10 years ago in 2010 China counted 138 million Online buyers. Fast forward to 2020 and this number is expected to be 894 million!
On top of that China’s domestic and cross-border e-commerce growth continues to outpace retail sales growth. Data from the first 9 months of 2019 showed retail sales grew 8% year-on-year, whereas e-commerce sales grew 17% over the same period. In 2020 e-commerce sales are expected to reach 30% of retail sales, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. This once again underscores the importance of the online channel, in both creating and capturing demand.
In this fast-growing consumer market, whether you are planning on entering the market in 2020 or you are already competing for consumers attention, being knowledgeable about the different kinds of e-commerce holidays is critical. Brands should be ready to take advantage of these shopping holidays when Chinese consumers are actively looking to spend money online.
AgencyChina has put together your 2020 China E-commerce Calendar to help you identify critical e-commerce shopping festivals to focus on, and to prompt deeper thinking about content and sales rhythms.
(Download your 2020 China E-commerce Calendar at the bottom of the article!)
January: Chinese New Year
The Year of the Rat is upon us, starting January 25th already this year. So, true to the speedy, scamper nature of rats, you’ll have to be quick to get your marketing assets in place for January. Various brands have already been quick to launch specially-designed products, includes themed luxury watches, sneakers and apparel.
February: Valentine’s Day
Chinese couples grasp at every opportunity to express their love for each other. And even though February 14th is originally a Western holiday, China has adopted it is one of their many days to celebrate love which is why it should be on your 2020 China E-commerce Calendar. It is a good opportunity for brands to promote products that represent love or presents that show how much the couples care for each other. Every year, interactive campaigns become more sophisticated, raising the bar for marketers and their interpretation of love, care and affection in the Chinese context.
March: Women’s Day
The real competition among e-commerce platform starts from International Women’s day on March 8th. As a result of the increasing consumption power in China, different e-commerce platforms have created their own campaign in recent years to celebrate this day. Tmall has it’s “Queen day” (天猫女王节) which runs for about 2 weeks. And JD launched “JD butterfly day (京东蝴蝶节）which focuses on cosmetics and focuses on new products, coupons and red envelopes from March 1 – March 13. For luxury brands, International Women’s Day has become the focus of female empowerment. Some applaud women who who treat themselves, while other brands pick brand ambassadors who Chinese women look up to. A few years back Lancôme created a campaign called ‘Unafraid of Age, Speak Up Bravely’, with 3 famous actresses of various ages sharing their definition of bravery. And of course offering the consumers a chance to win a product of their youth activation line.
April: Tomb Sweeping Day
To commemorate their ancestors Chinese people get 3 days’ holidays around the 4th of April for the so called Ching Ming Festival. They visit and maintaining the graves and burn “sacrificial money” in honour of the dead. Hence, the festival has evolved into an occasion for people to go on a 1- or 2-days trip back home or for the younger generations to holiday destinations close by. For brands it is important to coordinate promotional campaigns accordingly. Promoting short-distance travel packages, travel-related products and sportswear about a month in advance is likely to bring additional traffic. Especially when targeting China’s younger generation, hiking trips or sports related activities are popular during this time of year.
May 20th or 520 is known as the modern-day Valentine’s Day in China because “Five Two Zero” in Chinese sounds like “I love you”. Traditionally this day, like Valentine’s Day, is based on the tradition of men showing their love for women through gifts. The best audience for marketers to target is still men born post ‘80s and ‘90s searching for the perfect gift for their partner.
However, e-commerce players have taken expressions of love further, focusing on love between family members. For instance, giving the best to infants and toddlers has been a recurring theme over the last two years.
June: Children’s Day
On the first of June China celebrates Children’s Day. It has become a popular shopping festival over the years in China where parents and grandparents spoil the little ones with many presents. Promotions begin at the end of May and last through the first week of June. It is a great opportunity for brands to integrate online and offline strategies in order to sell toys, children’s apparel and school related products. For your marketing team it is important that they create campaigns that focus on the children, not just the parents, as it is common for parents to take their children to the store to choose their own gifts.
June: 618 Shopping Carnival
618 is China’s second largest e-commerce festival. Originally a way to celebrate JD’s founding, it has since evolved into a whole-of-internet, platform-agnostic e-commerce extravaganza comparable only to Double 11. This year, beauty sales were the standout. Radii reports sales of moisturizer, body serum and eye cream increased by over 100% each. And sales weren’t just going to female consumers — sales of male beauty products saw a 522% increase within the first hour of 618 From a marketing perspective, comprehensive campaigns that include free shipping, promotion codes and big discounts to promote your products are recommended. However, if you want to participate in the 6.18 madness – and we think you should – be sure to realize it takes more than just throwing up a promotion on different e-commerce platforms, a good campaign idea might just be the key to winning the ever-increasing competition.
