To tap into the Chinese e-commerce market, it is essential to know what are the most famous online shopping festivals. Chinese shoppers respond strongly to sales and special promotions. Shopping festivals offer great opportunities for foreign businesses wanting to achieve higher sales, gain brand recognition, increase brand awareness, and market themselves towards Chinese consumers.
Numerous shopping festivals take place throughout the year in China which contributes to the maximum growth not only for marketplaces but also for local and foreign brands. Therefore, it is essential to know what are the most important Chinese shopping festivals? What are the opportunities for brands? How can a brand maximize its sales on Chinese platforms during Chinese shopping festivals?
What is the 6.18 Shopping Festival?
6.18 Shopping festival represents the date of June 18, or better the day of the foundation of the second e-commerce platform in China after Alibaba, that is JD.com.
Founded on June 18th, 1998, JD rolls out promotions every year on its birthday. JD’s 6.18 has developed into a big affair on a par with Alibaba’s Double 11 Festival. As a matter of fact, in the 2019 edition, 31.53 billion dollars of orders were reached on JD with an increase of 26.57% compared to the previous year. In the first minute of the campaign, sales of beauty products exceeded 100 million yuan.
This party lasts 18 days, and despite being launched by JD.com, it is now celebrated throughout the e-commerce sector, also by other marketplaces like Tmall.
In 2019 on Tmall only one hour after the start of the promotion, the sales of creams for the eye area, lipsticks, and perfumes increased by 300%, 239%, and 290% respectively.
Alibaba’s 6.18 Shopping Campaign in 2020
Alibaba’s 6.18 Shopping Campaign Presales
Alibaba’s 6.18 shopping festival is an important commercial event aimed at fueling the post-pandemic economic recovery in China.
This year, Tmall 6.18 started pre-sale of goods from May 25 and began formal sales from June 1. The 618 campaign will continue till June 20.
According to Alizila news from Alibaba group, this year’s campaign will feature promotions from 100,000 brands on Tmall, from Apple and Microsoft to Chanel and Balenciaga. Through the campaign, Alibaba is looking to leverage its ecosystem to help businesses recover from pandemic impact and speed up their digital transformation.
Tmall 6.18 has already boomed at the official launch on May 25th. The pre-sale turnover in the first hour has increased by five times compared to the previous year. Consumer electronics, home furnishing took the lead by achieving 100 million sales in the first 7 minutes, and beauty category sales exceeded RMB500 million ($69.94 million).
Tmall 6.18 has become an important channel where new products and new brands make their stage debut. It is reported that more than 2 million new products will be released at this year’s Tmall 6.18.
According to Alibaba’s latest financial report, in March 2020, Taobao ’s monthly active users reached 846 million. The epidemic has strengthened people’s online shopping habits and 95% of consumers said they would participate in 6.18 shopping festivals.
Tmall 3D Consumers Shopping Experience
This week Tmall officially launched its 3D shopping feature which creates an immersive and interactive e-commerce experience that replicates many of the in-store shopping elements.
The 3D shopping feature is expected to help retailers with physical stores that are still closed due to the coronavirus epidemic. The technology will also be used by many brands participating in the 6.18 shopping festival.
With just their phones, consumers can browse the 3D showrooms of over 100 brands. Among them is IKEA, which presented an online version of one of its Shanghai stores. The first 3D live shopping technology launched allows customers to visit IKEA at home.
10,000 offline stores will make Taobao live streaming. Customers will place the order in the morning and the goods will be shipped and will arrive on the same day. An amazing marketing idea to be taken into consideration to increase sales.
Shopping Coupons and discounts
China is taking a new approach to reviving its economy, sowing digital coupons with consumers to encourage spending on everything from shopping to luxury goods.
Thanks to their flexibility and easy-to-implement nature, digital coupons are used to stimulate a recovery by actors from different sectors in the public and private sectors.
For example, during the Labor Day holidays from May 1st to 5th, many of Alibaba’s platforms, including Taobao, Fliggy and Ele.me, issued coupons, covering everything from takeaway food orders to travel and stays in hotel. These coupons are also expected to become a key part of Tmall upcoming 6.18 shopping festival.
In terms of coupons, Tmall’s 10 billion coupons and consumer subsidies will maximize consumer enthusiasm for shopping. For brands, it is the biggest growth opportunity in the first half of the year.
In terms of discounts, the dealers of Tmall 618 have shown great collaboration through car discounted by 50% every day and 100 luxury goods with a discount.
China Live streaming and Key Opinion Leaders
Taobao Live, Alibaba Group’s flagship live streaming channel in China, has seen its gross merchandise volume grow by 150%. Part of this achievement can be attributed to the fact that Taobao Live has a dedicated portal for matching brands with livestream hosts like KOLs to promote products.
