While shoppers in the West may be familiar with Alibaba’s “Singles Day” sale as China’s alternative to “Black Friday” to kick off the holiday season, what many do not know is that an overwhelming majority of Chinese consumers also participate the country’s annual “Mid-Year Festival”, colloquially known as “6-18”, which takes place on June 18th each year.

From June 1st to the 18th each year, Chinese e-commerce platforms conduct some of the largest sales and promotions of the year for their visitors and drive hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for brands- both foreign and domestic.

Having just concluded, 2019’s 6-18 event was a massive success for Alibaba, as more than 200,000 brands were reported to have taken part[1] this year. With the 2019 edition of 6/18 having come and gone this week, WPIC takes a look at some of the results that Alibaba has publicly announced:

  1. Among “major brands”, more than 100 brands exceeded their 11/11 numbers from last year. This result is a huge coup for Alibaba because it signals that platform growth is continuing YoY and that globally recognized brands (like Nike, Apple, L’Oréal, etc.) have lots to gain from engaging with China’s online shoppers.
  2. The “Little Black Box” (a channel for new products) saw in excess of 50% of all Tmall users visit and add an item to their cart. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that half of all customers made purchases on that vertical – Tmall didn’t release that information- the platform is seeing people explore new items, which is another indication of a healthy, vibrant platform.
  3. The JuHuaSuan vertical had more than 300 million customers brought to brand pages, across the 18-day promotion. The flash sales channel, which was launched in 2010 as China’s answer to Groupon, saw important growth, providing Chinese consumers with another way to shop online, and has been stated as an important growth area for Alibaba. According to Alibaba, mmore than 180 products topped RMB 10 million in sales[2].
  4. Brands that participated on Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion grew YOY in excess of 130%, in terms of both sales and buyers. While luxury products have struggled to take off in the west on third party platforms like Amazon, Chinese consumers have no issues buying through trusted third parties, and Tmall has capitalized on those consumer preferences by establishing a dedicated luxury area, with both premium luxury and light luxury offerings.
  5. Digital reading through e-readers increased by more than 15,000% compared to last year’s 6/18 on Tmall’s e-book market. As these platforms are owned by Tmall, this is an indication of further engagement and interaction within Alibaba’s ecosystem. As Alibaba continues to expand its core abilities with areas that customers are responding to positively, competing platforms are going to find it more and more difficult to dethrone China’s e-commerce king. 
  6. Taobao live streaming brought in gross merchandise volume (GMV) of more than RMB 13 Billion during the 18-day promotion. While live stream shopping hasn’t taken off in the west, WPIC has written in the past about this popular tactic in China[1], which is only growing in importance and is a key part of the online shopping experience for many millennials and members of the Gen-Z demographic.[1] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/alibaba-6-18-mid-shopping-033900471.html
    [2] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/alibaba-6-18-mid-shopping-033900471.html