China has a multitude of online shopping festivals. As a business wanting to tap into China’s ecommerce market, you’ll need to understand the biggest events and develop your marketing strategy accordingly.
Below is a list of China’s largest e-commerce shopping festivals with insights into what they represent and items on offer.
Nian Hyuo Festival / Spring Festival (Jan – Feb)
The entire country goes on 7 days holiday for Chinese New Year and everything comes to a standstill. As such, preparation before the holiday is very important and this period is called the Spring Festival or the Nian Huo Festival.
This is a time of shopping for food, drinks and gifts and generally getting prepared for the Chinese New Year holiday. Two weeks prior to this, E-commerce platforms like JD and Alibaba start major sales, in time for the significant increase in shoppers.
Girls’ and Women’s Day (Mar 7th & 8th)
International Women’s Day on March 8th in China is a time to show love and respect to all women.
Men show their love and treat the women in their lives to gifts, flowers and surprises on this day, often taking them out to dinner or lunch.
Girl’s Day is also celebrated on March 7th with a special focus on female students in schools, universities and colleges.
Suning’s 418 Shopping Festival (Apr 8th)
This is a promotion day especially for home appliances and is organised by Suning.com, the largest online retailer of home appliances in China, with discounts on laptops, phones, tv’s and fridges.
Men’s Festival (Apr 24th – 26th)
A campaign run by Tmall, the Men’s Festival focusses on discounting men’s items such as suits and ties, apparel, health supplements, electronics and cars. Women also purchase for the men in their lives.
Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May)
The value of “filial piety”, or respect for one’s parents and elders, is cherished in China and aligns Mother’s Day with traditional Chinese principals.
This has given rise to many shopping events centred around mothers and treating them well with China’s ecommerce giants, Tmall and JD launching Mother Day themed campaigns.
I Love You Day (May 20th)
The pronunciation of 520 in Mandarin is similar to I Love You, hence why May 20th is known as Valentines Day in China. Like Western Valentines, it’s celebrated typically by couples. However, family and other loved ones are also included.
Xianyu and IFashion, both platforms belonging to Taobao, launched sales campaigns with different tactics. IFashion focussed on products for couples and families with the “520 Expression Day campaign, with Xianyu focussing more on luxury items, cars and artwork at a series of auctions (the largest on the platform) which were endorsed by influencers and celebrities.
Children’s Day (June 1st)
Usually starting from the last week of May, retailers promote items such as clothes, toys, shoes, childcare products and theme park tickets.
This is popular among the post 80’s and 90’s consumers who are tech savvy, have young families and purchase many items online for their children.
JD’s 618 Festival (June 18th)
One of the hottest ecommerce events of the year, JD’s 618 shopping festival rivals that of it’s main competitor Alibaba’s Double 11 Festival, with sales of $25b racked up in 2018.
These promotions are released every year on it’s birthday.
818 Fever Shopping Festival (Aug 18th)
Celebrating it’s anniversary on August 18th, Suning.com started the 818 Fever Shopping Festival.
With a large range of products from home appliances, electronics, smartphones, groceries and finance products, Suning.com offers discounts of up to 50% during the festival.
Not to be outdone, both Tmall and JD started their own campaigns during the same period, offering back to school sales and exclusive discounts.
99 Wine Festival (Sep 1st – 9th)
In Mandarin, wine is pronounced the same as the number 9, giving Alibaba’s Jack Ma an idea in 2016 to flag the dates for a Wine and Spirits festival with Tmall offering specials on wine and other alcohol.
The Double 11 Shopping Festival (Nov 11th)
The biggest shopping extravaganza of them all and the largest in the world is Alibaba’s Double 11 Festival or Singles Day, with sales exceeding $US30b in a 24hour period.
Starting in the 1990’s in Chinese Universities as an “anti-Valentine’s Day” celebration for single people, the commercial opportunity was spotted by Alibaba in 2009 who then went on to launch “Double 11” deals.
It has now become a day where everyone purchases gifts for themselves regardless of their single status.
Black Friday (Nov 29th)
Traditionally an American sales campaign, Black Friday has gained popularity in China with shoppers using cross-border platforms to purchase discounted foreign products.
Marketplaces such as Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) and Ymatou offer sales from late November through to early December.
The Double 12 Shopping Festival (Dec 12th)
Wanting to continue the success of “Double 11, Alibaba launched the Double 12 Shopping Festival and, while it is not as successful as the original promotion to celebrate singles, the figures are still impressive with 322 million ecommerce parcels being generated in a 24 hour period
Christmas (Dec 14th – 25th)
While this is not an official Chinese holiday period many Chinese people still purchase gifts and clothes for the new year.
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