Forget Black Friday. In China, Singles’ Day is the biggest shopping event of the year.
The one-day shopping extravaganza is celebrated on 11/11 and began back in 2009 when Alibaba launched its Singles’ Day Festival. But the tradition dates back to the 1990s, when a group of students wanted to celebrate being single, creating a reverse Valentine’s Day.
Last year, Alibaba racked up more than $30.8 billion in the 24-hour shopping event, up from the $25.3 billion record set in 2017. And other brands have had major success stories with the event, too, piggybacking off of the success Alibaba has had to drive e-commerce sales.
Indeed, Apple and Chinese rival Xiaomi exceeded 100 million yuan (US$14 million) in sales in the first thirty minutes of last year’s Singles’ Day. Soon after, sports brands Nike, Uniqlo, and Adidas topped the 100 million mark, with more than 200 brands and businesses joining the “100 million yuan club” before the event was through, demonstrating its immense power.
As a UK business, tapping into the Singles’ Day craze is a great way to establish yourself in the country and generate impressive sales. Below, we’ve put together some of the ways you can make the most of this shopping event to ensure your clear your e-commerce shelves…
Preparation is key
Though Singles’ Day is a one-day shopping event, consumers often research into the brands and products they want to buy and make lists to search for on 11/11. In the weeks leading up to 11/111, you should make sure that your business has a positive and sparkling reputation.
Analyse your reviews, mentions on social media, the news, and search engines, and try to fix or remove any negative comments to ensure potential customers only see the benefits of buying from you.
You might decide to put out a few new press releases, pay for coverage in a specialist magazine or news outlet, or run a social media campaign to build awareness.
If you’ve yet to build a reputation for your business at all, then you’re going to struggle to sell in volume on Singles’ Day, but you can still attract some sales by starting to build an online presence.
Work with influencers, pay for ads and go all-out to impress your target market.
Focus on product descriptions
Another pre-11/11 marketing technique to employ is product description optimisation.
If you have ever purchased something from a Chinese e-commerce website, you’ll know that product descriptions tend to be super long.
Why? Consumers are naturally distrustful and seek as much detail about products as they can before buying to make informed decisions.
Because of this, most brands answer every question they can about their products in their descriptions, increasing the chances of a sale and conversions.
What’s more, a long product description is great for SEO - the more keywords you include, the more times your products will appear on search pages of third-party e-commerce marketplaces like Alibaba and TMall.
Promote your deals in advance
One increasingly popular trend in the world of e-commerce is to preview and promote deals and special offers for Double 11 in advance.
Creating a graphic for social media and your website to show off the savings consumers can expect on Singles’ Day is a great way to build hype and ensure people check out your store when the shopping event arrives.
According to Nielsen China, this is one of the most effective methods of promoting Double 11 sales, and because it’s now common practice, it would be wise to follow tradition and do the same, otherwise potential and existing customers might think you’re not going to participate.
Creating a sense of occasion and urgency is a brilliant way to drive sales, but you should be cautious of offering too high a discount or teasing your discounts too early.
If a visitor knows they can save 50% if they wait two weeks, they might be put off buying from you, and then forget about your brand when the excitement of Singles’ Day ensues.
Whilst some brands have extended their Singles’ Day sales to the week of 11/11, others have taken a different approach and allow consumers to pre-order merchandise ahead of the shopping event.
T-Mall, for example, launched its Singles’ Day pre-ordering in Mid-October last year, allowing consumers almost three weeks to buy discounted products.
You can further incentivise pre-orders by offering further discounts to customers or adding timers or stock levels to your website to increase the sense of urgency.
If consumers know they could miss out on a brilliant deal, they’ll be more likely to hit “Buy” there and then.
Why offer a pre-ordering service on your e-commerce store?
It not only allows you to capture the attention of new customers, lock in early sales and build excitement, but it gives you the chance to forecast potential sales on Singles’ Day and replenish stock if necessary.
Another common Singles’ Day tactic is to hand out coupons.
Some brands post coupons offering a small discount on social media ahead of 11/11, allowing potential customers to save their unique codes to their phones to redeem on the day of the event, whilst others pay for advertising in printed and digital media with QR codes offering a discount to those who sign-up to a WeChat Mini Program or a website scheme.
One interesting trend in Chinese e-commerce is selling coupons to consumers to use at a later date, once the excitement of Singles’ Day has settled.
You might sell a 20% off coupon for one yuan (11p), a price consumers cannot say no to.
And because they’ve had to pay for that coupon rather than find it for free, they’re more likely to use it on a future (full-price) purchase and become a loyal, regular customer to your store.
Use social media
Social media is king in China, especially if you’re a UK brand trying to establish yourself in the market.
Brands use networks in different ways to promote their products, drive sales and build awareness, and the majority double down on their posts during the Double 11 season to keep their products in consumers’ minds and drive traffic to their e-commerce websites.
As well as ramping up your posts and creating engaging, relevant, and useful content for your customers, consider running a promotion that rewards customers for interacting with you on social media.
You could give out vouchers for everyone who logs into your WeChat Mini Program or follows you on Weibo, for example, incentivising your growth and increasing the likelihood of new customers during China’s biggest annual shopping day.
Outside of freebies, consider leveraging the power of key opinion leaders to increase your brand’s exposure and trust, and don’t forget about paid social media advertising to boost your audience and put your products in front of more of your target customers.
What’s more, you can piggyback off of the Singles’ Day excitement and trends with original videos on how to save money, where to go for the best deals, and what you need to buy.
Launch new products
If you already have an established audience in China, you may want to consider launching a new or exclusive product for Double 11 to generate hype and celebrate the occasion in style.
Teasing a new product launch months in advance and offering Double 11 shoppers first dibs is a brilliant way to shift stock.
Dyson, for example, launched its AirWrap product during last year’s Singles’ Day and sold more than 1,500 units within the first three minutes of the event.
Indeed, the company’s new hairstyler was promoted for months using WeChat influencers, with Camelia attracting more than 100,000 views and 15,000 likes to her WeChat post alone, with Dyson building a campaign around the theme of “will or won’t your man buy it for you?”.
There’s no denying that you need to pay attention to Singles’ Day this year, but knowing how to make an impact - particularly when so many other brands are screaming and shouting - can be tough. Follow the above techniques to increase brand awareness and sales, and consider enlisting the help of the Chinese digital marketing experts here at Zudu China.