Single’s day in China – the world’s craziest shopping holiday

Single’s day in China – the world’s craziest shopping holiday

Yesterday was the 11th of the 11th, a day which China has dubbed ‘Single’s day’. What is single’s day you ask?

Well, it was originally started as a celebration of being single in a culture and country that puts pressure on its youth to enter into relationships and eventually get married.

However, largely thanks to the retail giant, Alibaba, single’s day has now become the world’s largest shopping holiday! That’s right, even bigger than Black Friday, Cyber Monday or any other Western shopping holiday.

But how big is single’s day really?

To really put it in perspective how big single’s day really is, in 2016 over $17 billion was spent on single’s day, which is more than double what was spent on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime day combined!

I bet you’re wondering what the grand total was for this year, aren’t you? A whopping $25 billion !!

Why has ‘single’s day’ become a shopping holiday?

The highly esteemed CEO of Alibaba, Jack Ma, decided back in 2009 to create a shopping promotion around a holiday. The holiday he chose was 11/11, or single’s day!

The idea behind their promotion was for single people to let go of the societal pressure and treat themselves in celebration of being single.

So… Does that mean only single people can splurge on single’s day?

Nope! Since 2009 the holiday has evolved dramatically and I now would argue, is only about the shopping! Anyone can take advantage of the crazy sales that happen on single’s day.

While it is mostly Alibaba doing the selling, through Tmall (天猫) and Taobao (淘宝) – their two biggest selling platforms in China, other eCommerce platforms such as and a host of others have also jumped on the bandwagon. Even brick and mortar stores are partaking in the madness.

I can’t even imagine how hard the 快递 (delivery men) are working to get everyone’s packages delivered on time. Just take a look at the pictures below.

What can we learn from single’s day?

Single’s day targets the young Chinese middle class who show evidence of stepping away from the traditional Chinese values of frugality and getting by with what you have.

The enormousness of single’s day is proof of a shifting culture and mindset among many young Chinese.

Single’s day also represents a global shift in power within the eCommerce industry. China has shown that it’s clearly way ahead in terms of its online sales and consumer engagement.

Once again it’s China surging ahead and the rest of the world marveling at what it’s been able to achieve.

Single’s day not only represents China’s growing power as an eCommerce giant but it also represents an opportunity for Western retailers to get rich selling goods to China.

If you do plan on selling in China though, then you’re going to have to things the Chinese way! Studying the brilliance of Jack Ma is the first step to understanding just how to break into this highly lucrative market.

Although this post is technically a day late… From all of us over here at Talking Mandarin:



Further reading: – Why single’s day in China is the biggest shopping spree ever – Single’s day celebrates the new religion of China’s middle class – consumerism

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