Press Release

Chinese consumers rally for Singles’ Day but plan to shun foreign brands, says AlixPartners’ survey

October 28, 2020
  • 39% plan to spend more than last year, more than double that of those who intend to spend less (15%);
  • 66% say they’ll be buying domestic brands over foreign ones, with 57% planning to spend less on American products and 39% planning to spend less on European ones;
  • Livestreaming is the shopping channel of choice, with only 19% of consumers not planning to shop via livestreaming during the sales.

NEW YORK (October 28, 2020) – Singles’ Day (also known as Double 11 or 11.11) is set to break sales records in China again this year, but the items filling online-shopping carts are more likely to come from domestic brands rather than from overseas brands, according to a new survey and report from AlixPartners, the global consulting firm.

This is the third year that AlixPartners has conducted a survey of Chinese consumers ahead of Singles’ Day (November 11), with more than 2,000 consumers from across China taking part in the research.

Through its research, AlixPartners has found that 39% of Chinese consumers plan to spend more on the Singles’ Day sales this year in comparison to last year. Meanwhile, only 15% plan to spend less, with the majority of these consumers (69%) citing lingering concerns over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy as a reason for this.

Significantly, this year’s survey also found a large preference for domestic Chinese brands, with 66% of Chinese consumers saying that they’ll be looking to buy from domestic brands over foreign ones during this year’s Singles’ Day sales, versus 61% of consumers in AlixPartners’ 2019 survey. The majority of consumers (62% this year, versus 51% in last year’s survey) cited ‘patriotism’ as a primary reason for buying locally.

US brands are set to be the most affected by this shift in consumer behavior, with more than half (57%) of Chinese consumers planning to spend less on American products this year compared to last year. Additionally, 39% of consumers said that they plan to reduce spending on European products.

Overall, clothes, fashion and accessories, shoes and sporting goods, and cosmetics and skincare maintained their rankings as the top-three most popular shopping categories in this year’s survey. A number of consumers also seem to be taking the opportunity to prepare for a continuation of the pandemic, with 33% planning to stock-up on medical supplies, masks, food and other essentials during the sales.

Meanwhile, luxury-goods sales appear to be set to rely on domestic channels this year, too, with 43% of consumers ranking China as one of their top-three destinations for buying luxury products, with countries like France, the United States, Italy, Germany and the UK all behind, not only China, but also Japan and South Korea.

David Garfield, Global Co-leader of the Consumer Products Practice at AlixPartners and a Managing Director at the firm, said, “Singles’ Day 2020 will be a key barometer of how well the immense Chinese market is recovering from the lockdowns of earlier this year and an important indicator as to what the year ahead may hold for other markets. It will also be a test of whether Western brands can take advantage of pent-up demand in China and break through what seems to be a waning love affair with foreign products, even luxury ones. Western brands would be wise to look for ways to make their products not only as attractive as possible, but also as accessible as possible, including through channels such as livestreaming.”

In terms of preferred channels for shopping during this year’s sales, a wide majority (81%) of Chinese consumers indicate that they will be using livestreaming for shopping, with the most-popular reasons for this being the good discounts on offer (38%) and the instant and easily accessible information available through livestreaming (37%). Over the past 12 months, two-thirds (67%) of consumers said they have purchased products via livestreams, with younger consumers and those from smaller, tier-3 and -4 cities leading the way.

About the Report

The AlixPartners report, Eastern Promise: Will Singles’ Day 2020 prove to be a beacon of hope for global retail and brands?, was based on an online survey conducted between September 30 and October 6, 2020. 2,029 Chinese consumers, aged 18 and above, who intend to participate in this year’s Singles’ Day sales took part. All of the regions in China, and all demographics and income levels are represented in the survey. 

About AlixPartners

AlixPartners is a results-driven global consulting firm that specializes in helping businesses successfully address their most complex and critical challenges. Our clients include companies, corporate boards, law firms, investment banks, private equity firms and others. Founded in 1981, AlixPartners is headquartered in New York, and has offices in 25 cities around the world. For more information, visit www.alixpartners.com.

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