11.11 Singles' Day

On 11th November 2017, Singles’ Day – the world’s biggest shopping day – smashed retail records once again. The event which first began as an anti-valentines celebration for single people and has now evolved into a global retail phenomenon. On the Chinese ecommerce website Alibaba alone, a staggering $30.8 billion was spent in just 24 hours – up 27% from 2017. To put that into perspective, that figure is nearly triple what U.S. consumers spent online in 2017 for Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

As UK brands look to expand into the lucrative Asia-Pacific (APAC) market, participating in Singles’ Day has become a key strategy to boost brand awareness. The sheer scale of the market, combined with Chinese consumers’ increasing desire for UK brands and presents a huge opportunity for UK advertisers. However, our recent research found that UK brands are missing a major sales opportunity as only 13% of UK marketers are focused on the China-led sales day.

Anthony Capano, our Managing Director of EMEA said: “In Britain alone, as many as 35% of transactions driven for Rakuten Marketing clients are now taking place overseas. Marketing teams must start focusing on these demographics and carrying out thorough research into local consumer behaviour and trends to inform campaigns. Instead of shying from the international stage, it’s time for UK marketers to invest in seasonal marketing campaigns and Singles’ Day is no exception. It will prove highly rewarding for early movers.”

With more and more retailers participating each year, it is evident that Singles’ Day is starting to have a global influence and we’ve been keeping a close eye on the impact across our UK network. Below are some of the key trends and learnings we have identified this year:

Positive growth

Singles’ Day continues to deliver impressive year-on-year growth across our network. For our display clients, we saw an 88% increase in site revenue YoY and a 199% increase in orders YoY.

In addition, there was a 60% increase in display-influenced revenue YoY and a +95% increase in display-influenced purchases YoY. Prospecting and paid social campaigns also yielded the highest growth.

Diving into our affiliate data, this growth was also apparent with a 34% increase in revenue, a 34% increase in orders and a 29% increase in traffic YoY.

Top performing verticals

As per last year, apparel and accessories continue to reign as the top performing vertical, closely followed by luxury, beauty and personal care. The top five performing retail verticals were as followed:

  1. Apparel & accessories
  2. High-end/luxury stores
  3. Beauty & personal care
  4. Jewellery
  5. Footwear

Top performing publishers

As you’d expect with a discount-driven event, loyalty and rewards publishers drove the most sales followed closely by voucher publishers. After all, Singles’ Day attracts the savviest shoppers who are looking for the best offers. The top five publisher types driving sales were:

  1. Loyalty/Rewards
  2. Coupons/Voucher
  3. Shopping
  4. Sub-network
  5. Service Provider

A global event

Five of the top 10 countries driving sales on our UK network during Singles’ Day were from APAC. It’s evident that our own APAC community and UK shoppers were engaged with the event as the UK remains the top driver of sales. The top five countries driving sales were as follows:

  1. UK
  2. US
  3. South Korea
  4. China
  5. Hong Kong

Cross-channel insights

Drilling further into data from our insights and attribution platform, we identified that a majority of purchases made on Singles’ Day were not impulsive, highlighting the need for brands to generate brand awareness prior to the event. The number of touch points leading to a purchase varied greatly across verticals:

  • Apparel and accessories: 8.3 touchpoints before a purchase
  • Beauty and personal care: 6.8 touchpoints before a purchase
  • Luxury: 24.7 touchpoints before a purchase

We also discovered that Singles’ Day offers an opportunity to capture new customers, in particular, via content publishers and influencers:

  • 67% of high-end/luxury affiliate orders were from new customers
  • 72% of apparel and accessories orders driven by content publishers were from new customers
  • 59% of beauty and personal care orders driven by content publishers were from new customers

Looking forward to 2019

Although Singles’ Day continues to drive growth YoY, it’s becoming more and more competitive as more retailers are opting to take part in what is an already very busy promotional period.

To cut through the noise, James Coggles’, Director, Client Partnerships UK/AU at Dealmoon – a key publisher within the APAC market recommends that brands looking to participate need a compelling offer to entice these savvy shoppers. He says: “There are a number of options to consider with the traditional one being a fixed, sitewide percentage discount. However, working with this community for some years now they react extremely well to spend-and-save tiered promotions, and lucrative ‘Gift With Purchase’s twinned with free shipping.”

When planning your strategy for next year, we recommend that advertisers run strong, unique offers (at least 22% off site-wide). Also, ensure you utilise key APAC cashback and voucher publishers to reach Chinese consumers.

If you’d like to learn more about the APAC market, you can download our latest insights report: The State of e-Commerce: Asia-Pacific. Following research with over 7,000 consumers based in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, the report pulls together consumer trends in order to aid brands in expanding competitively into the APAC market.