Merry Singles Day! or How I Learned to Love the Deal

by James Hires

Mention online shopping and many people will think of Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN). And that’s perfectly understandable. The online juggernaut has indeed changed the way retail works.

Despite the company’s recent pullback in share price, Amazon still seems unstoppable. But in fact, there is one company that can rival Jeff Bezos’ e-commerce powerhouse: China’s Alibaba (NYSE: BABA), or the Amazon of the Eastern Hemisphere.

Founded in 1999, Alibaba has been enormously successful. It’s so influential, it basically invented its own holiday.

November 11 became Singles Day in China as an anti-Valentine’s Day. It started as an obscure joke holiday for students but became much more in 2009. Since then, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma has turned Singles Day into a global shopping bonanza.

Alibaba alone raked in $30.8 billion this past November 11. That’s triple the $10.6 billion American shoppers spent on last year’s Cyber Monday and Black Friday.

This type of online shopping holiday may remind you of Amazon’s Prime Day... But to put Alibaba’s success into perspective, it beat Amazon’s Prime Day sales in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s why...

Singles Day is more than just a day of good deals on powdered milk and electronics. This year, Alibaba threw a massive gala to celebrate its holiday... and it was bananas.

The gala featured a performance from Mariah Carey, a Cirque du Soleil show, and appearances by ex-supermodel Miranda Kerr and ex-NBA star Allen Iverson. There were also robot waiters mixing cocktails. Oh, and there was a Japanese Beyoncé impersonator. It was glitz... It was glamour... It was more over-the-top than an ‘80s rom-com.

Singles Day has all the pageantry and fun of a holiday. But it was almost completely fabricated by Alibaba. Given the sheer amount of cash the company just raked in from it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon follow suit with Prime Day celebrations in the future.

Alibaba’s success also alludes to how the growing middle class in Asia is likely to drive sales trends moving forward.

By 2022, the Chinese middle class could number 550 million. That’s more than the total population of the United States, Mexico and Canada combined!

And China is only the first wave of Asia’s growth spurt. The Eastern Hemisphere is picking up momentum and shows no signs of stalling.

India is going through a similar period of economic and population growth. Indonesia, South Korea and Vietnam are in the same boat. Look to markets in East and Southeast Asia to become the driving force behind the global economy over the next few decades.

The explosion of Singles Day is further evidence of the eastward shift of global markets.

In short... the future of retail is here, and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Happy holidays,

James

 

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