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Black Friday To 12.12: A Breakdown Of Online Shopping Festivals And What To Expect From Them

There seems to be some sale ongoing at any point of year. Particularly from August to December, we see e-commerce sites hosting huge shopping festivals each year.

8.8, 9.9, 10.10 and the hugely celebrated 11.11 are just some of the key dates of the online shopping calendar.

The ones that dominate this space are the top three online marketplaces Shopee, Lazada and Qoo10 (in terms of traffic).

But who are the ones that pioneered these sales, and what’s different from each online shopping event?

A Different Purpose

Typically, events such as Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday are all shopping holidays that focus on discounts.

On the other hand, days like 11.11 and 6.18 in China are shopping festivals where consumers come together to enjoy entertainment and new product launches by brands.

Preceding the world’s biggest sale — 11.11 — are the 8.8, 9.9 and 10.10 shopping festivals.

The August 8 shopping festival usually happens on the back of Singapore’s National Day, such as the Lazada National Day Sale.

Lazada 8.8 National Day Sale
Image Credit: Why Not Deals

So far, none of the e-commerce platforms have came forward and claimed that they were the first to launch the sale.

For one, on 8.8, you can expect discounts off local products from homegrown brands, cashback, flash vouchers, freebies, giveaways and contests.

On the entertainment front this year, there was a focus on Singapore-centric content, where shoppers were asked to watch Singaporean shows that give them clues to score virtual vouchers on the app.

On the other hand, the 9.9 sale was first introduced to cater to the rapid growth of the e-commerce industry in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. 

The 9.9 sale is usually the start of the string of year-end sales, marking the start of our year-end shopping spree. Apparently, Shopee pioneered the 9.9 shopping holiday in 2016.

This is when things started to ramp up and get more aggressive, with increased frequency and attractiveness of deals, discounts, flash vouchers, freebies, giveaways and contests.

There is no doubt that you can expect more hype and activity as Shopee will show that they live up to their title as the pioneer.

There are also more buzz around livestreaming shows, engaging in-app games that offer rewards and more.

10.10 Sale
Image Credit: Cardable

Subsequently, the 10.10 shopping festival is where retailers “warm up” before November. Apparently, Qoo10 celebrates its birthday with their 10.10 Birthday Bash.

The 9.9 and 10.10 sales may be used as a strategy to re-engage old consumers or provide a new incentive for new customers to shop with them.

Furthermore, the retailers may leverage on the collective advertising for both sales to create timed shopping moods, while spreading retailer awareness at the same time.

It also helps consumers to plan their holiday shopping earlier so that they do not have to wait until November 11, which may exert pressures on shipping capacities.

The OG Of Online Sales Events

Double 11, also known as “Singles’ Day”, originated as a shopping festival first initiated by Alibaba in 2009, with bachelors using the number “1” to resemble singles.

The hyped-up shopping festival falls on November 11 and is the largest and most popular annual global shopping festival in the world – overshadowing Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Since 2009, other e-commerce platforms have followed suit, all seeking to acquire a share of revenue in the increasingly competitive but lucrative e-commerce marketplace.

2020 Tmall Global Shopping Festival on Singles' Day
A screen shows sales information during the 2020 Tmall Global Shopping Festival on Singles’ Day at a media centre in Hangzhou, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province / Image Credit: AFP

Over this 10-year period, the shopping festival has transformed itself from the celebration of being single, to a nationwide and all-sites-wide shopping fever.

It is the “true OG (original gangster)” of online sale events such as 8.8, 9.9 and 10.10 that had preceded it.

So what can you expect during 11.11?

For one, companies, including some of the biggest brands on the planet, now use 11.11 as a vehicle to launch new products.

It is a fast-paced combination of sales promotions, sales incentives, entertainment, variety and the fear of missing out.

The pre-work that successful brands have to do before a shopping festival to make sure that their brands and their products and their offers are in front of the consumer’s mind is tremendous.

There’s also work that good brands do on the day itself, looking at sales data on a real-time basis and instantly course-correcting so that they maximise that time.

In China, Alibaba’s 11.11 differs from other shopping festivals by how communal it is – not with you as an individual but you as a shared experience with your friends, your colleagues and the key opinion leaders that you follow.

In Singapore, one can expect sales of a similar scale. It is said that Lazada, Alibaba’s Southeast Asian e-commerce business, pioneered 11.11 here.

Similarly to its Chinese equivalent, top influencers are engaged to front campaigns. For instance, Lazada has engaged Korean superstar Lee Min Ho to front its sales campaign this year.

Lee Min Ho for Lazada
Lee Min Ho for Lazada / Image Credit: Lazada

You can play games to win discounts, invite friends to receive more coupons or gifts, expect time-limited flash deals multiple times every day until November 11 and weekly live streams offering more deals.

There are also themed promotions such as free shipping with a minimum of $11 spend, cashback of 11 per cent, $11 deals or discounts of $11.

These features were subsequently adopted by the other shopping festivals as well.

Black Friday And Cyber Monday

On a smaller scale than the bigger shopping festivals in Singapore are Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday falls on November 27, a day after the major US holiday Thanksgiving.

Black Friday
BlackImage Credit: IDEX Online

It typically consists of special shopping deals and heavy discounts and is considered the beginning of the Western holiday shopping season.

Retailers use this day as an opportunity to offer rock-bottom prices on overstock inventory and to offer doorbusters and discounts on seasonal items, such as holiday decorations and typical holiday gifts.

On the other hand, Cyber Monday (November 30) is the first day back to work for many consumers after the long holiday weekend.

It is reportedly created by retailers to encourage people to shop online for several reasons.

For one, many people don’t want to spend time away from family during the holiday just to get a bargain, while others don’t want to wait in the long lines that form on Black Friday.

Cyber Monday
Image Credit: DealNews

Cyber Monday provides consumers with a convenient, hassle-free way to shop and cash in on some great deals.

In Singapore, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are arguably based on 11.11 and are typically not as hyped up as 11.11.

This could be because they are traditionally American occasions, but that doesn’t mean that you should overlook these two shopping days.

While discounts are still offered, you may find more attractive deals on US and UK websites than Singaporean or Chinese websites.

Following Cyber Monday is the 12.12 shopping festival for people who want to get Christmas gifts before it’s too late or for those who have missed the previous sales.

Shopee celebrates its anniversary with its annual 12.12 Birthday Sale and marks its fifth birthday.

If there is anything we have learned in the previous years, it is that there is always a promotion waiting at one place or another.

Marketing Tactics By The E-Commerce Platforms

We would all agree that sale events are marketing strategies to increase revenue.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday typically focus on discounts only while the major shopping festivals are different strategies and tactics by the e-commerce platforms.

The August to October hype helps to build retailer awareness and re-engage customers for the biggest sales in November.

It also helps to “remind” and entice shoppers to purchase an item they have been eyeing since August or October.

Finally, the year-end 12.12 is a “last chance” for those who have missed the previous sales and get their last-minute Christmas gifts.

With e-commerce platforms breaking their sales records every year, these strategies prove to be working very well.

Featured Image Credit: Lazada / Shopee

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