Amidst Pandemic, 11.11 Breaks First-Day Record in Just Ten Minutes

Livestream celebrities and an idol group of virtual kittens drive a unique Singles' Day

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6:47 PM HKT, Fri October 30, 2020 1 mins read

As October comes to a close in China, consumers and retailers are gearing up for a historic Singles’ Day shopping festival, with the world watching to see if consumer spending has truly rebounded after a pandemic-induced slump.

Singles’ Day started early this year, with deals beginning on October 21, and with the help of livestream mega-celebrities, smashed last year’s first-day record in the event’s first ten minutes. The holiday started as a small university student celebration, but has grown into a shopping event that dwarfs Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.


This year, early momentum came from China’s top two livestreamers, Li Jiaqi and Viya. Together, the two were estimated to have sold over 1 billion RMB in Gross Merchandise Value.

The 2020 festival spans two distinct periods, with Taobao CEO Fan Jiang expecting 800 million users to participate — 300 million more than last year. The early kick-off, Fan said, is also for the sake of user experience, giving the growing number of buyers more time to navigate the limited deals.


That extended push is also the reason for “Xingxiu MEOW” — an idol group of animated cats created to promote the festival, whose ranks include “soul singer Tiantian, powerful dancer Taotao, and young OG Eleven.”

“The song is not good,” reads one top comment on social media platform Weibo, while others argue over which cat idol reigns supreme.


Also under the microscope are the purchasing habits of China’s pandemic-affected consumer population. Domestic brands, especially, are poised for success, with 66% of consumers choosing Chinese brands over foreign ones, citing “patriotism” as the primary reason. The Singles Day stats will also be closely watched for new consumption patterns and priorities in the wake of Covid-19.

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