Singles Day Campaign 101 – Draw massive sales in China

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In 2019, Singles Day in China broke worldwide records — generating almost $40 billion for Alibaba in just 24 hours, outselling both Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined

It is, indisputably, the king of retail events and shows no signs of slowing down

But how can international businesses capitalize on this Chinese phenomenon? 

In this post, we’ll break down the best Singles Day marketing campaigns: why they worked and how you can build a Singles Day strategy that seriously converts. 

What, and when, is Singles Day?

Singles Day, as you might have guessed, is a shopping holiday in celebration of singlehood. It was created in 1993 by a group of university students, who originally named the event ‘Bachelor’s Day’ as a new, ‘anti-valentines day’ for singletons across China. 

Over time, the holiday grew in popularity and attracted the attention of Alibaba — China’s largest e-commerce company — who transformed the event, turning it into a marketing goldmine. Today, brands all over the world offer huge discounts to celebrate independence and self-love.  

The holiday is celebrated on November 11th each year, with ‘11.11’ representing four singles (or ‘bare sticks’) in Chinese culture. 

What products sell best on Singles Day? 

Although Singles Day has gained mainstream momentum, the shopping festival is still very much dominated by brands in the ‘self-care’ and ‘self-gifting’ niche. 

In 2019, companies that exceeded $100 million in Singles Day sales included tech brands, such as Apple and Bose, along with beauty and fashion brands, like L’Oréal, H&M and Estée Lauder. 

And in terms of popular import products, food supplements, makeup and face wash rose to the top, reinforcing the ‘self-care’ trend. 

Based on that data, the following product categories perform best on Singles Day: 

  • Fashion brands 
  • Makeup 
  • Technology 
  • Health and wellness

Planning a Singles Day Campaign?

AdChina.io is one of the easiest ways to get started with selling in China. Use our self-service platform to run ads and drive quality traffic to your point of sale. Create a FREE account to get started.

Looking back at Singles Day 2019 — the best campaigns 

So, we know what industries benefit most from Singles Day, but how do they capitalize on the demand?

  1. L’Oréal’s Livestream Campaign 
singles day loreal campaign
Image Source: Tech Crunch

Last year, L’Oréal teamed up with Tmall (a Chinese e-commerce store) to livestream popular influencers promoting their products on Singles Day. This direct and native campaign made L’Oréal the most successful beauty brand on 11.11, boosting sales to over $100M.

  1. Dyson’s Airwrap New Product Launch
dyson singles day campaign
Image Source: Tipsmake

Understanding the ethos of Singles Day perfectly, Dyson used 11.11 to launch its new Airwrap hair styling tool to great effect. The product sold out in just 15 seconds on JD.com, while the 3 minutes it took to shift all Airwrap SKUs on Tmall is hardly bad going either!

  1. Kim Kardashian West’s Influencer Live Stream
viya - kim kardashian singles day campaign
Image Source: Jing Daily

Influencers carry just as much weight in China as they do in the rest of the world — if not more. No surprises then, that when Kim Kardashian West (one of the most prolific influencers in the world) teamed up with Viya (China’s top livestreamer), the results were explosive. Kim’s 15,000 perfume bottles were sold within minutes of their global conversation going live.

Of course, not every brand can get a special guest of Viya’s caliber. But whatever you do — big or small — generating buzz and excitement around your 11.11 launch is key.

Singles Day 2020 — three areas you should focus on 

1. Sell your products via e-commerce marketplaces in China 

Last year, China’s e-commerce giants only grew taller thanks to Singles Day success. 

Alibaba netted almost $40 billion. While other sites, like JD.com, broke their own, all-time records and reached billions in sales. 

These are serious numbers, and prove that if any brand wants a slice of the Singles Day pie, e-commerce marketplaces in China are the place to be. 

Tmall Global and JD.com, in particular, offer great opportunities for international brands — you don’t need a local warehouse, you don’t need a Chinese bank, and you don’t need to register as a Chinese company. In fact, thanks to these two sites, selling in China couldn’t be easier. 

Planning a Singles Day Campaign?

AdChina.io is one of the easiest ways to get started with selling in China. Use our self-service platform to run ads and drive quality traffic to your point of sale. Create a FREE account to get started.

2. Get your own online store ready for Singles Day

E-comm partnerships provide a fantastic route in for Singles Day, but they shouldn’t be your only sales funnel for 11.11. Preparing (and promoting) your own online store is also an absolute must for a successful Singles Day campaign, too. 

First, you’ll need to set up a complete fulfilment process to ship your products to China. Then, you’ll have to develop a valuable and relevant offer for the event, as well. 

Remember, Singles Day is all about self-love and self-care. Launching a new limited product in line with that theme is a great way to capitalize on the hype. This could be a new skincare product or appliance, depending on what industry you’re in. 

You can also offer a generous Singles Day discount to your customers.

Social media is the perfect place to promote your Singles Day campaign — after all, 90% of Singles Day sales are completed through mobile. But as everyone knows, growing your following and engagement organically can take time. Give yourself plenty of time — months, really — to invest in your social channels.

Get an understanding of the social media landscape in China with our recent blog post here.

3. Spend wisely on digital platforms

Most marketing managers are comfortable advertising on platforms like Google, Facebook and Instagram.

But in China, digital marketing looks a little different. 

Most media platforms are Chinese language only, so it can be difficult to know which platforms are best (or even possible) to advertise on. If you’re wondering where to invest your marketing spend, we’d suggest:

Check out our article on digital advertising in China for a comprehensive breakdown of how to advertise on these platforms, and many more. 

What makes a successful Singles Day campaign?

So now you know what Singles Day is, and what you’ll need to do to participate, you’re almost good to go. These last few tips and tricks will help make your 11.11 campaign a success.

Be relevant

Relevancy is very important for your Singles Day marketing campaign. 

Not only should your product genuinely tap into the spirit of the event, but you’ve also got to align perfectly with the core audience that Singles Day attracts — predominantly, those in their late teens and twenties. 

Take a step back and consider what it is you’re lining up for 11.11. Because, not surprisingly, campaigns that are irrelevant tend to go unnoticed.

Be prepared 

Most brands start their Singles Day marketing campaigns at least a month before the event itself. This leaves enough time to get ahead of competitors and to collect some data on what’s working and what’s not. 

Chinese retailers start planning their marketing calendar for Singles Day in the summer itself. You should ideally try to start early and launch the campaign (across email, social media and advertising) in early October to make sure that everything is running smoothly on 11.11 itself. 

Partner up

With so much to gain from Singles Day, you can expect to be playing in a very competitive marketplace. You’ve got to be on the right platforms, targeting the right people, and running the right ads at the right time.

But navigating the language barrier and the long list of Chinese marketing regulations can be tough for an international brand.

That’s why, here at AdChina, we do all the heavy lifting — making your impact in China as impressive (and profitable) as it can possibly be. Sidestep the obstacles with our all-in-one platform, and unlock the most important market in the world. 

Book a free demo to learn how we can prepare your business for a Singles Day to remember.

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