The 11th of November is globally recognised as the Singles' Day, or Double 11. It is a Chinese unofficial holiday that celebrates the pride of being single. The date was chosen because the number 1 resembles a bare stick, which is Chinese Internet slang for an unmarried man who does not add 'branches' to the family tree.
But with time, it has become much more than just a day to celebrate, meet up and socialize at parties: in 2009 Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, turned it into a shopping festival with discounts over 50% and free shipping. Today, it became the largest physical retail and online shopping day in the world.
China Singles' Day coincides with what in the western hemisphere is known as Black Friday. However, it is less mass-market and focuses more on luxury products. Luxury brands use this occasion to present limited editions and new products, taking advantage of innovative ways of selling: from gamification to live-streaming sessions to pre-orders, to BNPL (buy now, pay later) up to flash sales lasting a few minutes.
On November 11, 2019, online shoppers spent 410 billion yuan ($60.4 billion), according to a report by Bain & Company. This year Alibaba said its total gross merchandise value (GMV) over the Singles Day event, which spanned 11-days, totaled 498.2 billion yuan or $74.1 billion.
The emerging consumers are the so-called HENRY, the 'High Earners Not Rich Yet'. These are young adults, from 25 to 43 years old, not yet rich but with strong spending power. This audience displays a strong appetite for luxury and high-quality Made in Europe products.
Generation Z is also driving sales; especially interested in high-end sneakers and streetwear, they are willing to spend several thousand dollars to grab an exclusive piece.
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