In the world of e-commerce, one date looms large on the calendar, especially in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region—November 11th, known as Singles' Day. Originally a celebration for singles, it has transformed into a global shopping sensation that no brand can afford to ignore, particularly in China, where it all began. In this article, learn about the significance of Singles' Day as a way to grow your brand in the APAC region. We cover the recent trends, insights, and changing patterns of Singles’ Day and the retention and retargeting tactics that can set your brand up for success.
Singles' Day: From Humble Beginnings to Global Shopping Phenomenon
Singles' Day first gained global prominence in 2009 when Alibaba introduced it as a shopping event. Fueled by Alibaba's sophisticated platforms, it has grown exponentially over the years. Today, it stands as the world's largest annual shopping event, surpassing even the combined sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States.
Today, the reach of Singles' Day also extends far beyond China's borders. In the first two weeks of November 2021, over 900 million shoppers participated, generating a staggering $132.6 billion in sales. To put this into perspective: 180 million shoppers spent an estimated $35.2 billion during the five-day U.S. Thanksgiving–Black Friday weekend in 2022.
In fact, Alibaba outperforms the US-based ecommerce juggernaut, Amazon. In 2021, Alibaba recorded a gross merchandise value (GMV) of 84.5 billion U.S. dollars during the Singles' Day sales in China. This was nearly seven times more compared to the global sales value of Amazon's Prime Day. Moreover, Alibaba boasts a massive user base of 925 million mobile users, dwarfing Amazon's 300 million active customer accounts.
Shifting Tides: From Discounts to Retention
While annual sales continue to grow, there's been a shift in Singles' Day engagement. In a market brimming with sales platforms and promotions, APAC consumers now expect more than just discounts.
Customer loyalty is becoming a key growth strategy. To shift focus from quick sales to lasting relationships, brands are investing more in product quality, authenticity guarantees, and the overall customer experience (CX). Integration of physical retail spaces with e-commerce platforms, faster delivery, and streamlined after-sales support is also becoming a norm. For example, Alibaba has evolved its Singles' Day strategy in China to focus on loyalty programs that foster long-term value.
The Power of Membership and CX
To shift from discount-driven models to long-term profitability, many brands have begun to rely on Alibaba's e-commerce platforms, such as Taobao and Tmall.
In June 2022, over 124 million active Chinese consumers spent nearly $1,400 per capita on Alibaba's platforms, which went on to achieve a market-leading retention rate of 98%. In fact, more than 40 brands have witnessed a membership increase of over 10 million after joining Tmall. This includes Nike, which leverages the platform to reward its premium customers with shopping points and interactive games that use customers’ 3D avatars.
But Alibaba is not the only e-commerce platform driving value for brands and APAC customers on Single’s Day. During Single’s Day 2022, the social e-commerce platform Pinduoduo attracted approximately 576.2 million active shoppers that day, outpacing Taobao’s 527 million shoppers and overtaking Alibaba for the first time in history. When using platforms like Taobao, customers shop progressively more. In fact, over the past five years, the average consumer has expanded the number of product categories they buy on these platforms, from seven to 19.
The value of live streaming
With live streaming, Single’s Day has also become a way for brands to increase their engagement. In 2022, 120 million shoppers used the Taobao Live platform to sign up as brand-loyal members, who repurchase an average 20 times more than non-members.
Beyond a sales event, Singles' Day is also a valuable opportunity for brands to gain insights on their target audience, test products, and refine their offerings.
Single’s Day retargeting best practices
Now that we've explored the growing importance of Singles' Day in the APAC region and how brands are shifting their strategies towards customer retention, it's time to dive into some effective retargeting recommendations for this shopping holiday.
Harness the Power of Personalization
To stand out in the sea of Singles’ Day promotions, brands must prioritize personalization. Consider segmenting your audience based on their past interactions with your brand. Did they browse specific product categories? Abandon their shopping carts? Make purchases? Craft tailored retargeting messages that resonate with each segment. For instance, if a customer abandoned a "Party For One" bundle, send them a reminder with a special discount on that very bundle. As many shoppers on Singles’ Day are motivated by specific items and discounts (see graph below), segment and target high intent users with special promotions.
Localization is key as well. Ensure your retargeting ads are culturally relevant and in Chinese. Personalization extends beyond product recommendations; it's about making your audience feel seen and understood.
Leverage Chinese Social Media Platforms
In all marketing endeavors, it's essential to meet your audience where they are, and that often means venturing beyond the familiar territory of Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Instead, focus your retargeting efforts on Chinese platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and Duoyin (Chinese TikTok). Craft compelling content that aligns with the celebratory spirit of Singles' Day and use these platforms to reconnect with your audience.
Also, don't forget the power of livestreaming. As we mentioned, live streaming can significantly boost engagement and repurchase rates. Use these platforms to host live events, showcasing your products and enticing viewers with exclusive Singles' Day discounts and promotions.
Extend the Singles' Day Spirit Beyond China
While Singles' Day is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, its appeal has transcended borders. Even if you're not directly selling on Chinese platforms like Taobao or Tmall, you can still participate and celebrate in spirit. This can be a clever retargeting tactic, especially for international brands.
Mark November 11th on your content marketing calendar and design special sales offers or promotions for your audience, even if they're not in China. Align your products or services with the theme of empowerment and self-celebration. For instance, bundle products as a "Party For One" package or offer special solo-dining experiences at your restaurant.
Source: War Room
Use your usual marketing channels, such as social media, email campaigns, or video advertising, to spread your Singles' Day messaging.
Retargeting during Singles' Day is all about personalization, localization, and celebrating the spirit of empowerment. Whether you're targeting the Chinese market or celebrating in the spirit of the holiday, these strategies can help you make the most of this global shopping phenomenon.
- Loyalty Trumps Discounts: Brands are shifting from discounts to long-term loyalty strategies, emphasizing product quality, authenticity, and seamless CX.
- Live Streaming and Engagement: Brands can use livestreaming to boost engagement and offer exclusive Singles' Day promotions.
- Personalization is Crucial: Stand out by segmenting your audience based on past interactions and behaviors. Craft tailored retargeting messages and culturally relevant ads in Chinese for a personalized touch.
- Chinese Social Media Platforms: Focus your retargeting efforts on platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and Duoyin.
- Celebrate in Spirit Worldwide: Even if you're not selling on Chinese platforms, celebrate Singles' Day to connect with a global audience. Design special promotions aligned with the theme of self-celebration, and use your usual marketing channels to spread the message.