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Six Top Chinese Shopping Festivals You Cannot Miss

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Coresight Research

Key Points

Chinese shoppers respond well to sales and special promotions. Shopping festivals offer enticing opportunities for brands and retailers to drive sales, gain brand recognition and market themselves to Chinese consumers. Here, we discuss the top six Chinese shopping festivals brands and retailers can leverage to reach Chinese consumers. For each shopping festival, we will discuss what it is, why it is important and what brands can do to leverage the opportunity.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, also commonly referred to as Spring Festival, usually falls in late January or early February and is the most important holiday in China. Families gather for meals and other celebrations spread out over days, each generally involving visits to various friends and relatives. The most common gift is a hongbao, a red envelope with cash inside, along with other gifts to family and friends. Chinese consumers usually begin preparing for the festival by buying various items weeks or even a month in advance.

In 2019, retail sales in China during Spring Festival reached over ¥1 trillion, up 8.5% year over year, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

In 2019, brands launched special-edition products for the year of the pig (each year of the 12-year cycle is represented by a different animal in the Chinese zodiac). Nike released a limited-edition Chinese New Year collection that unified patterns of all Chinese zodiac animals onto classic Nike, Jordan Brand and Converse silhouettes.

Nike’s 2019 Chinese New Year Edition
Source: Nike

 

In a previous report Online Retailers Gear Up for Chinese New Year, we featured more examples of promotions on major marketplace websites.

International Women’s Day

Falling on International Women’s Day on March 8, the 3.8 International Women’s Day shopping festival targets female consumers. In China, retailers promote products such as women’s fashion, cosmetics and skincare during the event. We also see brands marketing in advance of the shopping festival. For example, Nike launched a “Just Do It” campaign in late February 2019 as a pre-sales event to boost customer awareness.

Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign
Source: Nike

 

6.18 Shopping Festival

JD.com is the second-largest B2C e-commerce platform in China after Alibaba’s Tmall, and the company celebrates its June 18 anniversary every year by offering promotions. The 6.18 Shopping Festival, which lasts 18 days, was launched in 2010 and has developed into a hugely popular shopping event, similar to Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival (also known as Singles’ Day). While the 6.18 Shopping Festival was created by JD.com, the shopping festival has attracted retailers from across the e-commerce industry.

In 2019, JD.com sales transaction volume during the event reached a record of  , up 18.2% year over year. While Alibaba’s Tmall does not disclose total transaction volume, it did disclose that 110 brands reached around $14.5 million in sales including Apple, L’Oreal, Lancome, Nike and Adidas.

Some brands such as Dyson, L’Occitane and Li-Ning, collaborated with Tmall to create exclusive 6.18 Shopping Festival versions of various products to drive excitement.

Dyson, L’Occitane and Li-Ning’s collaborations with Tmall on limited edition 6.18 Shopping Festival products
Source: Tmall

 

National Day Golden Week
China’s National Day, which falls on October 1, celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. It kicks off a one-week nationwide holiday called Golden Week, during which hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel and shop.

During China’s National Day Golden Week 2018, total sales of retail and food and beverage enterprises in China amounted to $202 billion, up 9.5% year over year, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Brands often offer special discounts during National Day Golden Week. For example, Xiaomi offered special discounts to selected phone models between October 1 and 7, 2018.

Xiaomi promotion during the 2018 China National Day Golden Week
Source: Xiaomi

 

Double 11 Festival

The Singles’ Day Shopping Festival, also known as Double 11 in China, was originally created by a group of Chinese college students to celebrate their singledom. Alibaba started holding sales during the festival in 2009, it gained popularity over time with promotions and deep discounts and has now grown to eclipse Black Friday in sales volume.

In 2018, the total GMV on Alibaba’s various marketplaces hit $30.8 billion in the one-day event, up 27% year over year. In our previous report on Tmall category sales in 2018 Singles’ Day, we also saw that women’s clothing brands can sell up to 65 times more units on Singles’ Day than on an average day.

To maximize sales, brands promote on social media with the help of influencers. Snack brand Three Squirrels featured selected products on Taobao’s live streaming platform the with the help of Chinese girl group SNH48. Customers logging onto Taobao to view the live stream had a chance to win prizes.

Three Squirrels’ influencer marketing on the Taobao live streaming platform (right)
Source: Three Squirrels

 

Double 12 Festival

The 12.12 festival represents an opportunity to clear inventory left after Singles’ Day, and is an end-of-season promotional sale hosted primarily by JD.com, Alibaba and some other marketplaces. The shopping festival lasts four days: December 8-12.

While Alibaba did not disclose sales volumes for the 2018 12.12 Shopping Festival, e-commerce platform Pinduoduo said it saw a 370% increase in the number of purchase orders compared to the previous year.

We see brands offering price discounts. For example, Huawei introduced price discounts of up to for selected phone models.

Huawei 12.12 price discounts for models P9, Honor V8 and Honor 7i
Source: Huawei

 

Key Insights

E-commerce in China represents a highly competitive scene, and can be hard for new participants to enter. The top shopping festivals in China represent huge opportunities for brands and retailers to raise brand awareness and drive sales. Brands and retailers must be ready to take advantage of the shopping festivals China to tap into their full potential.

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