Singles' Day (11.11)

Alibaba Singles’ Day sales growth momentum to continue, albeit amid shifting preferences among mainland consumers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 9:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 10:58pm

Singles’ Day shopping on the mainland will maintain an upward momentum despite worries about the slowing economy, driven by a rising ardour for imported products and quality services among mainlanders, according to global consultancy Bain & Co.

Bruno Lannes, a partner with Bain and head of the company’s consumer products in China, told the Post Thursday that growth would last “many years” as the e-commerce shopping bonanza on November 11, a benchmark for Chinese retail on par with Black Friday, a day known for shopping in the US which follows Thanksgiving Day, became more internationalised.

Alibaba Group generated sales of US$17.8 billion (HK$138.1 billion) on Singles’ Day this year, up 32 per cent from 2015.

Purchases on Singles’ Day were started and trademarked by Alibaba, owner of the South China Morning Post, in 2012.

In both 2014 and 2015, Alibaba recorded about 60 per cent annualised growth of sales during the one-day shopping event, developing it into the world’s largest and most successful shopping event.

The slower growth in sales this year triggered speculation that the shopping event is entering the middle age of its development cycle.

“It’s such a huge amount already, and the growth will flatten,” said Lannes. “But the way it is developing is more sophisticated and professional. That’s appealing to Chinese people.”

He added that international transactions and purchases of services during the shopping spree would continue to drive sales to new heights in coming years.

Jason Yu, general manager of market research firm Kantar Worldpanel China, said imported products became a focus among mainland shoppers during this year’s Singles’ Day event.

“It is a clear sign that mainland consumers are looking for quality products,” he said. “They have the purchasing power to buy high-priced goods with high added value.”

Users from 235 countries participated in the shopping festival this year, and international transactions jumped 60 per cent from a year ago.

The Chinese leadership is engineering an economic transition towards a new growth engine driven by consumer spending while encouraging wider use of the latest digital technologies to spur domestic demand and enhance commercial efficiency.

This year, more than 80 per cent of sales were conducted via mobile devices during Alibaba’s one-day shopping festival.

A China shopper report compiled by Bain and Kantar Worldpanel said that new shoppers were attracted because of the increasing penetration of internet technologies.

Yu predicted that online sales of fast moving consumer goods would account for 15 to 20 per cent of the national total in several years amid the changing lifestyles of Chinese shoppers.

In 2015, online sales of fast moving consumer goods, ranging from soft drinks to baby care and beauty products, represented 4.3 per cent of the country’s total, or 1.25 trillion yuan.

Online spending on fast moving consumer goods in China rose 36.5 per cent in 2015.