
This is, of course, being read by many as a sign that sales are way below expectations. But according to digital retail analysts Syntun, the GMV of traditional e-commerce platforms like Taobao between 31 October and 11 November was RMB 934 billion. With live streaming e-commerce added in, this figure broke RMB 1 trillion.
Any drop in Singles’ Day sales will naturally attract a lot of attention, but the number of products being sold is still astronomical. Furthermore, for the past few years, many consumer analysts have been recommending that brands switch the focus of their Singles’ Day efforts from GMV to customer loyalty and customer acquisition.
Chinese brands increase in popularity
More than half of the top 100 brands (ranked by sales) during the first few hours of Singles’ Day this year were Chinese brands according to Xinhua. Top-selling Chinese brands included down jacket brand Bosideng and Nike-challenger Anta. However, foreign brands do still perform well in categories where product safety or quality of materials is a concern, such as skincare, pet food and childcare-related appliances.
Chinese brands have been experiencing a surge of popularity in recent years, a trend known as ‘guochao’ (literally ‘national wave’), driven by both an increasing nationalist sentiment and a significant increase in quality. Traditional Chinese handicrafts or products that incorporate Chinese design elements are also surging in popularity, with JD reporting that sales of traditional cloth shoes and embroidered shoes were up 400%.
Niches become mainstream
The most popular product categories during Singles’ Day are still beauty and household appliances. However, niche categories such as glamping and skateboarding have seen massive growth driven in part by Chinese consumers looking for activities to replace the overseas travel opportunities lost to Covid. According to Alibaba, the GMV of camping and fishing products sold on Tmall within the first hour of Singles Day doubled compared to 2021.
Technology-enabled solutions and sustainability are top of mind
Even the metaverse got involved in Singles’ Day this year, with digital influencers helping to promote products from all manner of brands. Tmall Luxury Pavilion, a luxury shopping platform home to brands like Burberry, even launched its own virtual influencer, Timo, to promote luxury brands. Tmall also created a virtual shopping mall where users could try a wide range of products on a virtual avatar. Brands should consider exploring how to incorporate these digital innovations into their marketing to stay top of mind, especially among young Chinese consumers.
Sustainability has also become a watchword for Singles’ Day, with major platforms launching initiatives to cut down on carbon emissions and packaging waste. For example, Tmall partnered with major brands like Proctor & Gamble to reward consumers with free reusable shopping bags made from recycled plastic bottles when they bought products with low carbon labels.