The annual Chinese online shopping holiday known as Singles Day gets a lot of attention for its success, and that's no surprise when you look at the sales figures. Held each Nov. 11 in the world's most populous nation, last year it accounted for more than $14 billion in online sales. In comparison, last year the combined US online sales for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday were $7.5 billion.
There have been Singles Day sales in America for at least two years, and last year shoppers spent $1.5 billion during the holiday. We do have a lot of singles in the United States—124.5 million, or 50.2% of the adult population—and finding ways to appeal to them makes good business sense.
But to grow this holiday in a way that will appeal to America's singles, retailers need to first understand what made it such a success in China; they also need to be prepared with data and marketing strategies that allow real brand-to-consumer connection.
Retailers saw a giant, underserved market
Singles Day dates to the early 1990s in China, where it originated at Nanjing University. As students graduated and carried the celebration with them into the broader world, raising awareness of just how many singles were out there. Chinese retailers subsequently recognized them as a potentially lucrative market.
American counterparts need to do the same. Singles in the United States carry immense buying power—more than half a trillion dollars just among those age 35-54, according to TPN—and our retailers could do a better job of acknowledging and specifically targeting this segment in their own marketing efforts.
The holiday treats singles with respect
The focus of Singles Day isn't on providing solace for people because they are single. Instead, retailers present it as an opportunity for singles to pamper themselves, hang out with friends, and exchange gifts. American lifestyle and entertainment brands, such as Apple, Nike, and Disney, have shown they understand this approach; accordingly, they perform well during the Chinese holiday.