What do you get when you combine the energies of the world’s largest e-commerce company and the world’s most popular pop star? An additional boost to what is the world’s biggest single-day spending phenomenon, organisers of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day hope. This year the day will be lent the considerable star power of Taylor Swift, who will highlight a spectacular show in Shanghai promoting the event. While November 11 is set aside as a holiday in various Western countries as Veterans Day, Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, in China the day is a 24-hour online shopping phenomenon that now outranks Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving once known as the biggest day in shopping.
For more than 10 years the Singles’ Day has surged, and now has assumed a primary position in the history of capitalism and marketing. Last year Alibaba earned a whopping US$30 billion in sales on November 11. This represented over an increase of over 25 per cent on the previous year, which in turn was nearly 40 more than in 2017. The message signaled this year with the inclusion of the ultimate marquee act that Swift – the world’s highest paid celebrity, who has a net worth of US$360 million – is that the online shopping king very much intends to extend its reign and defend its position as the go-to platform for buying all imaginable products and services.
The growingly popular one-day event for spending online takes inspiration from the greatest number of “1”s in the day’s date – 11/11 – as well as the demographic realities of fewer marriages, marriages taking place later in life, growing affluence and IT growth reflected in much of East Asia. The last-minute opportunities available for just an hour more after the clock ticks 11pm on the eleventh day of the eleventh month well represents the enthusiastic nature of the day, and the mushrooming opportunities for digital marketing in a world increasingly getting accustomed to going on shopping sprees while relaxing at home.
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