This year, brands have stepped up the use of new retail technologies to improve the shopping experience, including live streaming. More than 10,000 physical stores and 50,000 retailers are expected to Livestream on Alibaba’s platforms during 6.18.
At this year’s Tmall 6.18, there will be a great growth in Taobao’s live streaming:
- more than 300 stars and KOLs will participate in Taobao-livestreaming
- over 600 CEOs will take part in live streaming to promote sales.
The most important shopping festivals in China
The Nian Huo/ Chinese new year shopping festival (January-February)
This holiday represents a great opportunity for brands because, before the Chinese New Year, people buy gifts for family members and friends.
In fact, the festival refers to the period before the holiday when people are shopping and getting prepared. E-commerce platforms like Alibaba and JD, always start mega-sales 2 weeks before it.
This festival has now become a special marketing event for e-commerce businesses.
During the Chinese New Year, food and drinks are the most popular categories, clothing and electronics, and gifts for children who follow home appliances. Sales revenue during the Spring Festival period in 2019 was RMB 1,005 trillion.
The Chinese New Year sales festival is celebrated on all e-commerce platforms, like Alibaba and JD, that is committed to launching special promotional campaigns.
Valentine’s Day (February 14th)
Although it originated in the West, February 14th has become an increasingly popular day not only for couples in China but also for some single people. Beauty products, bags, accessories, skin products, and make-up are bought on tmall, jumei, and other Chinese platforms.
Girls’ Day and Women’s Day (March 7th-8th)
Chinese female shoppers represent a huge market, therefore online retailers have ramped up promotional events on the day to capture the interests of China’s female shoppers. E-commerce platforms also joined the trend and started sales with related themes, such as Tmall’s Queen Festival, JD’s Butterfly Festival, Suning’s Girl Friends’ Day and Jumei’s Goddess Festival.
Suning’s 418 shopping festival (April 18th)
Suning.com, the largest online retailer of home appliances in China, has chosen Apr 8th as a promotion day for home appliances and electronics. Items such as smart televisions, refrigerators, laptops, and smartphones are discounted.
The men’s festival (April 24th-26th)
Men’s Festival is one of Tmall’s key campaigns. Discounts are offered on apparel, suits and ties, skincare items, healthcare supplements, electronics, and even automobiles. It also encourages women to purchase items for men.
Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May)
This day fits very well into traditional Chinese culture and has given rise to extensive shopping events for Mother’s Day.
For example, Tmall organized a “Love your mother and give her the best” themed promotion, and JD organized a campaign focused on treating mothers, with advice on how to make mothers happy.
520 (May 20th)
In Mandarin, the pronunciation of “520” is similar to “I love you” (我爱你). Therefore, this festival is also known as China’s Valentine’s Day.
To celebrate this event there are many brands, especially luxury brands, to create original campaigns, discounts, and limited-edition products.
Well-known brands that have collaborated with Chinese celebrities for the 520 are Gucci, Louis Vuitton with his campaign with the well-known KOL Austin Li and Prada who launched the “mathematic Love” campaign on Chinese social networks together with the Chinese idol and singer Kun.
Children’s Day (June 1st)
Children’s Day has recently become a popular shopping festival, with promotions beginning at the end of May and lasting through the first week of June. Advertising during Children’s Day is mostly geared towards parents, who are increasingly expected to buy gifts for the event.
Products on sale during Children’s Day include items such as toys, board games, children’s wear, and children’s shoes.
818 Fever shopping festival (August 18th)
Suning.com, the top online marketplace in China specializing in electronics, established the 818 Fever Shopping Festival to celebrate its anniversary on Aug 18th.
The best-selling categories are home appliances, groceries, smartphones, and finance products. These are discounted up to 50% during the festival.
Tmall and JD.com also joined the game by launching back-to-school sales campaigns and member-exclusive discounts during the same period.
9.9 Wine Festival (September 1st-9th)
Previously confined to the realm of gifts among businessmen, wine has become increasingly popular in China, particularly among Chinese millennials and the upper-middle class. Therefore, the 9.9 Wine festival is a good chance for brands to boosts their sales on Tmall e-commerce platform.
The number “9” has the same pronunciation as wine in Mandarin. During the day promotion, Tmall offers good deals for wine, Chinese Baijiu, and other alcohol.
Singles’ Day/Double Eleven (November 11th)
Singles Day or Double 11 is the shopping festival par excellence. November 11th is the date for Alibaba’s annual mega sale, which has now become the largest shopping party in the world.
In 2019, Alibaba said its gross merchandise volume for the entire event was 268.4 billion yuan ($ 38.4 billion), an increase of 26% over the previous year.
