Singles Day

Singles Day is a relatively new phenomenon in China, but it’s fast becoming one of its most prosperous. Last year, online sales for the day amounted to nearly $2.8 billion (1). That’s almost $2 million per minute, or over $30,000 per second. 

The day’s origin is still up for debate. According to the most popular theory, the holiday was invented as a way to meet girlfriends. Four college roommates threw a party on November 11th because it represented the most “single” day on the calendar – with four ones or 11/11. The gathering was successful and gained exposure throughout China. 

Traditionally, November used to be a slow month for Chinese retailers because it falls between two other big shopping seasons (a national holiday in early October and Christmas in December). Taobao was the first to risk marketing Singles Day in 2009. As the largest online marketplace in China, their B2C site (Tmall.com) dominates nearly 50% of all e-commerce revenue in China (2). 

t-mall page

Tmall's promotional page for Singles Day, 2013.

Taobao’s initial promotions and sales saw an enormous amount of success and gave Singles Day the momentum to become what it is – one of the largest online shopping days in the world. To get a sense of the significance of Singles Day, just look at the sales figures from the past four years. 


In 2009, total transactions were $14.6 million. The following year, they grew to $137 million. In 2011, that number soared to $761 million, likely in part because it represented a triple 11 (11/11/11). And then in 2012, transactions went as high as $2.8 billion (1).

By our research, the last number is unprecedented anywhere in the world. The likely runner up is Cyber Monday, which saw a total transaction value of $1.46 billion in 2012 (3). That’s still over $1 billion less than 11/11.  

China is in a unique position. Our country has a population of over 1.35 billion people. By the end of 2012, over 42% of those people were online (4). By 2017, eMarketer expects that 71% of all Chinese residents will go online to buy something. These trends are expected to push APAC into the world’s No. 1 spot for B2C e-commerce sales that same year (5).

I personally believe e-commerce is the future, and so our Shanghai office is particularly strong in this category. We’re helping major brands gain a foothold in this market before they are left behind. 

Reach out to our Shanghai office to learn more.

Sources: 
1. ifeng.com Sept, 2013
2. eMarketer, B2C E-commerce Revenue Share in China, by Site, Q2 2013
3. ComScore Nov 28, 2012
4. Chinese Internet Network Information Center “Statistical Report on Internet Development in China” Jan, 2013
5. eMarketer “Worldwide B2C E-commerce 2013 Forecast” Aug, 2013

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