When Singles Day started almost ten years ago, Alibaba, then fledgling e-commerce brand, did not really believe they were changing the face of trade in their nation.
Their own reports made their goals much more modest – they were just looking for a kind of marketing event to draw attention to Tmall, the new online marketplace. In China, Mobile almost never heard of it, and online shopping was little more than a blow to the radar. It was not an important part of public consciousness.
However, the company had the idea that perhaps a kind of trading event, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, was just the thing to raise awareness of – specifically targeting Chinese consumers.
What led them to Singles Day – a "holiday" in China that was more than a joke among college students when Alibaba's current CEO, Daniel Zhang, stumbled across the concept in 2009. The Singles Day was an annual celebration on November 11th without a romantic partner.
It was, as Zhang realized, perfect for shopping.
"If people are still single, we can offer them a good choice and shop online. Then they will not feel alone, "Zhang said about the original idea of Singles Day.
And although the first breakthrough was small – only 27 brands participated in the original celebration of the event – Alibaba knew they were looking for something that would grow.
Really big, as it turns out.
In fact, so great that even the Creator says he never imagined the size and scope that the Singles Day would eventually build. His greatest hope was to connect a slightly wider circle of Chinese consumers with the concept of e-commerce.
"I never expected that we could actually turn this day into a commercial day … for the entire society," Zhang told CNBC. "I think today it's more of a phenomenon."
A phenomenon that has grown bigger each year, but may be looking for some more choppy water in 2018.
A short history of Singles Day
The first slogan of Singles Day was as follows:
"Even if you do not have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, you can at least shop like crazy."
(就算 没有 男女, 至少 我们 可以 疯狂 购物).
We are told that it is catchier in Chinese.
Alibaba has reportedly emphasized by emphasizing that singleity is a status celebrated with a treat rather than something to be ashamed of, actually creating a kind of party feeling that only a handful of Chinese consumers realize ten years ago.
The solemn atmosphere received a 50 percent discount on the handful of participating dealers who initially had to be involved in the event. Those who remained on board (many had dropped out of the market at the last minute after Alibaba) were ultimately glad they did, as some said they had a three-month turnover in a single day.
A star was born.
By 2010, Singles Day had grown into an annual event of $ 135 million, which had some logistical problems with demand. Some customers complained about the weeks and months of waiting for the ordered goods during the holidays – and there was speculation that the event would collapse under its own weight.
After much infrastructure development and new construction, especially in the field of logistics and payment, the Singles Day was back on track – and 2012, he was officially more revenue than the Cyber Monday. Until 2014, it was bigger than Cyber Monday and Black Friday.
At that time, it was also increasingly becoming a mobile shopping event fueling the upcoming rise of Alipay.
By 2015, Singles Day was bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday together – and the celebration had gone from online to television, national broadcasting and the worldwide live stream.
These events have become more sophisticated in recent years in terms of the spectacle: Daniel Craig, Kobe Bryant, David and Victoria Beckham, Pharrell Williams and Nicole Kidman are a very short list of celebrity hosts hosted for the event. These live broadcasts also included luxury car contests and live fashion shows, which allowed viewers to buy looks that stroll live on Tmall's runway in real time.
Despite what has changed on Singles Day (which officially became known as 11.11 in the last five years in Alibaba's Event Marketing 11.11), one thing remains consistent: It always grows in terms of sales.
By 2017, Singles Day had raised $ 25.3 billion, with 90 percent of its revenue on mobile phones.
However, with celebrations starting in the next few hours, this November 11 celebration will take place against a backdrop that makes another year of revenue growth far from a safe decision for Alibaba this time around.
The challenges of 2018
According to most market observers, Alibaba has three major problems for Singles Day 2018: the fact that the holiday is now a universal retail event nationwide, the fact that there are concerns about the cooling of the Chinese economy, and the possibility of a trade war The United States.
The competition, most of them are likely to incur costs that Alibaba has successfully managed for at least five years.
The cooling economy in China is also cause for concern. Alibaba President Michael Evans told Bloomberg earlier this week that there is "some uncertainty about what's going to happen". He noted that demand for large items such as washers, televisions and automobiles was weaker in recent months. However, he added that cosmetics, food, fashion and apparel continue to grow strongly, and the platform expects sales to increase by about one billion customers on Singles Day platforms.
As for the trade war, it is safe to say that the looming possibility of a trade disruption does not please Alibaba. Outgoing founder and chairman Jack Ma recently called it "the dumbest thing in the world". Evans, on the other hand, found that they are not too worried from Singles Day's point of view.
"11/11 is not an event based solely on a single market," he told Bloomberg TV in an interview on Friday. "We will be working with more than 200 countries and regions in this huge event, and we do not expect any area other than China to have a major impact, of course."
Chinese consumers – and increasingly in countries such as Russia and the Philippines – are prepared to rarely go on vacation, according to local news accounts, and have been exchanging purchasing strategies for a few weeks.
According to Alibaba, Singles Day this year is much more than just online sales – it's about presenting the entire ecosystem as it says. This means that this year's savings, offers and offers will extend to Alibaba's newly opened physical retail stores and their newly acquired startup Ele.me, through a series of augmented reality (AR) services. ) Gaming experiences that consumers should be attracted to (mobile in mobile) hand) through a range of physical environments with 11.11 related retail offerings – and even in the newly launched food and convenience stores.
"Singles Day is now a stage for Alibaba to showcase all its platforms," said Zhang, chairman of the board, at a press conference ahead of the event.
And it looks like Alibaba is ready to show this year and expects it to be a big day.
Employees are reported to be distributing more than 20,000 blankets for workers who are staying at their desks this weekend to keep up with demand as orders flow across the various channels.
We will let you know on Monday how everything has developed.