US Insights

Consumer Insights from Singles Day 2019

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Retail 11.21.2019 / 09:00

2019 Singles Day event venue full

Kantar experts combine survey data with retail industry trend observation to share consumer trend insights of Singles Day 2019.

For Singles Day 2019, Alibaba announced that its retail platforms have generated 268.4 billion yuan GMV (gross merchandise volume, equivalent to value of orders placed through Alibaba) in one day, an annual growth of 26%. JD.com, whose Singles Day “festival” lasted from November 1 till 11, raked in orders worth of 204.4 billion yuan, an increase of 28% from last year. As usual, Kantar launched a quick nationwide survey on November 12 to collect consumer feedbacks on their behaviour and attitude for Singles Day 2019. Kantar experts combined these data with retail industry trend observation to share the following consumer trend insights of Singles Day 2019.

1. Consumer trend

The Kantar Profiles Network launched a nationwide quick consumer survey for Singles Day through its WeChat platform (note 1). Through the 900 valid answers we collected, only 4 % of respondents didn’t participate the Singles Day event at all. In tier-1 cities, 99% people bought something on that day; it also reached 94% in tier-3 to 5 cities.

The most common spending was “between 501 yuan and 2,000 yuan” (31%) and “between 2,001 yuan and 5,000 yuan” (31%). Nearly one quarter respondents (24%) spent more than 5,000 yuan for Singles Day. Most consumers said they “spent about the right amount of money”. However, 8% regretted they “bought too little”, but 22% regretted “bought too much”.

CN 2019 Singles Day Spending 

Data source: The Kantar Profiles Network

Compared with our pre-Singles Day survey, more people bought from Taobao (Alibaba’s C2C e-commerce platform) than initially thought. Tier-1 and “new tier-1” city (note 2) consumers are more willing to buy from JD.com and Suning than consumers from other city tiers. Taobao is also the most preferred platform to buy Singles Day bargains for lower tier city consumers. Pinduoduo, the independent social e-commerce platform, is a distant leader in the second-tier e-commerce brands.

Live-streaming shopping is the hottest new format in this Singles Day. According to Taobao, 90% of brands have activated live-streaming shopping sessions to engage consumers and sell directly through the show. Kantar Profiles’ survey has also found that nearly 30% of respondents watched at least one live-streaming shopping programme during Singles Day.

Kantar Worldpanel data also showed that younger consumers are more likely to buy from Taobao, watch live-streaming, and join flash sales events. While many consumers complained that the terms for earning a price discount were too complicated and the discount too small, younger consumers have found live-streaming to be a more direct, convenient shopping channel with higher ROI of their time. Increasingly, live-streaming hosts would strike a deal with brands first to be guaranteed that the prices in their shows will be the cheapest for a certain period of time across all sales channels. This is a big drive for young audiences, many of whom are eager to try out premium products, to press the “buy” button during those shows.

Austin Li (李佳琦), the hottest live-streaming host on Taobao, generated 2.187 million buzz on Weibo, according to Kantar Media CIC.

Below is the video clip of Oceanne Zhang, Partner, eCommerce and Omni-Channel, Consulting Division and Vincent Shao, Business Group Director, Kantar Worldpanel China, commenting on the consumer trend.

2. Trend Insights

According to Kantar Profiles’ online survey, apparel, shoes and bags as well as personal care product are still the most popular categories among physical goods. The popularity of services and virtual goods kept rising. The actual buyers of virtual goods are more than initially thought based found in Pre-Singles day survey.

“Video website membership” (78%) is the distant leader among all virtual goods bought on Singles Day, followed by “music app membership” (48%) and “gaming account pop-up” (38%). Thanks to the heavy promotion by Online-To-Offline service apps (O2O apps), “services by physical stores” (55%) is the most mentioned service that respondents bought on Singles Day, followed by “gym membership” (43%) and “offline education services” (36%).

CN 2019 Plan Vs Buy Categories

CN 2019 Service And Virtual Categories

For the hot-selling goods during this year’s Singles Day, Oceanne pointed out that there are six trends:

1. The popularity of goods with strong Chinese cultural elements;

2. The popularity of goods endorsed by the same celebrity, regardless of its category;

3. More sophisticated and professional sports-related goods on the rise;

4. Products with beautiful and artistic designs can attract buyers;

5. White-collar workers who always work overtime are buying new products tailor-made to fit their needs;

6. Sales of pet-related goods keep expanding.

The last trend is well echoed in our survey – 3% of male respondents and 6% of female respondents said they were “buying for my pet(s)”.

Alibaba claimed 500 million consumers joined this year’s online shopping festival, 100 million more from last year. Vincent from Kantar Worldpanel said that “older adult” (45 and above) and lower-tier city consumers are the two major sources of new Singles Day shoppers. “In the previous Singles Days, e-commerce penetration rate would jump 25% from a year ago. This year will be no exception,” he said.

This year, brands have also introduced new digital store formats, technologies or product formats to keep engaging consumers beyond discounts. Tmall enabled brands to build virtual museum on its platform. Cosmetics brands, such as MAC, YSL and Guerlain used AR or VR technologies to allow consumers try out the effects of their cosmetics through smartphones. Many FMCG brands were selling “star product coupons” during Singles Day, which gives big discounts of their best-selling products and deliver to consumers at a later time they designated. “Kantar Worldpanel data showed that the more consumers buy, the more they will consume. So coupons would give brands extra benefits long beyond Singles Day,” Vincent added.

Below is the video clip of Oceanne and Vincent.

3. Chatting with Chatbot

This year, we have also for the first time used WeChat Chatbot to collect consumers’ feedback on their Singles Day experiences. Within one day, we managed to collect both positive and negative feedbacks about Singles Day from nearly 230 consumers. We merged them into “danmaku” flying across the following short video.

Source: Kantar Media CIC, Kantar, Kantar Consulting, Kantar Worldpanel

Editor's Notes

Note 1: The Kantar Profiles Network launched the Post Singles Day survey on November 12 and collected 900 valid answers within one day. Among them, 47% are male; 67% are between 16 - 34 year old; 50% from tier-1 and new tier-1 cities. This year's survey channel is 100% via WeChat and is different from previous years, so there is no cross-year comparison for survey data;

Note 2: Tier-1 cities are: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen; New Tier-1 cities include: Tianjin, Shenyang, Dalian, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Qingdao, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, Dongguan, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi'an;

* Yvette Zhang, Kantar e-commerce consultant, also contributed to this article; 

* To reach the author, or to know more information, data and analysis of China's e-commerce market, please contact us ;

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