Three major shopping holidays originating in the US and China are now extending to the rest of the world, transforming consumers’ shopping habits ahead of the Christmas Season in December. Euromonitor International analysts discuss the impact of Singles day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday in different parts of the world.
Maxine Vogt, Research Associate – Services and Payments
Single’s Day or ‘Guanggun Jie’ is a Chinese online shopping holiday popularised by the ecommerce group Alibaba, in 2009. The 24-hour, so-called “anti-Valentine’s Day” event takes place on 11 November, and its name is literally translated as “bare sticks holiday”, with each ‘1’ in the date, resembling an individual that is alone. Consistently outperforming other Western shopping holidays, Alibaba alone recorded almost USD18 billion in sales in 2016, making this day the largest retail sales day in Asia; a figure almost 40% higher than the revenue of the whole Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend in the US. For the first time in 2016, Alibaba reached out to shoppers in Hong Kong and Taiwan. And the plan in 2017 is to target all of South-East Asia.
With no significant presence outside China, could European retailers take advantage of yet another annual consumption orgy, cashing in on frenzied shoppers looking for a bargain? There are two main barriers to it penetrating the Old continent. Firstly, the date: falling on Armistice Day, a national holiday commemorating the end of First World War in several Western European countries, it may seem somewhat distasteful to run a shopping event in Europe during remembrance services. 11th November is also a public holiday in Poland, celebrating Independence Day. In addition, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still relatively new shopping events in some European markets, such as Italy or Switzerland, where despite an increase in awareness, participation remains low as shoppers seem to have a limited appetite for another new shopping festival in close proximity with Christmas season.
Notwithstanding these barriers, the attractiveness of this multibillion dollar shopping event got the attention of major European retailers. To name a few, UK grocery retailer Sainsbury’s, German cash-and-carry chain Metro, Spanish discounter DIA, Coop Italia, French grocery retailer Carrefour and UK fashion chain Top Shop, already participated in 2016, selling to Chinese consumers through Tmall, a Chinese online retail portal. The acute appetite of Chinese consumers for European goods opened up a significant new sales avenue. Apparently for European consumers though, single isn’t yet the new black.
Hianyang Chan, Senior Research Analyst , Euromonitor International
Australians are avid online consumers and bargain hunters and the concept of online shopping events is increasingly fashionable in the domestic retail environment. We have seen the growing popularity of Alibaba’s ‘11.11 Global Shopping Festival’ in Australia, while smaller sales events such as ‘Click Frenzy’ and ‘Afterpay Day’ continue to captivate consumers by providing steep discounts on products to entice them to purchase more. Amazon’s impending entry into Australia will also likely pave the way for a similar ‘Prime Day’ shopping event that will not only offer localised shopping deals from the most sought-after brands, but also a fulfilling online shopping experience to grapple market share, earn loyalty and most importantly, further alter the way consumers shop.
While consumers are still very much interested with these sales events, the sheer number organised throughout the year has watered down much of the market’s vigour and consumers’ excitement. To remain competitive and relevant, organisers of these events work even more closely with companies and retailers to improve on execution strategies that aim to provide a more inclusive and tailored experience throughout the sales event such as incorporating deep learning technology to roll out new innovations and games to enhance the customer’s shopping experience and offering on-trend product ranges that will entice consumers to purchase. For smaller retail operators with limited omni-channel capabilities, it is an opportunity to tap on these global online pure-players and take advantage of their efficiency in the supply chain process to reach out to a wider and growing online consumer base.
Yu Xian Lim, Senior Research Analyst at Euromonitor International
In Southeast Asia, consumers also look forward to Singles’ Day, a shopping event that originated from Alibaba in China. It has grown to be highly popular in this region due to aggressive marketing and attractive deals from online retailers. Consumers have even evolved the habit of reserving their shopping for big ticket items during Singles’ Day as they can look forward to massive savings.
The focus for Singles Day is typically on ecommerce, with recurring participation from major marketplaces Lazada, Zalora, and foodservice player Foodpanda. However, there is a growing number of small domestic online and physical retailers tapping into this trend which in turn creates a greater marketing effect and increases overall awareness for Singles’ Day.
Chayadi Karim, Research Associate at Euromonitor International
Black Friday and Cyber Monday has been growing in popularity within the SEA region, with Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines leading the pack in awareness and participation. Singapore is definitely the most active participant in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the region.
Among physical retailers in Singapore, Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions have only recently been launched. Most physical retailers have started offering Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts only in 2015, but interest in the event is definitely gaining traction. While there are no official sales figures, there is increasing participation among retailers year on year, and the most popular categories are apparel and electronics. However, despite the increased interest in these events, most physical retailers are still focused on Christmas sales events, as well as the annual Great Singapore Sale in the summer months.
