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Changing Chinese consumer preferences

Daryl Guppy
Daryl Guppy6/30/2022 01:43 PM GMT+08  • 6 min read
Changing Chinese consumer preferences
Alibaba Group’s Jiang Fan, then president of Taobao and Tmall, speaks as a final transaction figure is displayed at the gala event for Alibaba’s annual Nov 11 Singles Day online shopping event in 2020. Photo: Bloomberg
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Five or six years ago, the West discovered China’s Singles Day (which falls on Nov 11). This was a deliberate marketing exercise designed to drive online sales. It was called Singles Day because the sales date was day one of the 11th month or 111. In a very clever twist, this concept of singles was also used to appeal to unmarried consumers although of course the sales appealed to a much wider audience.

The US has a similar event: The curiously named Black Friday (which normally falls on the fourth Friday in November) — curious because traditionally this is Friday the 13th.

Then, they came up with Cyber Monday sales (or e-commerce sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving in the US). Neither of these sales gained anywhere near the traction or turnover of China’s Singles Day, mainly because the US market did not have the same levels of digital sophistication as China. Remember, this is an economy that still uses magnetic strips on credit cards rather than embedded chips.

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