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Why there is more to achieving sales milestones on Singles’ Day | Sponsored Content

The 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, also known as “Singles’ Day,” is China’s version of Black Friday and Cyber Monday on steroids. It routinely racks up billions of sales, but the vitality of the world’s biggest shopping event is being called into question amid the country’s recent economic challenges: Recovery of retail sales has remained lukewarm and the macro-level sentiment is still soft.

Despite a challenging backdrop, Singles’ Day remains important for merchants and brands. This year, 290,000 brands from all around the world will take part in the November 11 extravaganza, on par with last year's participation. Looking past its current doldrums, China is still one of the most attractive retail markets in the world, and going forward, consumption will take an increasing role in driving its economy. We forecast retail sales growth for the full year to reach 4.0%, and will increase to 5.7% in 2023. With a population of over 1.4 billion and hundreds of millions projected to join the middle class in the coming years, China’s retail sector undoubtedly has a much longer runway for growth—one that could make it the biggest retail market within the next decade or so.

Brands that want to stand out this shopping season should look beyond short-term gross merchandise value (GMV) and focus on building sustainable customer loyalty—with the one-two punch of ecommerce giant Alibaba’s various membership programs and engagement tools like livestreaming. At the end of the day, courting fans with spending power will translate into sales numbers in the long run.

Alibaba is the prime platform for Singles’ Day. The company continues to top the charts in sales and is the top livestreaming commerce destination for consumers at this year’s event, based on results from an October survey by management consulting firm AlixPartners. Alibaba is betting that its ecosystem-wide 88VIP loyalty program and brand-operated membership programs will be the key to unlocking a fruitful Singles’ Day for retailers. Participating brands will benefit from:

  • Access to the program’s 25 million high-spending members (as of June 2022) who buy an annual average of around $7,800 worth of products across Alibaba’s platforms
  • Launching brand-exclusive coupons and gifts to 88VIP members
  • Leveraging perks and privileges to reach consumers, such as events and one-on-one customer service, from across Alibaba’s vast ecosystem

Singles’ Day offerings might prove too enticing. According to the same AlixPartners survey, adult consumers in China plan to increase their spending this Singles’ Day in 9 out of 11 product categories. Novel products can be one strategic way to attract consumers without heavy discounts. More than 200 luxury brands are using this Singles’ Day as a product launchpad, debuting 100,000 new products on Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion.

It would not be Singles’ Day without a dose of avant-garde shopping experiences from Alibaba. Here is a glimpse of the innovations that shoppers will see during this year’s festivities:

  • Virtual influencers” will be peddling products on livestreaming sessions. The audience will also be able to browse products simultaneously using augmented reality technology. More than 30 luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Prada, have worked with Alibaba’s virtual idols Ayayi and Noah to launch marketing campaigns.
  • Tmall Global teamed up with Simon and Shop Premium Outlets to bring the New York-based Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets to Chinese consumers via livestreaming. A livestreaming shopping tour on November 4 garnered over 1.3 million views.
  • Taobao’s “elderly mode”—first released a year ago—will get an update, which offers additional human-based customer services (e.g., pharmacist consultations) to senior consumers.
  • The launch of the metaverse-like digital space The City of Rhythm by Maybelline is accessible through livestreams and its flagship channel on Tmall, where shoppers can virtually try on cosmetics.
  • Green products sold on Alibaba’s platforms will become more easily identifiable with improved labeling, allowing shoppers to be better informed about the environmental impact of their purchases.

In the past decade that I have followed Singles’ Day, I have seen the festival evolve, from a one-day sale to an entire season. This year’s iteration to pivot from GMV to consumer engagement has been a long time coming, and ultimately, it is instrumental for brands to rethink and test their strategies during the world’s largest shopping festival.

This article was sponsored by Alibaba.