Something interesting to note would be that Singaporeans have been participating in Black Friday sales even before physical retailers began offering it. Singaporeans have been participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on US websites, a practice which continues even till now. Local online retailers have also been quicker in rolling out Black Friday promotions compared to physical retailers as well, and Singaporeans continue to participate in Black Friday sales via online channels.
Taiwan and Philippines
Jocelyn Cheung, Research Analyst at Euromonitor International
In Taiwan, Black Friday was first introduced by RT Mart in 2014. It was a phenomenon success. Since then, over 300,000 shoppers flocked into RT Mart’s 22 outlets across Taiwan each year. RT Mart stepped up promotional sales in 2016, with live broadcast on Facebook began midnight. Black Friday is often launched during festive seasons such as New Year Eve, Hungry Ghost Festival. Number of shoppers surged over 60% each year. Consumer appliances, home care products, tissue and hygiene and packaged food are popular purchased items. Black Friday brings huge crowds in-store and shopping malls in Taiwan. Consumers are irresistible to great bargains and search for holiday purchases with families and relatives.
Thanks to the close proximity with China, consumers in Hong Kong are very attracted and looking forward to shop online on Singles’ Day (or known as Double 11), Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These festivals are very popular among online shoppers in Hong Kong. Alibaba’s C2C, Taobao, is the biggest and most popular e-commerce site in the city and consumers frequently purchase wide range of products from the platform, as prices are often lower than those in physical stores. Inspired by the success of Alibaba’s annual Single’s Day shopping event, this year Hong Kong plans to revitalise retail sales and launch a citywide online-to-offline shopping festival, bringing shoppers to physical stores.
As in the Philippines, consumers actually do not have much awareness on Black Friday, Single’s Days or Cyber Monday. Only a few global brands such as H&M participate and launch promotional sales and campaigns.
Ruby Bui, Research Analyst at Euromonitor International
In Vietnam, Black Friday is more popular event sales compared to Cyber Monday and Singles Day. Not only big retailers launched promotion campaigns during Black Friday but also the specialists retailers and it can last for a week normally with 50-70% discount. Since Black Friday is on Nov- Dec which is also during the sales season in Vietnam, and it will last until Xmas for some big brands. Normally, the sales campaign is for apparels & footwear , electronic devices, home appliances and people tends to buy in both channels online and in store, but personally I think online is more. Some companies that tab into this trends is FPT, Lazada, Vingroup etc
Marília Borges, Research Analyst at Euromonitor International
The Black Friday tradition arrived in Brazil in 2010 and has become the second most important date for the Brazilian retail industry. However, the often aggressive discounts applied onto prices do not allow the increase in sales to be proportional to the volume gain recorded during the Black Friday. In addition, part of Brazilian retailers are now complaining that the Black Friday promotes a flattening onto Christmas sales, the most important date for the retail industry in Brazil, due to the proximity of the two events and the more attractive prices of the former. Hence, there is an initiative to anticipate the Black Friday in Brazil, probably to the month of September, as of 2018. This is an attempt to balance seasonality of sales, boosting a month marked by low volume and preserving sales during the holidays. We expect another strong year for Black Friday in 2017, with sales reaching double-digit growth. This holds especially true for online retail, one of Brazilian’s favorite channels when it comes to buying electronics, the product category most sought for on Black Fridays.
Christy Tawii, Research Analyst at Euromonitor International
When compared to the rest of the world, the concept of Black Friday Season Sale is still fairly new in South Africa. Since 2014, consumers have been embracing the concept. The 24th November 2017 is expected to see snaking queues and extended shopping hours, with both store-based and online retailers jumping on this bandwagon to offer discounted and competitively priced Black Friday deals. The current tough economic environment and poor consumer confidence, has led to consumer demands shifting towards products or retailers offering good value for money. Many retailers will aim to increase footfall into their stores to spend money on Black Friday. Since its inception, retailers have increased their discount bands. From electronics, appliances, grocery, personal accessories and apparel retailers, many are going to be offering discounts of 50% to 80% on various items. Online retailers are also expected to see a surge in online traffic sales. Major online retailers such as Takealot have added a new twist to Black Friday, calling it the Blue Dot Sale. Takealot will offer a limited supply of products on a first come first serve basis, with free deliveries for purchases of more than R250. Massmart’s Makro is expected to extend the sale for the entire weekend of 24 – 26 November, dubbing it as Black Friday Weekend. Other consumer facing entities such as consumer foodservices outlets, travel agents and airlines are also expected to jump onto the Black Friday fever and offer discounts on their products. As a result of Black Friday, South African consumers are changing their purchasing patterns, with many shifting their Christmas shopping to November due to the heaving discounting offered. In 2016, retailers reported slowdown in retail sales growth in December, following the sharp increase in November due to Black Friday sales. Thus, Christmas shopping sales are expected to be affected as a result of the pre-December buying brought on by Black Friday.