What have Chinese consumers bought during Tmall Double 11, the world’s largest e-commerce shopping event? Which categories are big winners? How much have they spent? Do people regret spending too much? Nearly 70% of respondents were buying “more than last year” (35%) or “same as last year” (33%). Apparel was still the most popular one among physical goods categories. Hotel and video websites were big winners.
Alibaba’s Tmall Double 11 has entered its 10th year. Chinese young people jokingly named November 11 as “Singles Day” many years ago because all digits for this day are the lonesome “1s”. Alibaba Group saw a commercial opportunity and in 2009 launched an online sales festival to “celebrate” the Singles Day.
Many analysts were skeptical about the sales performance for Double 11 this year. Because many people were complaining there were too many e-commerce festivals now in China and the rules for discounts on Double 11, if they did exist, were too complicated to follow.
However, the sales performance held up. Chinese consumers bought goods worth of 213.5 billion yuan in 24 hours on Alibaba’s two e-commerce platforms (B2C Tmall and C2C Taobao), 27% higher than a year ago. Alibaba’s biggest competitor JD.com also sold nearly 160 billion yuan worth of goods from November 1 till 11, an annual increase of 25.7%.
Even though e-commerce retailers continued to break records, the growth rates have inevitably declined. Here are seven findings learned from consumers’ intention and actual purchasing behavior before and after Double 11.
1. Among all respondents, 8% didn’t buy anything on Double 11. The most mentioned reason is “I don’t have anything particular I want to buy” (54%). Only 26% mentioned “there is no real discount on Double 11” while 22% mentioned “too complicated discount terms and policy”.
2. Nearly 70% of respondents were buying “more than last year” (35%) or “same as last year” (33%). There were also 19% buying less than last year.
The actual spending was lower than planned. The mean budget before Double 11 was 3,048 yuan, but the actual mean spending was only 2,657 yuan – 13% lower than planned. Looking into gender differences, male consumers spent 18% less than their plans, while female spent only 8% less than plans. On average, each male consumer spent 320 yuan less than female.
3. Tmall, Taobao, and JD.com have become formidable distant leaders in the e-commerce landscape. Pinduoduo, the social shopping app which gained popularity through WeChat groups, was a fast-rising star.
During the 24 hours of Double 11, 70% of respondents bought through Tmall, followed by Taobao (58%) and JD.com (52%). In the Pre Double 11 survey, five e-commerce platforms were mentioned by between 10% to 20% respondents. But in the Post Double 11 survey, only Suning (9%), VIP.com (8%), and Pinduoduo (8%) were close to 10%. Given Pinduoduo’s short history, it has already made a lot of progress and has been among the second tier e-commerce platforms.
On average, each respondent bought from 2.52 e-commerce platforms, but they mentioned 3.62 platforms in the Pre Double 11 survey. Hence, an e-commerce platform had to edge onto a consumer’s top 3 shopping destination list on Double 11, or it would be in a very weak position.
4. Among physical goods categories, apparel was still the most popular one. 65% of respondents said they’d bought apparel, only 5 percentage points lower than in Pre Double 11 survey.
54% of respondents bought food, which was the second most bought category and the only category whose actual shopping proportion was higher than planned (3 percentage points higher).
Compared with Pre Double 11 survey, many categories had fewer shoppers than expected – big losers being shoes (planned 52% vs. actual 43%), luggage and bags (22% vs. 15%), and toys (21% vs. 12%).
5. Hotel and video websites were big winners. More virtual goods have joined Double 11 to earn a bigger share of consumers’ spending. And it worked out nicely: 21% of respondents bought virtual goods (such as game account credit, software subscription fee, mobile phone bill credit, etc.); 20% of respondents bought services (such as air tickets, hotel nights, gym membership fees, etc.).
Among those who bought virtual goods, video website’s membership was the best seller. 70% of respondents bought it, 4 percentage points higher than Pre Double 11 survey. Among those who bought services, half of them bought hotel rooms while 30% of them bought air tickets.
6. New Retail, which was first promoted by Jack Ma, Alibaba Group founder and Chairman, in 2016, meant the convergence of online, offline, and logistics to better serve consumers in the future. However, only 29% of respondents joined offline sales activities on Double 11, 5 percentage points lower than planned.
7. Generally speaking, Chinese consumers have become more sophisticated and learned how to control their spending wisely. When asked did they feel they’d spent too much on Double 11, 60% said: “I bought just right amount!” Another 15% said “I don’t really care whether it’s too much or too little”. Only 12% regretted. (Female were more likely to regret as it was female 15% vs 9% male.)
This post was originally published on Kantar.com.