Don't be the counterfeit gooseberry on Chinese Singles Day


    - by Stuart Fuller -

    The 11th November is not only a significant date in many Western calendars but is now one of the most anticipated in the story of economic growth in China. Guanggun Jie, or Singles Day has become the biggest online shopping day in the world, overtaking Black Friday and Cyber Monday and each year continues to generate some truly eye-watering numbers.

    In our recession-fuelled quest for a bargain, consumers are today using the full power of the Internet to find the best deals. The growth in E-Commerce now means that the most ambitious brands rather than those with the biggest marketing budgets can compete globally with almost no barriers to entry and irrespective of language considerations.

    That's true for the majority of organisations and markets, but that view actually ignores the world's second largest and fastest growing economy, China. Despite the technological and cultural barriers that challenge the status quo, China is both the biggest opportunity and threat to any and every brand holder who today, irrespective if they have an e-Commerce strategy or not, none more relevant than the 11th November, or Guanggun Jie.

    The concept of Singles Day came from Nanjing University in China during the 1990’s as a day to celebrate being single. They bought small gifts for each other and celebrated their single status. Twenty years later and the sentiment has changed with the day becoming the most important retail day in the calendar, none more so than for eCommerce.

    China’s biggest retailer, and now one of the most valuable brands in the world, is Alibaba. In the first hour of trading on Singles Day 2018 they reported selling over $10bn worth of goods (surpassing $1bn in just 85 seconds), eventually recording over $30bn in sales for the day, up by over $5bn from 2017. In an attempt to “claim the day”, Alibaba actually trademarked the term “Double 11” or "双十一" in 2012, which means that no other party can use the term in their advertising of the day and brought in Mariah Carey to “open” the 2018 event.

    Other companies have now embraced the day, reporting record sales reported record sales. Xiaomi Corp, China’s biggest smartphone vendor reported sales of over 720,000 in the first twelve hours of trading back in 2017. Whilst thousands will enjoy a new smartphone, one man will regret his purchase.

    One Guangzhou resident decided to make a real impression on the lady in his life, spending more than a whole year’s salary on 99 iPhones (worth an estimated $82,000) which he arranged in a heart shape before proposing to his girlfriend in front of work colleagues. She said no.

    More and more non-Chinese brands are now aligning major sales activities to the 11th November with major retailers in Europe starting their big sales in the run up to Christmas on the same day.

    Whilst most retailers will be counting the cash in the till at the end of the day, some consumers will be counting the cost of buying counterfeit or non-existent goods. The traditional warning signs of “if it appears too good to be true, then it probably is” apply more so on days like Singles Day or Cyber Monday where shoppers are desperate to grab a bargain. It is all too easily for cyber criminals to set up authentic looking websites in order to trick unassuming buyers, disappearing just as quickly as they arrived once they have pockets full of cash.

    BrandShelter suggests three golden rules to avoid the Singles Day cyber blues:

    1. Check that the domain name of the website matches the company you are buying from – especially look for homograph letters – mixed script characters that may be used to fool consumers that they are visiting legitimate websites;

    2. Check the domain name details itself. When was it registered, who by and where? Is Has the registrant used a domain privacy service, trying to mask who they are? Use a simple WHOIS tool to find this information out;

    3. Search for reviews on the company in question. What are other shoppers saying about the products and services? Do the reviews look overly good?