11.11 Singles’ Day in Asia: an unofficial holiday for singles and mass consumption
Singles Day in China — also known as 11.11 or Double 11 — was originally created by online retailer Alibaba to celebrate the unattached, an antithesis to the romantically-involved on Valentine’s Day.
— Justin Harper, BBC News
What does the date 11.11 look like to you? It’s November 11th, an unofficial holiday representing those who are singles. The spaces between the 1s is synonymous with how single they are, and it’s a day to largely celebrate independency and singleness with mass shopping. It started in China from Alibaba, and expanded to parts of Asia. Even in Singapore, I’ve been seeing mass advertisements urging shoppers to buy 50–70% off products online.
Everything is wildly on sale. From vacuum cleaners to lecca clay balls to gin to luxury bags, e-commerce sites have slashed their prices down for this widely anticipated holiday. Celebrities are invited to partake in marketing campaigns and spread the shopping cheer. When I asked my friend what she thought of this event, she told me, “I wait until this day to buy everything during this holiday because that’s when everything is the cheapest. Even toilet paper...and it gets delivered straight to my home.”
This year, Alibaba is encouraging global brands to take advantage of the opportunity to reach consumers online at a time when brick-and-mortar sales have been hurt so significantly by the coronavirus pandemic. Stores, influencers, and brands have been live streaming their products, which has basically become QVC on steroids. For good reason too. With the mass employment layoffs, retrenchments, and volatility of the markets, everyone has been holding their wallets tighter to their side. But that doesn’t stop 11.11 from being a multi-billion dollar shopping holiday this year.
According to TodayOnline, Shopee shared that its sales performance in Singapore outdid last year’s in “record-breaking time.” 2020’s transactions surpassed that of last year. Best selling items in Singapore came from brands like Merries diapers, Innisfree facial masks, and Nintendo Switch consoles.
Across its markets, 200 million items were sold on its platform on the day itself, significantly higher than last year’s 70 million.
Other e-commerce platforms handled the unofficial holiday in other ways. Second-hand marketplace Carousell did an anti-holiday campaign to combat the tsunami wave of consumerism and to reinforce that they have the great 11.11 prices all year round. As a happy user of Carousell, I can attest their amazing prices — I bought an entire dining set (table, bench, and two chairs) valued at $300 for $90 SGD.
Brands in the US have even started picking up on the trend, including Mejuri, new luxury fine jewelry that markets to women who want to buy jewelry for themselves.
Regardless of what stance you have on consumer consumption, you have to hand it to Alibaba for creating an unofficial holiday that has reached farther than Black Friday, and has helped stimulate the world’s economy with shopping.
Emily is a US expat currently living in Singapore to learn about the tech communities growing in Asia. She has worked 4+ years in dev relations, community management, and event marketing within the tech and travel industry. Her time at OmniSci, Google and Booking.com gave her cross-functional expertise. In her free time, she runs the volunteer community initiatives for Singapore Women’s Network, as well as documenting her journey in digital at The Fang Girl.