What is Singles' Day and how is it celebrated?

SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 20: Alibaba Group launches 2021 Tmall 11.11 Global Shopping Festival on October 20, 2021 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 20: Alibaba Group launches 2021 Tmall 11.11 Global Shopping Festival on October 20, 2021 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

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You’ve heard of Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day, but do you know what is Singles’ Day? It’s the world’s biggest shopping event that is celebrated every year on 11 November, manufactured by technology company Alibaba.

Singles’ Day became widely accepted when Alibaba launched its first shopping festival in 2009, which is now re-branded as 11.11. According to Forbes, Alibaba only launched with 27 brands on its platform in 2009, but now boasts over 200,000 participating international and local brands in 2019.

As the name suggests, Singles’ Day was coined by Chinese university students in the 1990s to unofficially celebrate a person’s singledom. The 1’s symbolise solo living and experiences.

However, Chinese couples have begun celebrating Singles’ Day the unconventional way – by getting married. Take for example in 2011, 4,000 couples got married in Beijing, China, with 11.11 deemed to be an auspicious date.

Singles’ Day has also been paving way for other non-shopping traditions such as blind date parties, which in turn, is morphing into a Chinese Valentine’s Day celebration.

To gain international headlines, Alibaba has been signing up US celebrities like singer Taylor Swift to headline its concert for Singles’ Day in Shanghai in 2019 and last year, TV reality show actress Kim Kardashian even promoted her perfume brand on Alibaba to consumers. This year, K-pop group Seventeen will be joining e-commerce platform Lazada as its latest brand ambassadors.

Although 11 November marks Singles’ Day, the Chinese government does not formally recognise the day as a national holiday. But this doesn’t stop millions of Chinese consumers from tuning in online and buying various items such as smartphones, TVs and even cars.

While Chinese consumers shop mainly on Alibaba’s main websites Tmall and Taobao, international shoppers like us in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines would gravitate towards and Lazada.

In Southeast Asia, Lazada celebrates its ninth year by kicking off this year’s 11.11 with tons of brands and sellers participating in its biggest one-day sale.

Shoppers can look forward to a star-studded countdown concert with the 11.11 Super Show virtual concert on 10 November; a Chief Discount Officer (CDO) King segment featuring Lazada Singapore’s CDO Royce Lee alongside popular local personalities including Wang Lei, Jasper Lai, Xixi and more, to share the best ‘lobangs’ that 11.11 has to offer; a Guess It livestream; and games.

Armed with a credit card and mobile or digital devices, consumers have been marking yet another shopping holiday event to find the biggest deals and incentives. At the end of the day, consumers are kings and queens as they pour millions of transactions on these various e-commerce platforms, marking a life of turbo consumerism.