Nike shoes were top sellers on Singles' Day last year. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Nike shoes were top sellers on Singles' Day last year. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Singles Day shopping phenomenon goes global

China's Alibaba is now no longer alone in the 'dating market' as newcomers jump on the bandwagon of the highly profitable online sales campaign

November 10, 2016 6:06 PM (UTC+8)

Alibaba Group is expecting to surpass the record US$14.3 billion in sales in 2015 from China’s Singles Day, which has now crossed borders both far and wide. But what is more interesting are the copycats jumping on the bandwagon.

These copycats have sprung up in places like Taiwan and Japan, capitalizing on Alibaba’s phenomenal online shopping campaign since it launched with just 27 merchants in 2009.

Seven years later, 11.11 has become an international event for Alibaba, which has billed it as a Global Shopping Festival with participating merchants in the tens of thousands, buyers in the millions, and total sales in the billions.

The group is hosting a countdown gala in Shenzhen, with stars such as retired basketball star Kobe Bryant and popular band OneRepublic ready to kick off sales at midnight on Thursday.

But similar online sales campaigns are spreading elsewhere: Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan.

Alibaba Group Holding executive vice-chairman Joe Tsai, retired NBA player Kobe Bryant, former captain of England's soccer team David Beckham, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma, and Alibaba Group Holding chief marketing officer Chris Tung during a rehearsal for Alibaba's 11.11 Singles' Day shopping festival gala, in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, November 9, 2016. Photo: China Daily/via Reuters
Who is the happiest shopper? Photo: China Daily/via Reuters

In Singapore, shoppers are keenly waiting for the clock to strike midnight to click away and secure their purchases, with some people having already saved items in their online shopping cart.

“I’m quite excited. I have just added items into my cart and waiting to go to the checkout at midnight. I’m also waiting for good deals. Online shops like Love Bonito and Lazada (in Singapore) are also jumping on the Singles Day bandwagon,” Cheryl Wong said in Singapore.

In Taiwan, popular e-commerce site Momo is the most popular among two sites also launching a Singles Day campaign, which is longer than 24 hours. The other is Rakuten Global Market, which has already launched on the island and in Japan.

Rakuten’s Singles Day Campaign in Japan started on Thursday, with its sale lasting until November 24.

In Australia, Click Frenzy will hold its own online sales day on Nov. 15, which this year runs for 24 hours, from 7pm local time.

Click Frenzy burst onto the scene in Nov. 2012 as Australia’s first landmark national online sales event, it said on its website.

Every year since, on the third Tuesday in November, Click Frenzy becomes the focal point of retail in Australia – a 24-hour online shopping mega-sale that captures national attention. Its site says its campaign was modelled on the successful Cyber Monday in the US.

Last year it is estimated the event generated more than US$90 million in sales, with more than five million visits to retailers, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Singles Day was invented by students in the 1990s, according to the Communist Party-owned People’s Daily, which has said the date (11-11) is reminiscent of the Chinese phrase – “bare branches for bachelors and spinsters.”

Alibaba’s Tmall site began marketing the day as its biggest sales event in 2009, rivals jumped on board, and the day turned from an opportunity to seek out a partner – or celebrate singledom – into an online shopping bonanza.

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Yes, the media too…

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