Singles Day or World Shopping Day or 11.11 — AliExpress’ major sale might be the single most important thing that happened to Russia in this respect. Every year this sale breaks another record in China, Russia and the rest of the world.
Singles Day is the day that everyone needs to be ready for beforehand. Customers gather up wish lists and shopping carts. Marketplaces and online retailers draft up marketing budgets and set KPIs. Banks and payment companies do stress tests, configure anti-fraud
limits, freeze IT releases. Logistics companies double-check their capacities while postal operators clear up physical storage space. It's safe to say that Singles Day is the internet professional Christmas. Black Friday? Oh, that is just an afterparty.
In 2021 largest Russian marketplaces were announcing mind-blowing marketing budgets devoted to supporting Singles Day in
Russia. More than $200 million. Impressive and even slightly suspicious, considering that there were no budgets for this sale for years. Not even from AliExpress itself. Every company involved was scrapping bits and pieces.
There was another surprise this year. No one in Russia was rushing to announce 11.11 sales numbers. First figures appeared in the press a couple of days later from
Ozon and Wildberries, while Russian AliExpress held silence for longer. Finally
announcing: $82 million Ozon, $185 million AliExpress Russia, $1,2 billion WildBerries. Pretty impressive.
The English-speaking press was even less excited. They talked about consumer fatigue, loss of interest, shift to sustainable growth and overall slowing down. 2021 is when 11.11 showed the minimal growth in merchandise sales volume since 2011 — only
(Alibaba’s gross merchandise volume on Singles’ Day from 2011 to 2021 from Statista)
Growth figures could have been influenced by a number of factors: large base effect, state of the economy, great Chinese
inflation, or simply a change in the way the numbers are calculated. However, these factors are simply too boring.
What is more exciting is to speculate about the relationship between the Chinese government and the Chinese tech giants, which includes Alibaba. It could be the government’s antimonopoly actions
and their literal 11.11 related spam-SMS ban that led to very modest advertising. You couple this with the very real Chinese Gen
Z minimalism trend, and there you have it.
Nonetheless, 11.11 is thriving on the Russian market. It finally became a market-wide sales day, not specific to just one company. What is going to happen to 11.11 in China — now that is a big question.