December 10, 2019

The Economic Promise of Singles Day

“The world’s biggest shopping event occurs every year on November 11, and most Americans are only vaguely aware of it. Called Singles Day, shoppers in the US don’t look forward to it the way they anticipate Black Friday or Amazon Prime Day, but maybe they should. After all, the shopping holiday is predicated on the idea of spending money on yourself — a favorite American pastime.

As the name suggests, Singles Day was started as an unofficial celebration of a person’s singledom, founded in the 1990s by Chinese university students. The date selected was 11/11, and is fittingly full of 1’s to symbolize solo living.

Today, the holiday has transformed into a massive one-day shopping event thanks to the deft marketing tactics of Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba. In 2009, the retailer realized Singles Day could be an opportunity to profit from single consumers by providing an occasion to shop for themselves.

The original idea behind the first Singles Day was to promote Alibaba’s shopping marketplace Taobao, according to Forbes. Alibaba offered customers discounts up to 50 percent off from more than 25 merchants and generated about $7 million in sales at the end of the day — a fraction of what the shopping spree has brought in over the past few years.”

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