Single’s Day

"Did you buy anything?" Alibaba’s TMall Changes How People Greet on Single’s Day

November 11th is the biggest day of the year for Chinese B2C e-commerce giant – TMall, a branch business of the company with the world’s largest IPO - Alibaba Corporation. This date marks a new “holiday” in China called Double 11 or Single’s Day, a Chinese twist of “Single Awareness Day”, which now became the biggest online shopping spree for Chinese consumers. On this special day, people greet each other by asking “did you buy anything?” or “what did you buy?” instead of the usual “did you eat yet?” or “how have you been lately?”

Besides the influence of how consumers interact offline, the 2014 Single’s Day sale on T-Mall also broke a few new records in the digital world:

  • Total transaction reached RMB 57.1 billion ($9.34 billion), a 57.7% increase from 2013’s RMB 36.2 billion.
  • Transaction made on mobile devices accounted for over 45% of the total transaction, a 21% increase from 2013.
  • 278 million orders were placed, including a peak value of 2.8 million orders /min.
Total transaction reached RMB 57.1 billion ($9.34 billion)
Aside from the new records by TMall, there are also a few things branding and marketing professionals could learn from this biggest e-commerce event in China.
Over the past few years, “Double 11” became a national event. For other E-commerce brands such as Jingdong and Suning, who were T-Mall’s two biggest competitors in China, “Double 11” is a big potential source of profits as well.  For example, JingDong organized a “Double 10” campaign in Oct. 10, 2013 that tries to grab customers before its competitors take actions. Suning organized its first “O2O Shopping Festival” in Nov. 2013, taking advantage of its nation-wide chain stores and setting same discounted prices for products both online and offline stores.
In 2014, news were released that TMall has filed to trademark the now popular phrase “Double 11” (双十一) back in 2011 when they first initiated the e-commerce event. This means that any campaign/ communication use of the phrase by its competitors would be regarded illegal. “We hope to make ‘Double 11’ globally known” explained Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Corporation, when talking about the original intention of trademarking the phrase. It is still common that Chinese companies are not very aware of the trademark and intelligence property management. This forward looking perspective to legally protect a part of brand communication is a great advancement for Chinese brands, especially when they plan to enter the global market in the near future.
More story: The Secret of Protecting Your Brand Name in China: the Do’s and Don’ts in Trademark Registration

T-Mall’s “Double 11” sales figure is an interesting topic for Chinese consumers. Following last year’s tradition, TMall’s official Weibo account broadcasted the numbers and striking new records live through a consistent style and design. Each new record is designed in a poster format with the time & number. For example, “3 min, 1 billion in transactions.”
3 min, 1 billion in transactions.
TMall used its classic red color and its mascot – the black cat – in the post. The design employed the popular polygon treatment.
Total transaction reached RMB 57.1 billion ($9.34 billion)
The successful communication was quickly picked up by other brands. For instance, Durex surprised us all with its unique posters on Weibo. As a tribute to T-Mall’s Weibo campaign, Durex also employed its polygon design and figure telling style, but with more intriguing figures. Durex proudly announced its achievement on “Double 11”, claiming that the products sold in its TMall online store had saved RMB 5.6 trillion for couples on child nurturing fee, and condoms sold within an hour on “Double 11” had intercepted 1.3 trillion sperms, which tremendously increased its influence on Weibo.
Durex Copywriter
Durex’s Weibo posts as tributes to T-Mall’s Weibo data announcements.

Weibo is still the most preferred platform for brands, especially for big brands.

By properly joining in a hot topic or initiating a topic themselves, brands could enhance its reputation. Even though WeChat is of the same importance in digital marketing, Weibo is still the biggest national-level information communication and dissemination hub in China. Brands can analyze real responses from customers on Weibo based on key-word searches. Also, thanks to the strict posting rules of Weibo, information there is more accurate, since once rumors are spread over 500 times, the scaremonger would face criminal liability.
Mobile platforms are the next battle fields.
According to TMall’s data, its mobile platform transactions doubled on “Double 11” this year. Online-shoppers no longer care only about buying things, but about their experience of the whole buying process. Shopping on mobile devices such as cellphones or tablets lets them complete the purchase in a more comfortable way, whenever and wherever. In this customer-oriented market, brands need to put more emphasis on perfecting their online-store’s appearance on mobile devices, such as enhancing its UI and adding more user-friendly features especially for touch screens.
According to TMall’s data, its mobile platform transactions doubled on “Double 11” this year



  • Ying Mu

    Vice GM, US