Numbers (as things settle down) of the Chinese online marathon

14 Nov 2018

However foreseeable, it is still possible to feel the impact resulting from Singles Day's number, which the retailers are now going to examine.

Nielsen, in particular, has published today its research on the so-called "11.11 shopping festival", pointing out several important aspects.

Participation, first of all. Nearly 94% of online consumers in China participated in the digital commerce marathon. Among the many participants, people aged between 18 and 35 were the most active, and also the most subject to impulsive purchasing decisions. Unplanned purchases were made by 56% of online consumers born in the 80s, and 58% of those born in the 1990s.

On average, more than half of consumers (55%) made unplanned purchase decisions and a further 59% changed their original spending priorities due to offers and promotions at the time. This confirms that, although Chinese consumption is increasingly sophisticated and oriented towards the quality of the purchases, price remains the biggest selling point.

Events such as Singles Day are an enormous opportunity for the sale of imported goods, which is of interest to 81% of Chinese online consumers. From China International Import Expo, held in Shanghai at the beginning of the month, there is an indication that imported products of different categories are certainly subject to diversified development phases. However, many of these show higher sales growth rates than domestic products under the same category.

A typical example is children products: sales of imported goods account for almost half (48%) of global sales in China. Imported cosmetics and dairy products are only now developing on the local market; nevertheless, in August 2018 both product gruops grew by 114% and 90% respectively compared to 2017.

In digital commerce, the market share of imported products is much higher than the proportion in offline channels. Looking at the food ! beverage sector, for example, the online share of imported beer, biscuits and milk accounts for around 40% of the category's sales. In offline channels, the same imported products account for only 3%, 18% and 2%.

An important observation concerns the costs and profitability of such events. The merchants who take part invest significantly, especially in terms of labour. Looking at the return on investment (ROI), Nielsen's research shows that the rate of return on brand investments during Singles Day is, on average, one third of the ROI achieved on normal days.

Events like this, however, remain indispensable opportunities for the engagement of new customers through promotions and the launch of new products.