Singles' Day alters the global retail calendar, even here

Singles' Day alters the global retail calendar, even here

Move aside Christmas turnover, Singles’ Day is the world’s largest shopping holiday – by far. Alibaba generated a 22 billion euro turnover in a single day and even took advantage of the day. Are we heading to a new retail calendar?

Larger than Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day together

A holiday for yourself, that is Singles’ Day. Born in China as a counter to Valentine’s Day; born in a country where the one-child policy has led to a huge surplus of single men; that has resulted in holiday that entirely fits the times in which we live. It is a day where consumers shop online for themselves. It will only be a matter of time before Singles’ Day also becomes important here, considering the rise in bachelors in the West and millennials’ insistence on taking care of themselves.


Alibaba generated about as much as it did in the entire month of September in just two minutes of Singles’ Day (about 2 billion dollars). Amazon and the entire Anglo-Saxon retail world can only watch on in awe. Alibaba offered millions of products, from 140,000 retailers and brands, ranging from Apple, Maserati, P&G and Target to the smaller local suppliers, even in food.


The numbers easily blow Black Friday (and its hastily-added digital brother Cyber Monday) out of the water, despite the fact that American retailers have been trying to export these days for many years. These attempts can only be described as adorable, because analyst GlobalData calculated that the entire week’s turnover would reach 10 billion dollars (+ 3.8 %). Alibaba’s turnover grew 39 % compared to last year and Chinese rival’s revenue on Singles’ Day itself was 16 billion euro alone. Singles’ Day is also eighteen times larger than Amazon Prime Day, according to marketing strategist Igor Beuker.


Ideal to position European spoil products and Media Markt also joined the Double 11 Shopping Festival, which is Singles’ Day’s other name. Ici Paris XL, Hunkemöller and H&M also participated. For, it was instantly its “busiest Saturday of the year” and it also exceeded its own turnover forecast. Nevertheless, Black Friday is still more important for at this point. Tens of thousands products were sold on Singles’ Day, mainly “gifts to spoil oneself”. Perfume and care products were the top sellers. “Considering the social development, Singles’ Day will gain importance over here as well, not in the least because of stores and web shops’ special offers. Put yourself first instead of someone else, whether you are single or not”, marketing professor Cor Molenaar forecasts.


Singles’ Day also offers Belgian and Dutch (web) shops an opportunity, especially seeing how Belgians are in favour of an opportunity to spoil themselves. Benelux manufacturers could use the day to present themselves to Chinese consumers as a luxury (and therefore spoil) brand. European products are generally already associated with luxury in China.


Non-stop spectacle at Jack Ma’s court

It is important to remember that Singles' Day is more than another discount day. In China, it is a non-stop spectacle for the full 24 hours. Only last year, Victoria and David Beckham flew over to count down with Jack Ma himself. For this year’s edition, Nicole Kidman and Pharrell Williams (and an endless list of movie and music celebrities) were present. The entire show can be seen on television, on the radio and internet. 


Alibaba boss Jack Ma embraced Singles' Day early on and now uses it to spread his strategy and vision. As a Sun King, he directs the entire day of festivities. He even played a role in one of the movies that premiered in the countdown show. It was a documentary about Tai Chi, a sport he also practicions. Singles’ Day is the Chinese retail king’s own celebration and soon we will all celebrate with (or bow to) him.