Singles Day 2019

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Another Singles Day and another record for the Alibaba Group which, according to ZD Net “has amassed a record-high total gross merchandise volume of 268.4 billion yuan ($38.4 billion)” on 11/11/2019. To put this into context, and to see how far China’s consumer boom has come over the past 10 years, Alibaba’s first Singles’ Day event in 2009, a new initiative designed to boost retail sales during a traditionally quiet time of the year, generated $7.8 million in sales (which was regarded as a huge success at the time!).

Other mind-blowing statistics from Singles Day 2019 include:

  • This year’s Single’s Day beat the previous record of $30.8 billion which was set only last year (2018)
  • Sales hit US$1 billion after just 68 seconds, generated more than $18 billion in sales over the first two hours, and crossed the US$30 billion mark achieved last year at 4.31pm (local time)
  • Over 22,000 overseas brands from 78 different countries and regions participated in the event, with the amount of new overseas brands growing by 300% year on year. 

I’m hearing that despite the phenomenal success of Singles Day, particularly the huge volume of transactions conducted on Alibaba platforms, it’s not always translating into profits and a long term sustainable business model for the underlying brand owners, who are having to offer massive discounts and special offers to stay competitive and relevant during such a high profile event.

It’s a good reminder to stay focused on quality, value and scarcity when operating in China, and avoid being sucked into ‘the race to the bottom’ which you definitely don’t want to win! Nobody ever wins in China competing on price!

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