June: RED anniversary
Besides JD, Little Red Book also celebrates its anniversary in June, on June 6th. Little Red Book (or Xiaohongshu) started out as a content-oriented social platform, and has now clearly transformed into a Social commerce platform. Their anniversary shoppig festival is one to participate in if your brand is active on the platform. On June 6, 2017, Little Red Book held this shopping festival to celebrate its fourth anniversary and the sales revenue exceeded 100 million RMB (14 million USD) in just 2 hours. Certainly worth investing some of your marketing resources on.
August: Qi Xi
Traditional Chinese Valentine’s Day, “Qixi”(七夕), is another important expression of love that brands shouldn’t miss out on. As you can see from the number of Valentines-like occasions through the year, gifting between couples is engrained in Chinese culture and there are never enough occasions to buy each other gifts. But be aware not too miss out on singletons and those in non-conventional loving relationships, as evidenced by this cracking campaign from Burberry.
September: Mid-Autumn Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival in China is a celebration that begins on the 15th day of the 8th month on the Chinese lunar calendar. It is a thousand-year-old celebration where families gather to partake in activities dedicated to celebrating the moon. It’s a great time to promote small gift items, which tend to sell well throughout the festivities. The Mid-autumn festival is usually in mid-September, however this year it falls exactly on October 1, meaning the your team will either have to choose or combine some promotional plans with the National day.
October: National Day & Golden Week
National Day kicks off the Golden Week, one of the longest public holidays in China. Golden Week begins on the 1st of October with the National Day celebration and runs till October 7th. It is one of the busiest times of year to travel as tens of millions of people make the most of one week of holidays to visit family or go on vacation. Hence, it provides a great opportunity to run campaigns including package promotions, promotion codes, and lucky draw campaigns to interact with your customers before, during and after their travels. Whether you are promoting a destination, hotel or a brand promoting your products to visiting Chinese tourists, be sure to start the campaign about a month in advance. This is when your prospective travelers make their decisions and book their trips!
November: Double 11
The largest e-commerce festival of the year in China is on November 11, better known as Single’s Day or Double 11 (双十一). The festival’s size and scale keeps on growing. TechNode reports Chinese consumers spent more than RMB 100 billion ($14.3 billion) in the first 64 minutes of e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Singles Day shopping event, breaking last year’s record of 107 minutes. Pre-sales for the event start a month before 11 November, so we suggest brands, stores and platforms to start preparing a campaign at least a few months in advance. Additionally, in order to respond adequately to this festival, it is wise to plan your inventory in advance and make sure you invest in delivery, as slow delivery and lost packages are common issues occurring during 11.11. Although we’ve previously written that sales should not be the only forcus of this event, we can’t deny that it means a lot for our clients.
December: Double 12
The Double 12 shopping festival is the last of the biggest e-commerce shopping festivals before the end of the year. Founded by leading e-commerce players Taobao and JD.com Double 12 is similar to Double 11, and offers a great opportunity to run a campaign including free shipping, promotion codes, and discounts to promote your brand in the final sprint for consumer attention. You might not think it should get much attention but it certainly belongs on the 2020 China E-commerce Calendar. Every brand should evaluate the promotional benefits and how they fit into their annual plan. Always being careful not to join just because the platform is asking you to participate.
Even though it is not a traditional Chinese holiday, Christmas has found its way into the Chinese shopping holiday calendar. Especially younger Chinese consumers are on the look out for good deals around this time of year. It is certainly perceived more as a shopping festival than as a time for family gathering. Consumers are hoping to buy imported and luxury goods, either to enjoy themselves or as gifts for friends. Wine sales have been steadily climbing and get a good boost from this holiday season and Chinese friends that want to entertain at home. In general products go on sale as early as the 14th of December and sales run through to the Western New Year.
As you can see, China offers a ton of opportunities for brands to promote their products on the countless e-commerce holidays on the various big and smaller platforms. Our advise for every brand is to pick and choose wisely, finding relevant events for their niche and target audience. Participation in the biggest events such as Double 11 and 618 might be a must. But it is best to plan the years promotion budget split for the other events based on where your brand could achieve the best possible outcome.
Would you like to get support in making your annual promotion calendar, and finding the right ways to reach your target audience during these popular e-commerce holidays in China? Don’t hesitate to get in touch for an initial consult with our local team of experts. Let’s make 2020 a great success for your brand in China!