China Insights

Tmall, Taobao and set to win big on Singles Day

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Shoppers 09.11.2018 / 18:23

2018 Singles Day launch

Lightspeed survey shows average budget for 2018 Singles Day is 3,048 yuan.

As Singles Day enters its 10th year, will people still have strong interests in it?

Lightspeed’s Pre-Singles Day survey collected valid answers from 983 real ID-registered panellists across 87 Chinese cities in three city-tiers. The answer is: only 4% respondents said they didn’t plan to buy anything; 5% “haven’t finalized their plan”. In other words, 91% respondents are sure what they will buy in this Singles Day shopping.

Ten years ago, Chinese young people jokingly named November 11 as “Singles Day” because all digits for this day are the lonesome “1s”. Alibaba Group saw a commercial opportunity and in 2009 launched an online sales festival to “celebrate” the Singles Day. Now it has become the world’s largest e-commerce shopping bonanza: in 2017, Alibaba’s two e-commerce platforms (B2C brand Tmall and C2C brand Taobao) on November 11 alone sold goods worth of 168.2 billion yuan, 39% higher than a year ago., another leading B2C e-commerce platform, for the first time announced its Singles Day sales result: goods worth of 127.1 billion yuan were sold during its “11.11 Global Shopping Carnival” (November 1 till 11), an annual increase of 50%.

As the Singles Day evolves, retailers have extended the Singles Day sales season to start at the beginning of November and end at about one week after November 11. The survey showed that 51% respondents plan to buy during the “warming up” period and 23% would seek “encore” bargains in the “after party”.

During the “warming up” period, many retailers launched challenges in their apps for people to collect “red packets” and can be used to deduct their payment during Singles Day.  It turned out to be quite popular as 45% said they had joined these games, with female consumers more engaged than male (48% vs 41%).

Among those who claimed they didn’t plan to buy during Singles Day, the main reason was not “there is no real discount on Singles Day” (22% mention), or “too complicated discount terms and policy” (17%). The most mentioned reason is “I don’t have anything particular I want to buy” (78%).

This year we also asked a new question: “whom will you be buying for during Singles Day?” The most common answer is “myself” (93%), followed by “my spouse” (male 60%, female 61%) and “my kid(s)” (54%).

Even though people used to think of only physical goods for Singles Day shopping, in fact virtual goods and services are also popular: 91% mentioned physical goods, 26% mentioned services (such as plane tickets, hotel rooms and gym membership fee) and 23% for virtual goods (gaming account points, video site membership, online education, etc).

Among physical goods, apparel (70%) and footwear (52%) are two most mentioned categories, followed by major FMCG categories, such as food (51%), household care (40%), personal care (38%) and cosmetics (36%). On average, each people plan to buy in 4.9 categories.

There are many players in China’s e-commerce landscape, but after these years’ shake-up, now there are only three players in the distant leader pack: Tmall was mentioned by 78% respondents, followed neck-by-neck by Taobao (67%) and (65%). No other e-retailer platform was mentioned by more than 20% people. Pinduoduo, the fast-rising social e-commerce shopping, was mentioned by 12% of respondents.

In terms of budget, the mean figure is 3,048 yuan, with only 35 yuan difference between male and female (female 3,065 yuan vs male 3,030.) There is a tie in the most mentioned budget bracket: 1,001- 2,000 yuan and 2,001 – 4,000 yuan were both mentioned by 19%. There are 4% said their budget is above 10,000 yuan and 3% below 300 yuan.

But these are only words and plans, will people really play by their plan and budget? What categories and e-commerce platforms will perform better than expected? Please watch this place because we will launch another Post-Singles Day survey on November 12 to see what people actually bought/did on that big day.


Source: Kantar, Lightspeed

Editor's notes

*In the photo, Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, shares his experiences of Singles Day shopping festival development at the 10th anniversary of Singles Day in a Beijing event on November 19, 2018;

* The survey was undertaken by Lightspeed through its online survey panel. It collected 983 valid answers from its real-ID registered panellists from November 2 till 6. The male vs female ratio is 1:1. 

* To reach the author, or to know more information, data and analysis of China's e-commerce industry and FMCG market, please contact us ;

* Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive news alerts.

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