Why Is Interest in Singles' Day Declining?

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Why Is Interest in Singles' Day Declining?

While the international media was using "What is China's Singles' Day?" as its headline on Nov. 11, 2014, we all know by now it is supposed to be a chance to celebrate for the singletons, or "bare sticks" symbolized by the four number ones in the date of "11/11."

It was originally created by Alibaba for its e-commerce platform promotion in the low season of November, right after the golden week of National Day celebration with seven consecutive days of holiday. In 2015, Alibaba said sales had reached 51.9 billion yuan (around $7.7 billion with today's conversion rate), more than the total sum of the sales in the Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday of the same year in the United States.

China's Singles' Day was the world's biggest online shopping event in 2015. It is no longer just a topic within China. AdMaster, the top marketing data technology firm in China, conducted a mobile survey with 1,730 netizens in mid-October to find out how 720-million Chinese netizens will respond to the eighth Singles' Day.

Chinese netizens are showing less interest and less desire to participate the coming carnival
Unfortunately, the report kicked off with a splash of cold water to the bubbling carnival: only 71 percent of the respondents claimed they would participate in the coming Singles' Day, a drop of 13 points from the 84 percent participating last year. And netizens did not like the day as much as before. In 2014, 86 percent of the respondents said they liked the Singles Day event, soaring a little bit to 88 percent in 2015 but dropping to 80 percent this year.

People used to say this carnival belonged to the young people. However, this year, consumers younger than 25 told AdMaster that they would not be as participative as last year, 20 points down from 2015's 84 percent to 2016's 64 percent, the biggest drop among all age groups. What's more, 25-year-olds showed the lowest rate of likelihood (75 percent) of participating and the biggest drop of 12 points among all age groups. The netizens from the third-tier cities and below also showed the lowest likelihood of 78 percent in 2016 as compared to those in the larger tier-one and tier-two cities, while this group of netizens from third-tier cities and below showed their highest likelihood of participating in the Carnival compared to 2015.

Slow logistics delivery consistently has been dragging on the desire of netizens (25 percent) to participate in the carnival. However, it is interesting to see that 24 percent of the netizens said they would not participate because there have been so many promotions on e-commerce platforms, it was not necessary to join the event for that reason.

The smaller e-commerce platforms are stealing the netizens' attention from the dominating big three
Though Singles' Day was initiated by Alibaba eight years ago, it used to be dominated by the thre main e-commerce platforms, namely Taobao and Tmall, both owned by Alibaba, together with JD.com. Another surprise from the survey was the change of the momentum. These big three are losing the attention of the netizens. Instead, smaller e-commerce platforms are gaining more attention than last year. In particular, VIP.com ranks fourth after the big three, with 11 points of growth of attention and awareness from last year's 20 percent to 31 percent in 2016.

The top five most favorable categories have been remained unchanged for three years
"Apparel & accessories", "skin care & cosmetics", "food & beverage", "personal care" and "mobile phones & digital products" consistently have been the top five most favorable categories for the past two years and netizens said these were still the most preferred categories. "Apparel & accessories" was the leading category last year and will keep the top sport this year while "mobile phones & digital products" category have been moving from 2014's third place to 2015's fourth place and fifth place this year.

Instead of Apple Pay, Alipay of Alibaba and WeChat Payment are the most-used payment methods in China. AdMaster's data revealed that Alipay is losing this domain to WeChat Payment. While 87 percent of respondents said they would pay through Alipay last year, that number has dropped to 80 percent this year. On the other hand, only 32 percent of the respondents said they would choose WeChat Payment in 2015, which jumped by 10 points to 42 percent this year. Tencent is entering into the domain of Ali.

Last but not least, while Alibaba said more than 27 million purchases came via mobile devices in the first hour of last Singles' Day, e-shoppers told AdMaster that smartphones are still their favorite device for Singles' Day shopping in 2016.

"This is the eighth Singles' Day. The data showed that it was moving into a new stage, which represents a different game of Singles' Day and a different attitude of e-shoppers in China," said Maggie Wang, AdMaster commercial and innovation vice president.  "Singles' Day is losing its dominant status in terms of consumer's attention or key players' presence. And Chinese e-shoppers are spoiled by continuous promotions and immediate delivery.

"They are also more sophisticated and rational who require more customization and good reason-to-buy. As we always advise marketers that Singles' Day should not be seen just as a retail promotion on e-commerce platform, it is about the consumer engagement with the brand," continued Wang. "With the decreased desire of consumer interest, I highly recommend brands to move on with innovative initiatives on online/offline integration and to prepare for the reducing output from this year's Singles' Day."