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Survey reveals consumers’ plan for Singles Day

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Shoppers 04.11.2016 / 09:30

Ali Suning vs JD Walmart 2 col

From which e-commerce platforms will they buy from? What will they buy? How much money have they prepared?

In the running up of Singles Day, Kantar partnered with CTR to launch an online survey to test Chinese netizens’ intention for the world’s largest annual cyber sales event.

Alibaba Group, which had gradually turned the jokingly coined festival on November 11 for single adults (because all digits for November 11 are the lonesome 1) into an online sales event, would continue to be one of the biggest beneficiaries from event, according to the survey which collected 3,248 valid answers between October 25 and 26.

More than half of the participants (52%) said they would shop from Tmall, Alibaba’s B2C online portal, while 42% mentioned Taobao, the company’s C2C online shopping platform. The closest competitor is JD.com, in which Tencent has a 21.25% stake, because it was mentioned by 29% people. The only other e-retailor mentioned by more than 10% of surveyees was Suning (14%), which was also partly owned by Alibaba. Besides “the Big Four”, no any other e-retailers were mentioned by more than 9% of participants. Nearly 10% said they haven’t made up their mind yet.



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Throughout various questions in the survey, between 6% to 16% of people said they would not buy anything on November 11.

Mobile will continue to be the dominant channel for people to place orders: in a multiple option question, 44% of participants said they’ll shop through mobile app (except WeChat), 16% said they’d access e-retailer websites through mobile browser and 8% mentioned WeChat. Still 37% said they’ll continue to use PC or laptops to buy from websites.

These results imply that Chinese consumers’ mobile commerce shift will be only stronger. Last year, 42.6% of Alibaba’s 57.1 billion yuan GMVs (gross merchandise volume) came through mobile, while JD.com also received more than 40% of 14 million orders through mobile channel.

According to the survey, the mean budget is 1,900 yuan. (For this question, 15% said not sure and 11% said they will not buy. The mean budget is calculated based on those gave an estimation of their budgets.) The biggest budget comes from the 35 – 44 year old bracket (2,035 yuan), followed by 55 year + group (2,018 yuan).

It might be a surprise, but men’s budget (1,921 yuan) is slightly higher than women’s (1,874 yuan). It could be explained by difference in category preference: more men plan to buy mobile phone or digital products (almost double that of women 28% vs 15%), computer (12% vs 9%), and home appliance (14% vs 9%). Overall, the three most mentioned categories are apparels (35%), food (23%) and footwear and hats (22%).



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To save money for the big day, about 46% said they plan to squeeze their spending before and after Singles Day. Among these financially disciplined consumers, half of them, or 23% of all participants, will cut spending on the same product they want to buy on that day; while the other half will cut spending on other things to find the money. There are 21% of all participants said they plan to buy on that day and won’t cut any spending at all. Besides 16% of respondents who claimed they would not buy while answering this question, 16% said they haven’t made any plan yet.

This might not be good news for manufacturers, but according to Kantar Worldpanel’s sales monitoring data, at least in FMCG, it’s not the case.

600 Px FMCG Sales During Nov 11

In 2014 and 2015’s Singles Day periods, we could see clear growth of online FMCG sales and increasingly bigger drop for offline FMCG sales, but the overall sales kept increasing, which means the incremental online sales more than offset the offline loss.

Last year, Alibaba partnered with the popular Hunan Satellite TV channel to host a “Singles Day Eve TV Gala Show” on November 10 and launched many promotion deals from brands throughout the show to TV audiences, so they can place orders. Our survey showed that last year, 16% of participants were not aware of the show, 32% knew about it but didn’t watch it, 16% watched without buying anything, and 13% participants bought something during the TV show. Another 24% said they couldn’t recall what they did in regard of this TV show.

This year, Alibaba continued this effort by working with Zhejiang Satellite TV Channel. About 18% of respondents said they planned to watch but won’t buy, 14% said they would watch and buy, while 31% said they were not sure.

We also tested what brands consumers might buy during Singles Day. The most likely behaviour was “I plan to buy those expensive brands I have always liked but never tried due to price. They will be cheaper on Singles Day” – nearly 30% participants claimed so. Nearly 20% participants said they will stick with the brands they have always bought, and 14% said they’d try unfamiliar brands because the cost is lower.

We will repeat this survey shortly after Singles Day to compare consumers’ actual behaviour with their claimed intentions so to paint a more accurate picture. Please stay tuned.

Source: CTR, Kantar, Kantar Worldpanel

Editor's notes

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