As the dust has settled on China’s annual Double 11 shopping festival, YASO takes a quick dive into some of the key trends and takeaways from the festivities.
Singles' Day, otherwise known as "Double 11”, was originally a celebration for those without romantic partners. It now draws in millions of shoppers worldwide, evolving into a retail phenomenon, the largest in the world. Double 11 provides consumers brands with an unparalleled platform to showcase their products to a large and highly engaged audience.
In the run-up to this year’s event, traditional ecommerce platforms such as Alibaba and JD.com, announced a plethora of discounts and large-scale subsidies. This low-price strategy was adopted to attract reluctant consumers amidst weakened consumer confidence in China post-Covid restrictions.
Despite the relatively gloomier economic outlook in China (due largely to youth unemployment, a housing crisis, deflation pressures, among other issues), major platforms reported an increase in numbers across the board. This was a testament to consumer resilience in the country.
The top platforms withheld exact revenue figures, though they acknowledged that GMV, orders and merchants grew year-on-year. In the 20 days leading up to November 11, the cumulative hours of ecommerce livestream rooms hit 58.3 million hours, surpassing the 38.2 million hour mark from last year.
Meanwhile, China's State Post Bureau announced that that the number of packages handled in the first 11 days of November totalled 5.3 billion, up 23% from last year. On November 11, postal companies handled a total of 639 million packages, a 16% increase on last year.
As for international brands, skincare and perfumes are categories where international brands maintain a competitive edge. Although the No. 1 spot in the skincare category was secured by Chinese C-beauty brand, Proya, more than 80% of the top 20 were foreign beauty brands. In the perfume category, this number was more than 90%, respectively.
Competition among different platforms has grown more intense this year, particularly with social commerce platform, RED joining the festivities for the first time.
Here are how some of the individual platforms performed during the festival:
Tmall: On Alibaba's Tmall platform, 38,000 brands saw their transaction figures grow by over 100% year on year. A total of 402 bands (243 Chinese) achieved over 100 million RMB ($13.7 million) in sales.
On October 31, after just one hour, 155 brands including Apple, Haier, L’Oréal, and Nike exceeded $13.7 million in sales.
JD.com: JD has stated that its transaction volume, order volume and user engagement reached all-time highs, calling this year’s shopping festival another “record-breaking” event.
Over 60 brands surpassed $137 million in sales, while nearly 20,000 brands reported transaction volumes three times greater than the previous year. More than 400 brands exceeded $13.7 million in earnings.
RED: Making its official Double 11 debut, RED’s sales numbers during the period increased 380% times year-on-year, while its livestream broadcast GMV grew by 420%.
In contrast to traditional e-commerce platforms, RED incubates users and live-streamers through a highly evolved set of vertically-integrated tools and strategies. These generate innovative content-driven and community-amplified forms of shopping. During the festival, this model led to higher average order values without such a heavy reliance on discounts.
Douyin: China’s version of TikTok continues to experience rapid online retail growth. During the Double 11 festival, Douyin Mall’s GMV increased by 119% year-on-year, whilst the number of merchants present on the platform grew by 91%. Meanwhile, the number of consumers on the platform increased by 111%.
Within the beauty and personal care category, the platform achieved sales volumes exceeding $2.9 billion, representing growth of 39%. The top 10 beauty product threshold on Douyin climbed to 300 million RMB ($41 million), a significant rise from last year's 200 million RMB threshold. New beauty and lifestyle content also raised consumer interest in other categories such as fake eyelashes and dental floss, whose sales respectively increased by 162% and 155%.
To summarise, the festival has presented both challenges and opportunities for retailers and brands trying to navigate the changing landscape of retail in China.
The results of Double 11 have historically played a central role in determining Q4 revenue growth in China. They are also usually a good indicator of general Chinese consumer sentiment. This year’s festival has come amidst a marked slowdown in China’s economy. With Alibaba and JD.com opting not to release their full sales figures, it is hard to paint a complete picture of just how well the festival went.
Despite this, both major ecommerce platforms stated that they recorded positive sales growth, a trend which is reflected in strong individual brand sales, higher postal deliveries and greater time spent on influencer live-streaming. China’s 2023 Singles' Day also showcased a significant shift in consumer behaviour, emphasising the importance of adapting to evolving market dynamics. The notable shift being was towards social commerce, with platforms such as RED and Douyin making significant inroads this year.