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11/11 – China Double Eleven

Taitau is a Lithuanian brand of especially high quality – natural chocolate. We love it, so will you.

Some times, usually but not always on a Friday, we publish double or more our usual 600 word sized posts. We include more links to sites with further detailed information a wider, personal view or videos. Our Aim is to give you our reader and potential China investor or marketer more factual, current information than is available in mass media and help you to see life in China more through the eyes of your Chinese customers.

Short story: it can end up as a long read. So boil up the billy, make a pot of nice green tea, unwrap a bar of Lithuania’s Tai Tau dark chocolate and settle down for a slightly longer read from our Tea ‘nd Chocolate Bar collection.

We are around 2 weeks out from China Singles Day or 11/11. If you didn’t know that, probably this post is of no interest to you!

A hostess sells products via live broadcast during the first live broadcast fair held in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on June 6, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua
A hostess sells products via live broadcast during the first live broadcast fair held in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on June 6, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua

Today we’re resurrecting some of our earlier posts on Double Eleven in China, 11/11 or China Singles Days as it was once known and pulling the salient parts together for one concise article.

For the best part of the year and certainly the past few months, brands and marketers have been burning the midnight oil in preparation for this one day. Although not the only mega on line sales promotion in China, it is arguably the biggest, and for many smaller ( and we s’pose, bigger) businesses, the most important.

For them it is a time when their investment in building great customer relationships with their Chinese consumers pays off – literally!

We all know the “Story” around 11/11 as it is now branded, (every great marketing success must have a “story” these days it seems) how it developed as a small celebration of singleness on November 11th to the mammoth global, or near enough to, circus it is today.

The name, double eleven, is something of a misnomer as over the years it has grown to sprawl over more than just a few days, or few weeks. For example, the festival is strictly speaking, still 14 days away but platforms are already teasing “pre sales” promotions. So, in truth it is at least a 2 weeks long craziness. Or was, how it pans out this year will be interesting .

Pre purchase or pre ordering

In short, it enables buyers to “get the drop” on their competing fellow shoppers by reserving goods and paying a non refundable deposit ahead of time.

To put this into more graphic terms, double eleven in the past has been something like a shark feeding frenzy The “pre booking” enticement is like adding more blood. It helps whip up more excitement or “fear.” Fear of missing out.

In the past, there have been complaints re goods supposedly being on 11/11 unavailable on the day – sold out during pre booking. We say supposedly as we can’t be sure this is not another sharp sales trick.

This headline is an example of just how intense things can get;

China’s ‘Lipstick Brother’ Livestreamer Sells Record $2 Billion of Goods in One  Day

You can find this covered by many organisations, we took ours from Bloomberg , but in a nutshell it involves one of China’s top rating “Live Steamers” Li Jiaqi. He grew his reputation by live streaming himself as brand ambassador for various cosmetic firms, trying on their lipsticks. Hence his nickname.

Last year his October 22nd pre sale double eleven show livestreamed on Alibaba’s Taobao online marketplace, sold 2 billion US dollars, or around RMB 12 billion, with goods ranging from cosmetics to mobile phone accessories. That’s just in one day, 3 weeks before kick off.

However to be fair – and Aim2D always tries to be objective~- there is another reason for the 2 week head start, or prebuy.

In a time when many countries struggled to control Big Tech, China too started to reel in some of its major industry players. At the time,  Caixin Global and Yicai Global reported on China’s Big Tech and the big e-com platforms coming under close scrutiny from government over the way they operate.

Alleged infringements include unfair practice, price gauging, stand over tactics, bullying, anti competitive behaviour, empire building, customer privacy breaches, abuse of customer data, harassment and illegal working hours.

Probably not too dissimilar to the long list of grievances many governments faced against some of the mega tech and E-com platforms globally. There was also a growing under current of disquiet in society generally that this was becoming a tiresome event and maybe popularity was waning.

One of the many changes imposed by government was the “official start time” which, as we have discussed earlier, is now some 2 weeks prior to the 11th of November. In previous years, midnight, or one second after, has been the kick off time, resulting millions of Chinese jamming the Internet and pulling all nighters to be in line to scoop up a bargain.

