Preparing for Singles Day 2020 Feature Image

To the rest of the world, China’s ‘Singles Day’ (11.11) is an almost mystical event where Alibaba clears US$450,000 GMV per second (on average) for a full day. Truth is though, Singles Day is actually a three-week shopping festival and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s the culmination of months of planning, extensive cross-platform teamwork and gruelling forecasting. It’s also the event in which #Alibaba expects you hit 20-30% of your yearly sales.

This week, we explore some of the key Singles Day preparation guidance provided by our friends at Tmall Global. We hope you enjoy.

Tmall's Recommended Goals for Singles Day

This year, Alibaba has posted a number of ‘recommended goals’ for merchants participating in this year’s Singles Day promotion. They include the following:

  • Singles Day alone should comprise 20-30% of your annual sales targets. In other words, 1.2 – 2x more sales relative to your 618 sales. In other words, it’s not a sales day you’d want to miss.
  • Brands who are new to Tmall, or ‘Supernova Brands’, should be targeting a YOY sales increase of 60% relative to Singles Day 2019.
  • Merchants should aim to lock down 65% of Singles Day sales in pre-orders (i.e. the October 20 – November 10th period)
  • The volume of pre-sale orders should be 10-20% higher than 2019 levels. Note, this figure has been lowered this year; adjusting for the global pandemic.
  • Merchants should target to sell at least 20% of their total volume via livestream promotions. At the very minimum, livestreams should account for at least 7-10% of overall sales. In other words, livestreaming is no longer optional.
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Major Emerging Categories

Tmall has identified the following categories as being amongst the ‘hottest’ and fastest growing platform-wide:

  • Sunscreen
  • Face masks
  • Perfume & Fragrances
  • Highlighting Makeup
  • Mascara
  • Eyelash Extensions
  • Concealers
  • Men’s Personal Care Products
  • Eye Shadow
  • Men’s Care Kits
  • Hand Creams

The image to the right – taken in Xintiandi, Shanghai in mid 2019 demonstrates just how mainstream men’s personal care is becoming in China. However, although it’s one of the fastest growing categories, it’s also rapidly become one of the most contested.

Xintiandi, Shanghai Male makeup billboard
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Singles Day Preparation Timeline

Singles Day Preparation Timeline
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Promotion & Campaign Guidance

Each year, Tmall is very explicit that all marketing and sales campaigns throughout the Singles Day Shopping Festival should funnel audiences straight onto the Tmall platform. 

In other words, reconsider relying too heavily on WeChat posts. Don’t get us wrong, WeChat will be a vital Singles Day touchpoint, and particularly in your pre-promotional period. Just be wary that the hyperlink blocks that exist between Tencent and Alibaba-affiliated platforms are enough to stifle the conversion funnel. This isn’t good for anybody. 

Instead, consider ways to leverage Alibaba-friendly social/digital platforms. These include Sina Weibo, Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book), Youku, or even Douyin. Go large on the off-platform promotions leveraging KOLs. Articles are great, videos are better, but there’s nothing Alibaba loves more than live TV cross-overs – particularly when celebrities are involved.

Tmall also strongly promote appealing to your customers through their lifestyles. Showcase how your product can seamlessly slide into their daily routine. Whatever you do off-platform though, just make sure that you’re directing all traffic straight to your Tmall flagship store. From there, your key conversion tools will include:

  • Taobao Live (Tmall’s livestreaming platform)
  • Featured (paid) Programmatic Content Spots
  • CPC / SEM tools
  • Any marketing tools available to you from the Alimama suite
Singles Day Slide: Emerging trends
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Key Singles Day Campaigns in 2020

This year, Tmall is emphasising the need to support those affected by the global pandemic. The title of their major promotion roughly translates to the ¥10 Billion in Subsidies’ promotion.

They are also seeking to support the wounded travel and tourism industry. This will be largely achieved by nurturing ‘revenge shopping’ amongst the would-be tourists of 2020. This year, Tmall Global’s Duty-Free sales will feature tens of thousands of hand-picked, globally sourced products. 

Tmall’s ‘Super New Products campaign is available for products which were (i) officially registered China after July 1st, 2020, (ii) have been launched on Tmall exclusively after October 1st, and (iii) which meet the minimum stock and inventory requirements.

Finally, their ‘Buy One Get N’ promotion promises to shower customers with 5+ miniature samples whenever they purchase a participating item.

Singles Day promotions examples
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Product and Bundle Recommendations

‘Tens of Millions of Single Products’
One of Tmall’s directives this year is to create ‘tens of millions of single products‘. This refers to the extra bonus items customers receive when they order. They could simply be a smaller-volume equivalent of the original product, or say, 5 miniature/fun-sized samples. According to Tmall, incorporating extra gifts in your listings has an extremely positive effect on conversion rates. Below are some of the examples they gave us this year for inspiration.

Tmall Single's Day Single SKUs examples

Tmall also provide some guidance around the products you should consider developing for the day. These include exclusive products (items available to Tmall customers only) as well as bundles and packs.

Bundles and packs typically comprise either (i) a bundle of top-selling SKUs or (ii) a hero SKU combined with one or more ‘free gifts’ (as above). It’s important to recognise that Singles Day is a particularly important day for people to purchase gifts for their friends and family. So, it may be worth your while developing a custom gift-pack.

Finally, collaborations are being heavily promoted. Tmall particularly like to see joint-trademark branded SKUs, Tmall branded gift-boxes, as well as Celebrity collaborations.

Article Compiled by Alexander Kelso for RooLife Group, August 2020

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