Double 11 (双十一), the equivalent to “Black Friday” in the United States, is the largest e-commerce shopping festival in China. It was first organized in 2009 by Chinese technology giant Alibaba Group (阿里巴巴) to celebrate “Single’s Day”, and other e-commerce brands like Pinduoduo (平多多) and JD.com (京东) have followed suit over the years. Brands made a significant portion of their annual turnover within a few days, while consumers bought products from all kinds of categories at huge discounts. However, Double 11 in 2022 was different from previous years. Platforms have created less razzle-dazzle, considering the government’s ‘Common Prosperity’ policy and the changing habit of Chinese consumption.
Although e-commerce platforms stayed more low-key, Double 11 remains strong
Unlike previous years, leading e-commerce platforms didn’t announce their GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) of Double 11 in 2022. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it did not go well. According to Tmall (天猫), over 290,000 brands from over 90 countries and regions participated. Their GMV is about the same as last year’s, which was USD 84.54 billion. In the first four hours of the second checkout window, which began at 8 pm on October 31st, over 5,600 brands experienced doubled growth or more in their members-generated GMVs compared to 2021. Similarly, JD.com announced that they have surpassed the average industry growth rate and hit a new transaction volume record, above its 2021’s value of USD $54.6 billion.
Although the e-commerce platforms didn’t disclose their results, big data monitoring company Syntun said that the total GMV of all traditional e-commerce platforms and livestreaming e-commerce platforms was around USD 157 billion (or 1,115.4 billion RMB).
Double 11 is getting an upgrade as consumer habits change
Early Double 11 festivals had focused heavily on achieving the highest GMV. However, the one held in 2022 has shown otherwise. While the reason is unknown, the GMV and quantity were not as important as no exact stats were shared by the leading e-commerce platforms. What is rather becoming more important is the quality of the experiences and products.
Consumers demand “quality experience and products”
Consumer purchasing decisions in Double Eleven in 2022 show that people are prioritizing quality over quantity. In other words, they’re looking for products that bring long-term returns such as those in the health, wellness, and education categories.
In addition to high-quality products, consumers want high-quality experiences. To increase customer engagement and personalized experiences, e-commerce platforms have enhanced their features and services. Leading player Tmall, for example, increased the limit of shopping cart items from 120 in 2021 to 300 in 2022. Its development of the “88 membership” loyalty program, launched in 2017, has also contributed to the 50% of the total sales of more than 2,700 businesses on Double 11 in 2022.
Growth of outdoor sports, pet supplies, collectible toys, and jewelry
According to Tmall (天猫), there are four major growing categories: outdoor sports, pet supplies, collectible toys, and jewelry. Under those four categories, the sales of 385 brands were worth over USD 14 million (or 100 million RMB).
During the Covid-19 pandemic, outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and skiing have become popular. On Double 11, during the first hour on Tmall, the pre-sale quantity of running garments increased by 45.2%, camping equipment by 115%, and ski items by 61.9%. Among jewelry, gold and co-branded products with IPs were popular. The gold sales increased by over 30% on the first day of the pre-sale compared to 2021.
An outstanding luxury experience with new products releases and technologies
As the luxury market in China is expected to be the world’s largest by 2025, luxury brands used Double 11 as a channel to provide better experiences and products. Rather than selling products at a discount, they were focused on providing an exclusive luxury experience and releasing new products. Tmall launched over 100,000 new luxury products, including Saint Laurent’s Kate double-sided chain bag.
JD.com leveraged new technologies such as virtual/augmented reality and digital collectibles in omnichannel scenarios to build an emotional connection. The revenue of leading luxury companies like Bulgari (宝格丽) and CELINE (新系列) increased by about 18 times from 2021 to 2022. New technologies, for instance, allowed consumers to view a 3D representation of Louis Vuitton’s LV Archlight Sneaker and CELINE Ava bag. For an even better experience, they could use the size comparison feature to get a better estimate of the actual size of the Ava bag.
Green consumption supporting China’s transition to a low-carbon economy
Along with the environmental sustainability trend in China, e-commerce platforms have rolled out eco-friendly initiatives. Logistics company Cainiao (菜鸟), founded jointly by Alibaba Group and other companies, executed a package recycling initiative in over 130,000 of their posts, recycling about 4 million carton parcel boxes from November 1st to 11th. Many of the products featured on Tmall had eco-friendly and low-carbon footprint labels on products in the apparel, cosmetics, and food categories among many others. JD.com, a leader in sales of home appliances, saw that 20% of their home appliances were made through trade-ins.
Tech improvements for a more optimized e-commerce ecosystem
E-commerce companies like Tmall and JD.com have invested in their technologies to lower operation costs and better services. They are trying to help brands and merchants, particularly SMEs, in an effort to promote China’s ‘Common Prosperity’ policy. On JD.com, the transaction volumes increased 100% for about 50,000 small- and medium-sized brands and 70,000 small and medium-size merchants, within the first 28 hours beginning at 8 pm on October 31st.
Key takeaways of Double 11 in China in 2022:
- The largest shopping festival Double 11 was celebrated for the 14th time. Unlike previous years, the participating e-commerce platforms didn’t announce their GMV. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it was not a success.
- According to Tmall, its GMV is similar to that of last year, while JD.com exceeded the industry average growth rate. Big data company Syntun monitored and released the sales data. Traditional platforms – Tmall, JD.com, and Pinduoduo – had a great GMV with a value of RMB 394 billion.
- E-commerce platforms have been rebuilding Double 11 to balance the needs of their consumers, merchants/brands, and the government.
- Double 11 in 2022 has shown a clear shift in consumer habits. People are making more rational decisions. Rather than spending money on the highest number of products at discounted prices, they are looking for higher returns and higher quality products, including outdoor sports and luxury goods.
- E-commerce platforms are developing new technologies to help merchants/brands, especially for SMEs to grow. This aligns well with the government’s ‘Common Prosperity’ policy.
- The sustainable development trend in China has led to more environment-friendly initiatives like Tmall’s carbon labeling.