Reinventing a Holiday:
Singles Day
Singles Day is originally based on the holiday “Bachelor’s Day,” which was created in the 1990s in China as a response to Valentine’s Day. Singles Day, which is celebrated on 11/11, promotes the idea of splurging on gifts for yourself, not your loved ones, and celebrates being single. In addition to online commerce, Singles Day is also a holiday on which young singles organize parties and Karaoke to meet new people and reconnect with friends. Alibaba Group, the largest e-commerce company in China, reinvented this holiday in 2009 by spinning off of a holiday created in the 1990s and has since received unprecedented online success. Their method of taking a familiar holiday and twisting it to promote a day of online gluttony may sound similar to America’s Cyber Monday but Singles Day has one key difference: the giving is to yourself. In the past years, Singles Day has surpassed Black Friday as the most lucrative online shopping day of the year, grossing more than 9 billion dollars in 2014. Alibaba’s manufactured holiday has managed to create a cultural as well as economic shift in China’s spending and is only set to become more successful in the future. However, Alibaba is also placed under a great deal of strain on this day in November, as they are responsible for delivering all of the packages ordered on Singles Day. CEO Jack Ma expressed concern in an interview with CNBC about Alibaba’s ability to deliver all of the packages ordered on Singles Day, a figure which leaps from on average 17 million packages a day to 260 million over the course of three to five days. Singles Day sales have increased by a staggering 5,740% from 2009 to 2013 and this year it surpassed the expectations of industry tracker IDC with its revenue of over 9 billion dollars. This is a significantly more impressive figure than the 2.9 billion dollars spent globally online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2013, even though these holidays span a long weekend. However, Singles Day has yet to live up to the entire U.S. holiday shopping season, which grossed sales of more than 48 billion dollars in November and December 2013. The pace at which Singles Day is growing is something that makes it unique in its development. A factor in its growth is Alibaba’s recent inclusion of foreign brands such as Costco Wholesale and Tesla Motors in its Singles Day campaign and its permission for these brands to communicate directly with Chinese consumers through its network. This year, Singles Day reached consumers in 220 countries and Alibaba CEO Ma anticipates that this figure will grow to such an extent that Singles Day will become a global holiday within five years. Singles Day was able to enter into Chinese culture so successfully because it is a reinvention of a previously established holiday in China. Chinese consumers were familiar with the concept of a day to celebrate bachelors and Alibaba has been able to play on this idea to create a day of online commerce. On a global scale, Singles Day is the antithesis of Valentine’s Day, a well-established holiday, and is thus more easily integrated into the minds of global consumers. Alibaba has been able to utilise familiar traditions and change them to reflect the increasingly online market, a talent for which he is now reaping rewards.

  • Richard

    I agree. A wise businessman in the Caribbean named Sir Kyffin Simpson always said that the key to success is progression and humility, and clearly he’s done very well for himself as a self made man!

  • John Andrews

    The Airgain IPO launches this week, and they’re a one-brand company.

    Some investors don’t think it’s a good stock though:

  • Cincinnati World Cinema

    Well said, Joe, and worth rereading on a regular basis! Another advantage of small-to-midsize city living is pace and competition. Living in NYC, LA and SF entailed a hectic pace, hallmarked by capital S striving, as one realized there were a ton of others doing what I do. Spending so much time in one’s car in SoCal meant much less time for quality pursuits and pleasures. A smaller pond with relaxed pace allows one to savor life and special moments.

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