On the surface , Singles’ Day (11.11) may sound like a
bit of a sad affair, conjuring images of wallowing in loneliness and
misery or lying in bed all day with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. But
Singles’ Day is actually Asia’s largest shopping bonanza and the world’s
largest online shopping event. According to Forbes, last year the holiday racked up 17.8 billion USD (around 120.7 billion RMB). So, yeah, it’s a bit of a big deal.
If you’re thinking about joining in on the craze, here’s 11 things you should know about 11.11.
1. Singles’ Day originated in a Nanjing university dorm
the actual origin of Singles' Day is debatable, most people have
settled upon the story of how it emerged from the dormitories of Nanjing
University in the mid-90s. Four single university male students
gathered to discuss how to break the shackles of the monotony of
singlehood (remember those were pre-Tinder/Facebook days). One dude had
the epiphany of deciding that November 11 would be representative of
Singles' Day due to the number of ones in the date – 11-11 recalls the
‘bare sticks’ Chinese idiom, used to refer to people (mostly men) who
stay single most of their lives.
made its rounds on social media, garnering more and more interest from
singletons across China as a day to spend with friends, until in 2009,
Alibaba co-opted the holiday to market a massive sales campaign. Now
China has this absurdly successful commercial holiday born from
post-modern laughter in the face of classic crushing loneliness.
2. Look out for fake deals and trick sales
3. Kuaidi's will be crazy (crazier)
4. Read the fine print and do your own maths
rules and online promotions for Singles’ Day get more complicated every
year. Ideas like pre-launch, pre-order, money-off and price protection
policies need some careful reading
to make sure you know what you’re buying into. Also, combining and
separating orders might disqualify you from discounts. Best to keep that
old TI-84 graphing calculator by your side as you measure up your
5. Don't turn this festival into ‘hands-chopping’ festival
netizens have taken to a gruesome nickname for Singles’ Day.
‘Hands-Chopping Festival’ (剁手節), as in ‘If I buy one more thing, I will
chop my hands off.’ Everyone buys at least one more thing, no one
actually chops off their hands, but many people do fall into the trap of
spending more than they should. Selling your dismembered hands is not a
good way to get out of debt, unless you’re in debt with the right
6. Record-breaking spending
Singles’ Day, in the press centre at Alibaba’s headquarters, a huge
screen live-tracks the number of transactions and RMB spent. Last year,
10 billion RMB in transactions were made just six minutes and 58 seconds
after the launch of sales. That was almost six minutes faster than the
time it took to reach the same number in 2015. By 3.20pm, sales volume
surpassed 91.2 billion, the sales volume for the entire day in 2015
. Let's see if Singles’ Day will continue to break its own records.
7. Star-studded Alibaba gala
Singles’ Day 2016, Alibaba ran a four-hour, nationally televised gala
on the eve of November 11. It featured Victoria and David Beckham,
Scarlett Johansson, One Republic, Kobe Bryant and Victoria’s Secret
models. According to Forbes
, the show earned a domestic viewership of 200 million and at least 10 million outside China.
This year, Alibaba hasn’t yet revealed the full line-up of their Singles’ Day launch gala, but singer Jessie J
and Pharrell Williams
are both rumored to perform on the stage of the Alibaba gala in
Shanghai this Friday, and some A-list Chinese celebrities such as Fan
BingBing, Kris Wu and Chris Lee have also been included on the playbill.
8. Spam messages and fraud go up around Singles’ Day
According to Shanghai Consumer Right Protection Commission
complaints received during the 2016 Singles’ Day sales period made up
12.7 percent of the total consumer complaints for the year. They were
mostly about false promoting information, unfulfilled purchase promises,
and after-sales service failures. Beijing's Public Security Bureau
also received 532 reports of fraud during Double 11 period last year, with each individual losing about 9,233RMB on average.
9. Singles' Day is going global
10. Singles’ Day is going green
tremendous amount of purchases on Singles’ Day means a lot of packages,
a lot of cardboard, and a lot of waste after people unpacking all of
their parcels. In 2017, Chinese courier companies in 2017 have already used
a total of 6.8 billion plastic bags, 3.4 billion plastic sleeves, 8.6
billion cardboard boxes, and more than 3 billion rolls of adhesive tape.
The main component of packaging materials, polyvinyl chloride, can take hundreds of years to degrade.
This year, Suning
introduced a recyclable delivery box. The ‘share box’ is light,
foldable and portable. When you sign for your package and collect its
contents, the courier will reuse the yellow box for the next delivery.
11. Be prepared for 12.12
Yes, Double 11 is not enough. Marketing genius Jack Ma must have more, so he has launched Double 12 for this year.
It’s much smaller in scale compared to Singles’ Day. Double 12
is for those small online vendors that can’t join the 11.11 party
because they sell low-demand niche products and lack the manpower to
handle big sales volumes. Also, for Double 12 Taobao requires sellers to
sell their items half-off if they want to be a part of the promotion.
Over 2 million sellers have registered to participate in this year’s