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The Globalization Of Local Holidays: China’s Singles’ Day Catches On In US


Christmas. Hannukah. Kwanzaa. Festivus. As e-commerce retailers are in the throes of prime holiday shopping bidding wars, there may be a case to add even more holidays to our plans.

If you’re a marketer, you probably took note of the news that November 11, China’s Singles’ Day, broke worldwide sales records with $14.3 billion in gross sales — equivalent to seven times the volume Cyber Monday generated in 2014.

We were curious about the impact this Chinese event may have had on our US stats, so data scientists at Bing Ads (my employer) dug into the numbers. The information they found tells three significant stories:

1. Cross-Border Search And E-Commerce Know No Boundaries

Singles’ Day is an event specific to China, yet it is making inroads in the US, as Chinese living in the US or Chinese Americans also embrace the shopping holiday.

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In recent years, the US exported a shopping event specific to our country, Black Friday, to the United Kingdom. Black Friday is now firmly established as part of the British retail calendar.

How To Take Action

China’s Singles’ Day is a day of shopping much like our Cyber Monday. Because of the general nature of the holiday (any retail is desired!), all retail search marketers in the US can experiment with promotions to a targeted location where a higher population of Chinese Americans live. These cities include:

  • San Francisco, CA (21 percent of population)
  • Honolulu, HI (10 percent of population)
  • Oakland, CA (9 percent of population)
  • San Jose, CA (7 percent of population)
  • New York City, NY (6 percent of population)
  • Plano, TX (5 percent of population)

For many of us search marketers, this may be the first time we’ve willfully targeted Plano, Texas (which is a suburb of Dallas).

2. CTR Spiked On China’s Singles’ Day On Bing Ads

Do we really need a bigger lead-in to holiday spending? It doesn’t matter — China’s Singles’ Day brings it regardless.

CTR on Bing Ads increased 54 percent to 82 percent on Nov. 11 and Nov. 12. This is an increase on the same level as traditional US holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

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How To Take Action

Actively plan for China’s Singles’ Day in 2016, with US offers, deals and events targeted to Chinese Americans. This shopping day falls on a Friday next year, which could mean higher CTR for entertainment such as movies, restaurants and shows.

3. Bing Queries Related To China’s Singles’ Day Grew 28% Year Over Year

For the first time this year, Vivian Li, Bing Ads’ Senior Data Scientist and a Chinese American, received email promotions around the holiday.

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“I think that US advertisers who also have a presence in China are getting smart about reaching the Chinese audience in the US. Since they are very attuned to the day in China, it’s making them think about the potential here. These advertisers have an advantage over others who are less aware,” said Li.

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How To Take Action

The advantage of selling in the United States is that the population is incredibly diverse and brings with it cultural events and celebrations from all over the world. China’s Singles’ Day growth in the US is an indication of the potential for adding retail holidays from other countries to your calendar. Diwali for the Indian American community would be another example.

Create a calendar that accommodates the major holidays worldwide, and implement a strategy that targets relevant populations at the right time.

In Summary

This year, Singles’ Day was heavily promoted by Alibaba, the Chinese online marketplace similar to Amazon. Bing saw a spike in queries for the term “Alibaba,” where deep discounts and deals were offered for the special shopping day.

In the absence of a single marketplace in the US that would dominate Singles’ Day sales, this shopping day is free game for all retailers.

Did you see any uptick in sales on Nov. 11 and 12 this year? We’d love to hear about it.

 

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