This week marked Singles’ Day – a Chinese holiday run by mega-retailer Alibaba that, while still relatively unknown in the western world, is surpassing Black Friday and Cyber Monday in scale and sales. Alibaba reports it generated US$38.4 billion of gross merchandise volume this year.
The GMV earnings represent a 26 percent increase on 2018. More than 200,000 brands participated in Singles’ Day, and more than a million new products were launched especially for the occasion. This includes Allbirds, which released two special-editions of its signature sneakers.
It created two color combinations for its wool runners – Fiesta Red and Sky Blue – specifically to celebrate 11.11.
“Instead of relying on cheap, polluting synthetics, we utilize natural materials like New Zealand merino wool, Brazilian sugarcane and South African eucalyptus,” said Joey Zwillinger, an American who co-founded Allbirds and shares CEO duties with New Zealander Tim Brown. “While we understand this is a crowded retail time, we also see huge potential to leverage Tmall to educate shoppers on the Allbirds ethos and our commitment to making ‘better things in a better way.’”
New Zealand brands performed well in the sales, with The a2 Milk Company ranked in the top 10 best-selling cross-border brands globally. Nearly 200 brands surpassed RMB100 million (US$14.3 million) in sales, and 15 of those brands surpassed RMB1 billion (US$143.0 million) in GMV.
Top brands included: Apple, Bose, Estée Lauder, Gap, H&M, L’Oréal, Levi’s, MUJI, Nestlé, Nike, Philips, The North Face, Under Armour and Uniqlo.
New Zealand as a whole was the eighth most popular country of origin for Chinese shoppers. Growth in GMV for New Zealand products was 32.9 percent on last year’s event.
“Alibaba is proud to see local New Zealand brands and retailers have another record-breaking year during this year’s festival. Chinese consumers have a strong desire for clean and green products and, as such, New Zealand products are highly regarded. As a result of this, and paired with our enhanced technology and ecosystem, many of the 700 New Zealand brands selling via our Tmall and Tmall Global platforms have seen very strong growth during this year’s event,” says Maggie Zhou, managing director Australia and New Zealand, Alibaba Group.
The best-selling New Zealand brands among Chinese shoppers buying on Singles’ Day were:
- The a2 Milk Company
- Red Seal
- Manuka Health