Alibaba eyes lower-tier, overseas markets to power Singles Day growth

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Jiang Fan, president of Taobao and Tmall e-commerce platforms, at the Singles Day event on Oct. 21, 2019 in Shanghai. (Image credit: Alibaba)

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba kicked off promotional efforts for its annual shopping extravaganza, the November 11 Global Shopping Festival known as Singles Day, as the massive annual sales event heads into its second decade.

Why it matters: Each year, Chinese e-commerce giants are working on new marketing campaigns and strategies to boost sales to fresh highs.

  • Singles Day growth last year slowed as overall e-commerce sales declined in China and competition from rivals like Pinduoduo and JD heightened.

“Our goal is to stimulate consumption demand and support lifestyle upgrade in China through new brands and products. We will enable merchants in China and around the world to grow their businesses through data-driven product innovation and consumer insights, as well as leverage our recommendation technology and content-driven user engagement to delight consumers in urban coastal cities and less-developed areas of China.”

—Jiang Fan, president of Taobao and Tmall, in an emailed statement

Details: More than 500 million users are expected to participate in this year’s promotion, about 100 million more than last year, according to Jiang at a Singles Day event on Monday in Shanghai.

  • Lower-tier city markets are a new focus, a trend among Chinese e-commerce platforms as they search for growth. During the event, special marketing attention was given to consumers and small businesses in less- developed markets, like China’s northeast region. More than 70% of Alibaba’s new yearly active consumers came from lower-tier cities during the quarter ended June 30.

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  • Alibaba will leverage the promotion to extend its global presence through cross-border online marketplace Tmall Global, Alibaba-owned Southeast Asia e-commerce platform Lazada, and AliExpress, and Southeast Asia e-retailer Daraz.
  • Travel will continue to be part of Alibaba’s offerings through its travel platform Fliggy.
  • The company touted greener efforts, offering November 20 as the day Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao will promote cardboard recycling while its second-hand selling platform Idle Fish will launch a trade-in program for used goods. It also is deploying energy-saving efforts such as liquid-cooled servers.
  • Consumer savings from brand and platform promotions and coupons are expected to total around RMB 50 billion ($7 billion), according to Jiang.
  • More than 200,000 brands are participating in the promotion, and 1 million new products are on offer.

Context: For Chinese consumers, Singles Day, a marketing concept first conceived by Alibaba executive chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang in 2009, goes beyond Alibaba with other e-commerce platforms and retailers participating in the gravitational pull of the annual promotion.