The opening of the Single Day was celebrated with a sumptuous concert held in Hangzhou and broadcast in livestreaming. Numerous celebrities performed during the event including the famous American singer Taylor Swift and the pop icon of Asia GEM.
Red Friday (Black Friday)
Chinese shoppers use the occasion to buy discounted foreign products through cross-border e-commerce platforms, like Xiaohongshu (“Little Red Book”), Kaola and Tmall global.
Double Twelve (December 12th)
Extending the success of the Double 11 Festival, Alibaba launched the Double 12 Shopping Festival to cater to customers who were still hungry for deals after Double 11.
This is an end-of-season promotional sale hosted mainly by Alibaba but also implemented by other marketplaces such as JD.com. The event usually lasts four days, from 8th to 12th December.
Being close to the Christmas holidays, it represents the possibility for consumers to take advantage of promotions and buy products that they have not managed to obtain during the Single Day. Last year, over 5 million consumers and gross volume attended the event total merchandise generated increased by 41%.
Christmas (December 14th-25th)
Christmas has become increasingly popular in China, and most large cities are rife with festive decorations in the second half of December. Although Chinese people might not be super-passionate about the festival itself, many of them buy gifts and new clothes for the new year.
Most online retailers providing promotions and sales during the Christmas period, helping Alibaba beat forecasts with a 32 percent rise in third-quarter revenue last year.
eCommerce Opportunities that must not be missed
Chinese consumers usually spend most of their time online shopping and during these shopping holidays Chinese users spend hours and hours on marketplace platforms to buy products at affordable prices and find the bargain of life.
China’s e-commerce market provides plentiful opportunities, with major shopping festivals occurring on an almost monthly basis. Shopping festivals in China are a good opportunity for marketplaces and foreign brands to increase sales and increase their popularity in the competitive Chinese market.
However, due to the strong competition, it can be difficult for new participants to penetrate. In addition, to highlight and attract the attention of users it is necessary to launch very creative and ingenious promotions and campaigns.
Foreign companies should study e-commerce festivals in China well, because detailed marketing strategies allow them to reach valuable consumers.
How to maximize your sales during Chinese shopping festivals?
Before starting a sales campaign on Chinese e-commerce platforms, there are steps to be taken to maximize your sales on these platforms.
Branding in China
Branding strategy is a crucial phase in creating an evocative and popular brand. Especially in China, a good Branding strategy will lead your company to build a prestigious and high qualitative image that can help you overtake local brands and gain a competitive edge over foreign competitors.
To reach Chinese consumers and increase brand awareness a brand should follow some steps.
Creating a Chinese version of your company’s website should be one of the first steps of your marketing strategy. A website tailored to the Chinese consumer will offer credibility to your brand as consumers search for products on Baidu.
The language of your website should be in Chinese because if you want to ensure that your brand message is understandable from Chinese consumers.
In addition, Chinese consumers are looking for a site with a lot of information, as opposed to the simple layout of western websites.
- Baidu SEO & SEM
A brand should create a Chinese website on Baidu, hosted on locals servers. Why? Because they are extremely important for your SEO ranking.
In fact, in China, the most used search engines are Baidu with close to 70% of the users using it for their researches.
In addition, a brand should take advantage of Baidu SEM tools. Baidu is the first choice for an advertising campaign to reach Chinese consumers.
- Tracking Your Website
To get a better understanding of how your product or marketing campaigns are going, it is essential to keep track of your website. Baidu Tongji and Baidu Zhanzhang are Chinese alternatives to Google Analytics, they offer similar free web analysis and reporting tools.
Social media management
In 2019 there were approximately 673.5 million social media users in China. This makes China the largest social media market in the world, with people increasingly addicted to these platforms. They use them to look for a place to share their opinions, ask for product advice, and connect with others.
Global brands wishing to consolidate their presence on the Chinese market should keep attention on what is happening with these platforms.
The Key opinion leaders (KOLs) also play an important role in social media marketing for the promotion of the brand.
The most famous social media platforms that a brand should know to increase brand awareness in China are Wechat, Weibo, Douyin, Youku, QQ, Baidu Tieba, Zhihu, Toutiao, Meituan Dianping, and Momo.
To know more about the social media platforms in China click on the following link:
KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) partnership
Key opinion leaders are well trusted by the internet user and a partnership with a KOL that fit the brand’s products and values could mean an immediate gain of popularity and peoples starting to get interested in your brand. You can work with them throughout different channels and a variety of campaigns for a review, a product placement, a banner, a video. It will depend on both your budget and your products.
Ask us for our eCommerce Solutions in China
Do you want to know more about How to use Chinese e-commerce platforms to boost sales? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, specialized in the Chinese digital market.