Double 11 (D11), China’s e-commerce extravaganza, started simply as a day for single people to shop with coupons/discounts to please themselves and for retailers to give back to customers to build better customer loyalty. 12 years later, it’s totally transformed and constantly redefining the limits of the digital medium.
So, how exactly did the event evolve? What makes the 2021 shopping festival stand out from the previous editions? What are the key takeaways and recommendations for overseas brands aiming to enter the China market?
Double 11 was born in Nov. 11, 2009, a special day for single people because of the quadrupled “1”. 27 participating brands, including Lining, Lenovo, Philips, Jack & Jones, generated a total sales value of around RMB 50 million.
2015 saw the globalization of Double 11, officially changing name from Tmall Double 11 Shopping Festival to Tmall Double 11 Global Shopping Festival, emphasizing on globalization and omni-channel, adding interactive entertainment. Over 30,000 brands including more than 5,000 overseas ones participated. Their products were sold in over 200 countries and regions: a key step towards Alibaba’s strategic goal to “serve 2 billion global consumers”.
2016 marks a milestone in the global strategic development of Tmall Double 11 with the rapid development of cross-border e-commerce on the new global economic landscape. An increasing number of overseas brands participated in the shopping event with over 47 million consumers buying from them.
In 2017, Tmall Double 11 fully initiated online-to-offline, invited 140,000 brands and 1 million merchants worldwide and established 52 key shopping areas, 100,000 smart shops and 30,000 selected village shopping spots.
2018 saw an explosion of local Chinese brands in consumer goods, apparel, culture and entertainment, particularly appealing to the younger generation.
2019 brought alive the direct sales model, connecting suppliers and consumers, offering benefits to both. The Double 11 event also started to serve as an important window to detect general consumer market trends.
250,000 brands in total participated in Double 11 in 2020, of which 31,000 are overseas brands. Tmall’s 11-day Singles’ Day sales reached RMB 498.2 billion.
This year, Alibaba concluded the Double 11 festival on Nov. 12, which generated RMB 540.3 billion in *GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) during the 11-day campaign. A record of 290,000 brands participated in the festival this year, of which 65% are small and medium-sized businesses.
While historically the shopping event was only available on Nov. 11, pre-sales has recently become a crucial component of the festival. In 2021, pre-sales of the first sales window started on Oct. 20, allowing consumers to secure their orders and promotions by paying a deposit, with the balance to be paid on the official sales day.
Our key observations:
1. Important as the GMV used to be, it is no longer Alibaba’s sole focus in this Double 11. Today, it is the exclusive brand-consumer relationships and shopping experience during this one-month event that start to draw more attention.
2. KOL live-streaming sales during Double 11 2021 accounted for 40% of total store/brand live-streaming. 70% to 80% of the KOL live-streaming took place with 2 mega KOLs, Li Jiaqi and Viya.
“Double 11 has evolved from a discount bonanza to a retail transformation and brand loyalty accelerator. Our goal is to leverage the campaign as a branding opportunity to improve customer acquisition and brand equity for our brand partners.”
– Ariel Tang, VP Sales & Marketing
In the closing of this year’s D11, when our team is working day and night, we have below recommendations for international brands aiming to enter China’s retail landscape and to leverage on this unique retail festival:
1. See D11 as an annual platform to evaluate your brands’ year-round brand-building efforts, rather than a month to hit the sales target.
2. Remain optimistic in the face of the changing consumer behaviors in China, understanding that quality and beauty are increasingly valued by the modern Chinese consumers.
3. Invest in content creation although it might not bring big money in the short run. Thoughtfully designed content, especially with an omni-channel approach, adds value to your brand equity and helps your brand maintain its identity while gaining trust and love from Chinese consumers.
2021 Double 11 key official highlights:
1. Over 45% of consumers that made purchases were born in the ’90s and ’00s. The number of consumers born in ’00s increased by 25% compared with last year.
2. 500,000 products with official Green Product Certification from more than 2,000 merchants were featured in a dedicated eco-friendly vertical on Tmall.
3. Over 1,600 brands participated in the new membership challenge campaign on Tmall and attracted over 97 million new members.
4. More than 1.3 million new products were offered by over 29,000 overseas brands via Tmall Global, with 2,800 overseas brands joining for the first time.
5. From Nov. 1 to 10, 90 emerging brands remained as the top brand by GMV in their respective small categories for three consecutive years. 275 emerging brands saw a YOY growth of 200% in GMV for three consecutive years.
6. For the beauty industry, during Nov. 1 and 11, over 66 color cosmetics and personal care brands generated over RMB 100 million in GMV. The GMV generated by brands’ live-streaming has also reached a record height. In their own live-streaming studio, 115 beauty brands achieved a year-on-year growth of 200% in GMV, 17 brands generated over RMB 100 million and 70 brands generated over RMB 10 million in GMV.
*GMV for the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival is the total value of orders settled through Alipay on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces, Kaola, Lazada, AliExpress, and New Retail and consumer services platforms from Nov. 1 to Nov. 11, 2021.
Aventura is a leading DTC brand accelerator focused on Fashion & Accessories, Beauty, Wellness and Home categories. We take a 360º responsibility for building and operating brands in China – reducing costs, risks and time to market for our brand partners.
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About Aventura Group
Aventura Group is a digitally driven investment and development company focused on China’s rapidly evolving consumer and e-commerce markets.
Founded in 2011 by serial entrepreneurs with 50 years of combined experience from growing consumer businesses in China, Aventura Group has supported 100 brands to enter and grow in the market since then.
Through our subsidiaries Aventura, TicToc Ventures, Aurora Beauty and Headway B2B, we drive growth for brands across multiple high-growth categories. Together these growth platforms create a vibrant ecosystem for both brands and talents to thrive.
The group employs over 100 staff with operations based in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Stockholm.
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