Countries Other Than China Set their Sights on Singles Day

Firoz PatelSingles Day started as a holiday in the 1990s in China that essentially served as an opportunity for single people to treat themselves to something nice. With the advent of e-commerce, however, the holiday has become one of the country’s highest traffic shopping days. Part of this is due to significant promotions from e-commerce titan Alibaba. Last year Alibaba earned three quarters of sales from that day. That is to say a reported $9.3 billion USD in sales. A Nielsen survey reports that the average expected amount to spend per person for the holiday is $277.76 USD. This number is based on a sample size of over one thousand internet users based in China.

While Singles Day not only rivals, but exceeds the numbers from Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in the US, another interesting trend of note is the changing demographics in terms of who the buyers are. In China, Singles Day captures the rising middle class and a younger generation that is flush with disposable income and developing a growing desire to spend.

Although Singles Day stems from a holiday first celebrated on Nanjing Campus back in the ‘90s, Alibaba is responsible for not only helping to spread the popularity of the holiday, but to brand it in a way that directly links the celebration to online shopping.

In many ways, Alibaba owns the holiday – and not just in a theoretical way. The Alibaba Group puts a lot of money into creating the advertising and content leading up to the holiday, and has built an infrastructure and system that caters directly to the demands of this day. But in an even more practical sense, in 2012, the Alibaba Group trademarked the term “双十一” (or “Double 11”). Although that is different from the term “Singles Day”, it is associated very intimately with the holiday. And in the fall of 2014, Alibaba threatened legal action against any media outlets that would enter into advertising deals from competitors that used this term.

Alibaba Although Singles Day has continued to grow rapidly over the past few years, this year international markets are clearly taking notice of the potential for this holiday, and Alibaba will celebrate Singles Day by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Although this is not a new holiday, this particular gesture suggests that other countries have really begun to take notice and that expansion of celebrating the holiday globally is likely on the horizon.  

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