China’s annual “Singles Day” sales event, conceived by tech giant Alibaba, has seen a decline in consumer enthusiasm this year. As the world’s second-largest economy experiences a slowdown, consumers are becoming less enticed by flashy deals and discounts. While last year’s Singles Day sales reached a staggering 1.1 trillion yuan ($153 billion), a recent report by consultancy firm Bain indicates that 77 percent of consumers surveyed this year do not plan to spend more than usual during the event. This article will delve into the reasons behind this decline and explore how Chinese consumer habits have changed.
The overwhelming majority of consumers surveyed by Bain expressed a reduced desire to make extravagant purchases. Recent graduate Zhang Chuwen, 23, explained that people are now consuming less and opting for everyday necessity products instead. The notion of accumulating possessions for the sake of it seems less appealing in today’s economic climate. Furthermore, some consumers have noted that this year’s Singles Day deals are not as enticing as in previous years, with allegations of websites raising prices before lowering them for the holiday. Guan Yonghao, 21, echoed this sentiment, stating that there were no significant price differences and he ultimately refrained from making any purchases due to financial constraints.
Vincent Marion, co-founder of VO2 Asia Pacific, suggests that while sales for Singles Day are predicted to exceed 1 trillion yuan for the second consecutive year, the overall growth appears stagnant. This is primarily attributed to changing Chinese consumer habits favoring savings rather than impulsive spending. The Chinese population has become more educated, discerning, and thoughtful in their approach to consumption. Marion’s firm reported a 7.5 percent decline in sales since the start of Singles Day promotions on October 24. Jacob Cooke, CEO of WPIC Marketing + Technologies, adds that the appeal of Singles Day has diminished due to other shopping festivals and the rise of livestreaming. The event has lost its luster as consumers now have more choices and opportunities to purchase discounted goods throughout the year.
Livestreaming has gained immense popularity in China, with e-commerce giants attracting millions through these online sales pitches. However, even livestreamers have noticed a downturn in this year’s Singles Day sales compared to previous years. Liu Kai, an e-commerce livestreamer, highlights that the online sales for Singles Day are not as impressive as before. This could be attributed to the saturation of livestreaming platforms and the increasing number of secondary shopping festivals that offer similar discounts.
Initially inspired by the four ones in its date, November 11, “11/11” became a tongue-in-cheek celebration of singlehood. However, this year’s sales began as early as late October on some platforms, diluting the excitement and novelty that characterized the event in the past. Both Alibaba and JD.com, its main rival, refrained from releasing full sales figures last year, suggesting that sales remained flat compared to the previous year.
China’s government has implemented various measures to revitalize its economic growth, particularly addressing the struggling property sector and announcing large-scale infrastructure spending plans. These measures aim to curb the slowing economy and instill confidence in consumers. Despite these efforts, the changing dynamics of Singles Day reflect deeper shifts in consumer behavior and highlight the need for businesses to adapt to evolving demands and preferences.
China’s annual Singles Day sales event has lost its appeal amidst a slowing economy and changing consumer habits. The decreased interest in flashy deals and discounts indicates a shift towards more mindful and conservative spending among Chinese consumers. The rise of livestreaming and secondary shopping festivals has further contributed to the decline in Singles Day’s prominence. As the Chinese market continues to evolve, businesses must be proactive in understanding and adapting to these changing dynamics in order to remain competitive.