What’s the biggest single shopping day – both online and offline – around the world? It’s not Christmas Eve or Boxing Day. It’s not Black Friday or Cyber Monday; it’s much bigger than all of those. It’s Singles Day, which takes place on November 11 each year. The 11.11 date represents four single individuals and the holiday encourages people to take pride in being single, or kickstart their search for love, as well as buying themselves a gift. It’s become an anti-Valentines, ‘treat yourself’ day and its popularity is on the rise.

In China, where it originated in the early 1990s, Singles Day is a huge celebration, with entertainment, singles events and an enormous sales spree. Last year, Alibaba.com made $US1 billion in sales in the first 90 seconds of November 11, with consumers purchasing a total of $US45 billion in goods and services across the 24-hour period. (Not all of them made good decisions: one online shopper was surprised the next day to find out he had purchased a peacock, a pig and a giant salamander!) This year Alibaba is forecasting 500 million customers worldwide will make an online purchase on Singles Day.

New Zealand retailers are getting involved

Now 11.11 is spreading across Southeast Asia and Europe, and its influence is beginning to be felt in New Zealand. Last year 700 New Zealand brands participated in Alibaba’s 11.11 shopping celebrations, including Fonterra, Vogels, Comvita, Antipodes and Ecostore. On Singles Day 2018, Fonterra sold $NZ21.75m across its brands, with over 30 million shoppers visiting its ecommerce sites.

That makes 11.11 a prime opportunity for local brands to launch into China with deals and discounts, as well as targeting Kiwi shoppers who want to take part in this worldwide event. Here in New Zealand, our November 11 sales numbers are not yet showing a Singles Day surge, but we expect the trend to grow over time. Black Friday has steadily made inroads into our consumer consciousness as brands have advertised specials, and that kind of publicity is likely to drive awareness and uptake of Singles Day.  

A good fit with our increasingly single population

One reason this event should thrive? Changing demographics worldwide mean there are more single people than ever before, whether that’s by choice or circumstance. Singles are the fastest-growing demographic throughout the world; marriage rates in New Zealand are at their lowest rate in 50 years and we’re marrying later in life than ever before. The ageing population means there are also more single seniors, whether through separation or death of a partner.

As the number of single people increases, he myth of the sad, lonely single is being busted: mounting scientific evidence shows that coupling up and having kids isn’t necessarily a recipe for happiness. More people are embracing their single status; the popularity of Singles Day fits into this global trend – so expect to see Singles Day becoming more widely known and celebrated in New Zealand and worldwide.

How can local retailers make the most of Singles Day?

Singles Day is an opportunity for Kiwi retailers to draw in new customers. It’s a great time to think about how you can market to New Zealand’s Chinese population and what kind of events might draw single people into your stores. Alibaba and other retailers use draws, competitions and ‘treasure hunts’ to drive online sales. Limited stock offers, collaborations, surprise boxes and member-only deals have also been successful strategies.

Here at Paymark we’ll be keeping a close eye on how many transactions take place on November 11 – will this be the first year where we see a significant bump in sales here in New Zealand? We’ll keep you posted!