Singles’ Day 2020 once again broke records and continued its dominance of global shopping festivals. Alibaba’s GMV rose 86% in 2020 to hit RMB 498 billion ($71 billion), while JD contributed RMB 272 billion ($39 billion), growing by 33%, to the event’s tally.

Beneath the dazzling numbers, achieving success has proved elusive for all but the most determined brands. As the event evolved over time, it has become increasingly complex for retailers and brands with yearly changes to rules of the game, high cost and resource constraints, dispersion of traffic, and continuing channel conflicts. As our post-survey executive interviews discovered, the leading brands take a big picture perspective of this event, tend to invest significant resources, and can adapt quickly to changes both before and during the event.