If you’re looking for predictions in commerce, a good place to take note is China. And if China’s Singles Day is anything to go by could UK ecommerce in for a similar bumper festive season?

What is Singles Day?

Celebrated on 11th November, it is a Chinese commercial holiday where single people show their pride in being on their own by showering themselves with gifts and presents.  For many years now it has surpassed Black Friday as the biggest online shopping event in the world.

Image Source – Aljazeera

Smashing records

This year singles day has surpassed all previous records with Alibaba stating that a whopping $75bn has been spent compared to last years $35bn.

So what’s led to this gargantuan growth that the UK industry can learn from?

Extended Event

Usually a 24hr event this year’s Singles Day was stretched to a 12 day period, running from 1st November to 12th November. This gave retailers the opportunity to promote the offers to audiences over a longer period of time.

Post COVID upturn

We know that COVID has changed consumer spending behaviour driving it predominantly online. In China, as they start their road to recovery, many consumers have decided to stick to online – having a digital first approach to shopping. Recovery has also driven a hunger for consumers to get back to some kind of normality, or even better, instilled a euphoria to celebrate life and this is born out in spending behaviour.

More Deals

According to Alibaba its Singles Day campaign covered 2 million new products on its platforms, twice the number from last year. Add to that the deeper discounts often up to and beyond 60% China saw a huge audience buying products in bulk to make the most of the great savings.

Luxury purchases

This year saw, for the first time, big luxury global brands getting involved in not only discounting but releasing limited edition products especially for the festival . And shoppers splashed out in abundance.

It has been reported  by many commentators that the fear of death amid COVID-19 may have encouraged many China shoppers to invest in luxury goods. Dr Shirley Li, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University School of Business said “Studies have shown that when we are faced with the risk of death, we tend to follow our heart and just focus on acquiring what we really love or want”

Not only that, a group of consumers have emerged buying high quality products in the premium goods sector, potentially due to excess savings from the inability to travel. China is well known to have a segment of shoppers who travel abroad to bag great deals on luxury products many of whom have been unable to do so this year, so the addition of luxury brands entering Singles Day has been welcomed by this segment.

Image Source – WWD

Live Streaming

Making a big appearance in China over the Singles Day campaign was live streaming commerce. Live Streaming commerce is where shoppers can watch a live stream and purchase in real time through the show. Touted as “QVC for the Digital age”, it is set to be a multibillion pound business.  Live streaming commerce is a huge opportunity for brands to add a new layer of interaction on to online shopping. A channel the western world will surely catch up with into 2021.

Image Source – Forbes


Retailtainment, a new concept is the blend of entertainment with retail – from gaming to virtual concerts, singles day had it all. This creative way to immerse consumers and drive them into a shopping frenzy was at the heart of singles day marketing. This year, we saw livestreamed fashion shows, pre-event concerts featuring Katie Perry and Chinese pop stars and a games immersed into shopping experiences.

Image Source – Retail in Asia


Relevancy is also key during Singles Day campaigning – not only did campaigns tap into the spirit of the event but also did well to show an understanding of core audiences. Collection of data, use of AI and personalisation techniques were highly adopted across all successful singles day campaigns.

It’s clear to see that over the Singles Day Campaign in China marketers used a heady mix of creativity, new techniques, technology and data to ensure they stood head and shoulders ahead in what is a very crowded and competitive marketplace. Global marketers, in particular those from the UK, can learn a lot from the tactics used during this period and even if too late to implement for 2020, should most definitely be in the plan for 2021.