Amid concerns on a health basis and the apparently negative impact on many businesses with tired or no show staff, start time was pulled back to 8pm. Some platforms hailed this as a success with many times more sales in the first 4 hours this year than last. Of course this isn’t any indication that the same increase will be shown in the end figure. More likely an attempt to put a brave face on the new instruction

What’s Live Streaming?

Clearly, with just a few days to go till kick off it may be a tad late to start planning for 2021. But, it is the best time to begin work on a 2022 campaign. However, not only do you need to start preparing and planning NOW but you need to look at creating something daring different and unique.

Yet, they say there is nothing new under the sun, so that is your challenge because history of this event has shown us, creativity leads to massive success. You might like how luxury brands can win in Double -11 by The Luxury Conversation as a primer.

They also have this superb piece detailing more specific ideas from the 2020 D11 festival, check out this website for five examples of the more creative D11 campaigns.

For a little, ok a lot more indepth reading, our friends at Caixin Global cover this in a subscription based article: Weekend Long Read: The Facts and Fables About China’s Singles Economy.

Given this was initially an Alibaba inspired idea it wouldn’t be fair not to mention them. So if you are more visual and video is your thing, we have a couple for you below.
But before we roll film we just want to talk about an option that raised our eyebrows in the video:

How do I even know what to buy?”

They proudly announce another “new helpful addition” – senior mode. Among laudable improvements, such as cleaner layout, bigger font, seniors can now visit a page dedicated solely to them, view their favourite products without the distraction and clutter of other items.

So hang on a bit, is big tech now telling consumers what they should buy? Hmm, so we are over 65, we now must forget our slinky, Lycra fluorescent hoodie and settle on a sensible, drab, grey button up woollie cardigan? Isn’t this trend a little worrying? More than a few Chinese also believe so.

You can catch the video here; How Chinese Consumers Shop Online – 11.11 Global Shopping Festival. 

Will China’s 2022 Single’s Day Fly or Fizzle?

You will recall that last year, after the Covid controls, 11/11 sales, whilst still exceeding previous years, were down in actual growth. The seemingly unstoppable mania of xx% increase over past year etc etc, came to a shuttering halt.

So, after a year of Omicron, shut downs, lockdowns and various other restrictions, will this years China 11/11 bounce back? Or are we seeing the slow death of this 11/11 craziness?

We end today with a video from said Alibaba Marketplace: How Chinese Consumers Shop Online – Cross-Border Commerce But, a word of warning. Before you dash into China with your “Magnificent Foreign Products” expecting hordes of frenzied shoppers to be screaming your brand name at the airport, throwing their underwear at you as you arrive – reality check.

Despite the hype in the video, there are some excellent, world class quality products available in China at slightly less than premium price. You will likely be arriving to an extremely cluttered, busy and cut throat competitive market. Do your home work first.

As our article suggests, it is probably a little late to start thinking about this year, but not too late to start to plan for 2023.

Bicyu client logo bar
A selection of Bicyu clients since 2003

Talk to Fanfan today about your China Social Media Marketing Plan.

Ms Wang Fan, a founding member of The Bicaverse -China social media creative
Ms Wang Fan, a founding member of The Bicaverse – lead China social media creative


A GenY or Millennial  generation Ms Wang brings a fresh, modern, personally realistic viewpoint on how to reach this much coveted China consumer group.

Prior to helping start the Bicaverse, Fan studied Fashion Marketing at Manchester university. She has also travelled extensively across Europe.

A strong supporter of Chinese fashion designers Fan has a close network with many like minded China marketing professionals being instrumental in many of our client’s success.

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PLEASE NOTE: while we are really happy to share our content with you and the rest of the world with no restrictions, we must, sadly restrict comments.

Since the start of this year, probably like you, we have seen a mega increase in robot driven, automatic generated spam comments and emails. 90% spilt between Gmail and Yahoo.

This level of assault is unsustainable. It puts both your and our security at risk.

Consequently, from December 1st, we are sorry, but will block all comments from the major free, public email providers. We still welcome all email.

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