Entering its 14th year, how will we see Double 11 (aka Singles’ Day), the world’s largest online shopping festival, evolve? We expect to see a few key changes.
From Intense Promotion To Focusing On Content
For the first time, Alibaba’s Tmall shortened the promotion period by slightly delaying the presales start date to October 24 from 2021’s October 20, followed by two sales periods: October 31 to November 3, and November 10–11. On the other hand, JD.com introduced a new sales period, which they termed “Zhong Cao” (planting of grass) ahead of their regular presales period. Zhong Cao describes the effect of online content (such as the recommendations from influencers) that causes consumers to have the urge to buy a product, like planting a seed in their mind. Livestreaming sessions from brands and influencers are typical Zhong Cao content.
This year, both Tmall and JD.com have simplified their Double 11 promotions, preferring to focus on a more straightforward “spend RMB 300, get 50 off” (Tmall) or “spend RMB 299, get 50 off” (JD.com).
From Chasing High GMV To Increasing Customer Loyalty
Record-smashing gross merchandise volume (GMV) is the symbol of past Double 11 shopping festivals. Last year, Alibaba reported a GMV of 540.3 billion yuan (US$84.54 billion), and JD.com reported a GMV of 349.1 billion yuan (US$54.6 billion). The combined GMV of Double 11 2022 may surpass a trillion yuan, but chasing high GMV is no longer the focus. Instead, improving customer experience and loyalty is key. Alibaba is investing in service and logistics. The company has extended its lowest-price guarantee from the previous 15 days to 27 days, is offering free shipping for returns, and has launched a new feature that allows shoppers to place one order with the ability to ship to multiple addresses.
Both retailers and brands have learned the importance of loyal customers, particularly in major shopping events like Double 11. According to Alibaba, there are 42 brands on Tmall with over 10 million members and 600 brands with over 1 million members. In many cases, these loyal members contributed 40% of GMV. Alibaba is also providing exclusive offers for its own 88VIP loyalty program members. As of June 2022, the annual spending average of over 2 million members has reached 57,000 yuan (US$7,858).
From Celebrities To Virtual Influencers
Livestreaming is still hot, especially with celebrity hosts. On the first day of Double 11 presales, the top livestreaming commerce influencer Li Jiaqi generated 460 million views and a GMV of 21.5 billion yuan, nearly doubling his own record of 10.6 billion from last year’s Double 11 promotions. Some 291 products with prices of up to 10,000 yuan were almost sold out.
Livestreaming with virtual influencers is also trendy. Forrester predicts that 20% of B2C brands in China will use digital idols to improve virtual experiences in 2023. More B2C brands are leveraging virtual influencers to attract digital-savvy and novelty-seeking young consumers, as they cost much less than human talent while also reducing exposure to risks like celebrity scandals. Alibaba’s virtual influencers Ayayi and Noah have been collaborating with brands this Double 11. Chinese consumer electronics company Haier chose to work with Ayayi, while American fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger has worked with Noah on its livestreaming session.