Shanghai (31, October 2023) – The 2023 Singles’ Day sale remains the biggest shopping event of the year, according to the latest Singles’ Day report from AlixPartners, a global consulting firm. As consumer sentiment is picking back up, nearly half of respondents said they are likely to spend more this year compared to last year, and 62% said they will spend at least 3,000 yuan this year, up 11 percentage points from 2022.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the marquee shopping event, and AlixPartners’ sixth annual survey on Chinese consumer behavior and trends in the leadup to the Singles’ Day shopping festival. Over 2,000 consumers from different regions and demographics across China participated in this survey.
Britton Russell, Partner and Greater China Lead for Consumer & Retail practice at AlixPartners, comments, “2023 marks the first Singles’ Day post-pandemic where consumption returns to ‘normal’ levels. We are seeing stronger sentiment and spending, evidenced by the 18% increase in total spending compared to 2022, more than three times last year’s growth. However, brands need to be more intentional and targeted in order to differentiate and to generate the greatest returns this Singles’ Day.”
Rational consumption drives search for quality over flashy promotion
According to AlixPartners’s survey, consumers are most likely to increase their purchase of daily necessities like general groceries (42%) and loftier categories like clothes, fashion, and accessories (44%), beauty and personal care products (42%), and lifestyle and home furnishings (40%); while luxury goods see the largest decreases in purchase intent (20%).
Britton Russell added, “While value-based shopping is nothing new, consumers are more prudent and knowledgeable about potential purchases than ever before as they seek maximum value with every purchase. They are carefully researching options across channels and platforms to discern true product differentiators beyond reduced price tags, such as product quality and sustainability, that warrant one option over another.”
Products should be front and center in marketing as increasingly sophisticated shoppers consider authenticity and trustworthiness (83%), functionality and durability (82%), materials and quality (80%), and safety and traceability (80%) as top priorities when selecting products.
The latest survey also reveals that livestreaming (46%) and recommendation of key opinion leaders (45%), become the least important considerations for purchase decisions among the 20 surveyed factors, as rationality takes the place of emotional and impulsive purchases.
That being said, an informed, deliberate omni-channel strategy remains critical for brands to engage and resonate with their target customers as they spread their screen time and budget on an average of 5 different platforms this year to find the right deal.
Differentiation is key for foreign brands to compete with local rivals
Chinese brands continue to gain momentum as 66% of customers said they plan to increase spending on Chinese brands, while products originating from all 12 other surveyed counties and regions saw a net decrease in purchase intent. Echoing the rational consumption trend, consumers are increasingly looking for bang-for-the-buck local alternatives as the reputation of Chinese product quality and safety improves. This is particularly true for young shoppers of clothing brands and accessories, where 61% of respondents aged 18-25 plan to increase spending on Chinese clothing, fashion, and accessories this Singles’ Day, the highest among all product categories and age groups.
In the face of growing domestic competition, foreign brands need to clearly showcase their key product advantages to best attract consumers, offering differentiation beyond brand recognition and logo to capture mind share and match price premiums. For foreign fashion, labels that can differentiate from the competition with quality construction, durability, and an authentic, relatable brand and lifestyle story, will entice the Chinese consumer.
One strategy doesn’t fit all senior shoppers
The silver economy is expected to continue to be a growing force behind Singles’ Day. On one hand, there are traditional bargain hunters who mostly buy daily necessities; on the other hand, with the rise of China’s middle class, more affluent senior shoppers are spending on premium products that improve their quality of life, with premium beauty product (42%) & medical & healthcare supplement (37%) among the top 3 categories of this age group.
Word of mouth is highly relevant for senior shoppers, according to AlixPartners’ survey. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of senior shoppers (aged 56 or above) said they are heavily influenced by family and friend recommendations for their purchase decisions, the most of any age group surveyed.
“China has the largest population of shoppers over 60 in the world, representing the country’s fastest-growing age group who is also digitally enabled. In order to win the hearts and minds of customers in this different life stage, retailers need to rethink their product, channel, and marketing strategies in order to cater to the needs and preferences of senior shoppers,” said Britton Russell.
Singles’ Day 2023 presents a new normal for retailers while rational consumption continues to drive new consumer expectations. To make the most of this opportunity, retailers and platforms must adjust to rapidly evolving market dynamics and navigate the competitive landscape to meet consumer needs.
For more survey findings, please click here.
Senior Vice President, Hong Kong