Alibaba kicks off the 11.11 hype train with big growth predictions and a focus on less developed markets

Alibaba's annual 11.11 shopping festival is swiftly approaching and the company has unveiled the festival's focus; attracting more participants from less-developed areas and lowering its environmental impact for the year.

With more than 500 million users expected to participate in 2020 (about 100 million more than last year) this year's shopping festival is hoped to meet the growing demand of Chinese consumers for new brands and new products by tapping the global supply chain. More than 22,000 international brands from 78 countries and regions will participate in this year’s 11.11 on cross-border online marketplace Tmall Global. More than 200,000 brands in total are participating in the 2020 festival, with one million new products on offer.

Thousands of brands and merchants - such as Tom Ford, MAC, Giorgio Armani Beauty, and Victoria’s Secret - will roll out upgraded stores for the event. The Tmall Flagship Store 2.0 will enable brands to customise their flagship stores to offer personalised content and product promotions. For example, consumers can use an AR-powered virtual makeup tool for relevant cosmetics brands to “try on” different products.  In addition, 215 international brands - including Lancôme, SK-II, YSL Beauté, Givenchy, and Shiseido - will debut more than 240 "special edition" 11.11-themed versions of their products.

This year, Alibaba is pivoting its focus to less-developed markets. Alongside the main event, its holding concurrent an event in the northeastern city of Harbin, in Heilongjiang province, underscoring its aim to serve consumers and small businesses in China’s developing territories.

As of the start of 2019's fiscal year on 1 April, more than 70% of new consumers were listed as coming from less developed areas, with user penetration in these places hanging around 40% as of June 2019.

“Our goal is to stimulate consumption demand and support lifestyle upgrade in China through new brands and products. We will enable merchants in China and around the world to grow their businesses through data-driven product innovation and consumer insights, as well as leverage our recommendation technology and content-driven user engagement to delight consumers in urban coastal cities and less-developed areas of China,” said Fan Jiang, president of Taobao and Tmall.

Another major element for the year is countering the massive wastage of shipping with new recycling and environmental protection policies. Alibaba’s logistics affiliate Cainiao will convert 40,000 stations and 35,000 stations operated by its express courier partners into permanent recycling stations, sending express courier companies to pick up used cardboard boxes and wrapping as well.

Since 21 October, in order to engage customers, Alibaba has been hosting a series of events in the run-up to the festival. The highlight of these events -  the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival Gala Celebration - will be held on the evening of November 10, and will be broadcast live by Youku from Shanghai’s Mercedes Benz Arena.