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is Double 11 still relevant in China?

“Is there still a need for the Double 11 shopping festival to exist?”: trending hashtag on Chinese social media

The Double 11 shopping festival, or Singles’ Day, first introduced by China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2009, has become the biggest shopping festival in China as well as worldwide, surpassing America’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday by a substantial margin. However, recent years have witnessed a waning enthusiasm among Chinese consumers, attributed to factors like economic uncertainties, the repercussions of an extended pandemic, and rising sentiments such as consumption downgrade and minimalism. After over a decade of speedy development, China’s e-commerce scene has become highly saturated as well, leaving little room for further growth. In 2022, the total GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) during Singles’ Day across all e-commerce platforms was 965.12 billion RMB, with a year-on-year growth of 12.22%, while the growth rate in 2021 was 43.33%.

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Shifts in consumer sentiment cast doubts on Double 11’s value

Only a few weeks after the arrival of this year’s Double 11, there have been heated discussions on Weibo in terms of #Is there still a need for the Double 11 shopping festival to exist?# (双十一还有必要存在吗) in the 3rd week of October, viewed over 54 million times by enthused netizens. According to a poll initiated by Sina Finance (新浪财经), 63% of the respondents considered it to be unnecessary as Double 11 has already lost its original meaning. Whereas 19% still think it is something of a necessity. This is because they are looking to stock up every year on Double 11. Thus, it left 18% of the respondents who hold a somewhat neutral stance towards it.

Under the hashtag, many netizens have complained that the shopping festival promotions nowadays seem more like marketing stunts that offer very few substantial benefits to consumers. “Some products are even more expensive than usual,” a netizen from Shanghai commented.

Source: Weibo, Chinese netizens’ comments on Double 11 shopping festival

The impact of scepticism on Double 11 in China

Consumer sentiment leaning towards skepticism about promotional events like Double 11 requires a reevaluation of marketing strategies in China. Consumers are likely to receive authentic marketing campaigns that resonate with their target audience. Businesses need to be conscious of their pricing strategies. Moreover, consumers’ perception of value is critical, and if they perceive that prices are inflated during promotional events, it can harm the brand’s reputation. Therefore, transparent and competitive pricing is essential to maintain trust.

What brands should know about Double 11 in 2023

  • Double 11, China’s massive shopping festival, has grown exponentially but faces declining consumer enthusiasm due to economic uncertainties and changing consumer attitudes.
  • Recent discussions on Weibo reveal doubts about Double 11’s relevance, with many consumers seeing it as less beneficial and more marketing-oriented, leading to concerns about inflated prices.
  • To address consumers’ scepticism, businesses need authentic marketing campaigns and transparent, competitive pricing to maintain consumer trust and adapt to evolving market dynamics in China.