As Britain starts November with fireworks and wearing poppies, the whole of China awaits Singles’ Day. It could be understandable that you haven’t heard of it yet, although in China 11.11 has already become something of a modern phenomenon.
11.11, so called ‘Singles’ Day’ is a made-up festival. It started as an anti-Valentines Day for young Chinese singletons. However, ever since 2009 the e-commerce giant Alibaba has reformed it into an online shopping festival by offering discounts across its entire platform.
In 2009, the sale was just with 27 merchants on board. This number has escalated to 140,000 this year and around 15 million products will be discounted. It was reported by BBC that the company reached 121bn yuan ($18bn; £14bn) of sales last year. Presumably, this record will be beaten by Alibaba itself tomorrow again, considering its precedents from the past few years.
The craziness of this phenomenal day has gone way beyond online shopping. In 2016, Alibaba organised a countdown Gala with 500 journalists, one third of which are from overseas. In order to create a global awareness, the company invited super stars including Katy Perry, David and Victoria Beckham. This year Pharrell Williams is also confirmed as one of the heavyweight guest performers.
However, some questions are brought up along with 11.11’s spectacular. The immense flow of counterfeit goods passed by the merchants has led to a huge problem in the industry. Today, the changing of consumption habits, as one of the consequences of Singles’ Day is dreadfully threatening the traditional channels of consumption in China.
Will Alibaba break its record tomorrow again? Are we finally coming to the end of offline retail industry? We shall wait and see.
Words: Erin Zhang | Subbed: Olivia Herring