Over the last 12 years, Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival has grown from a little-known event with just 27 participating brands into the world’s largest shopping festival. This year, a record-breaking 290,000 brands from around the world participated with the goal of engaging directly with more than 900 million consumers on the company’s platforms. Overall, the 13th annual extravaganza generated $84.54 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) during the 11-day campaign.

The company noted that the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of its business partners and merchants across different industries. “Retailers and brands and small businesses have had to navigate unprecedented challenges over the last two years because of COVID, and I often hear from international business leaders that their businesses would not have grown and be in the position of strength they are today without China. China remains an incredibly important market for brands to find growth today, but also for growth in the future,” said Alibaba President Michael Evans.

He continued, “China’s long-term consumption is set to double to $12.7 trillion by 2030, an important indicator of how consumption and retail will drive economic growth in the future. I’ve always believed that if you want to know what the future of global retail will look like, just look to China today, leading the world in creating new retail concepts. As an example, you can’t talk about retail in China without talking about livestream. Alibaba’s first pioneered this technology five years ago, and it remains the single most important tool for consumer engagement. This year, Taobao Live will feature 700 influencers brands and celebrities in live streaming sessions for 11.11.”

To kick off 11.11, Alibaba hosted an event on November 10 in Manhattan featuring a panel of brands who sell on Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace to discuss their experiences selling on the site and to Chinese consumers.

Amanda Baldwin, CEO, Supergoop, sat on the panel and talked about the brand’s success over the past 18 months, and how savvy the Chinese consumer is.

“This consumer is incredibly well-informed. I’ve been blown away by the level of questions that come through and how detailed, specific, and knowledgeable people are about ingredients and how to use products. It’s actually really inspiring. We’re having to answer questions that are PhD-level questions about our products, which is fantastic. We’re also learning where we fit as it’s a huge market. The reaction we have gotten for our products is incredibly exciting and humbling when you’re in a market that has access to everything. Another thing we learned was brand resonance. We have been really excited by what we’ve been able to do from a marketing point of view. We’re so early in this and I’m excited for 2022 and what’s to come.  Playing in 11.11 is a great opportunity to educate people in the same way that we would in the United States when a holiday like Labor Day comes around. It gives us a really unique opportunity to tell our story.”

Isabelle Fevrier, CEO of Mansur Gavriel, talked about the brand’s success in China, and its strategy to entering the marketplace.

“China has been the number-one market for luxury accessories, so it made sense for us. We did a lot of research and found that we actually had a large Chinese following, so that reassured us. We decided to enter very similar to the way the brand was first launched in the United States – through social media, so people could genuinely talk about the brand instead of building brand recognition in the market. We launched on Tmall in mid-September, and we’ve been very happy as the sales keep growing.

We did live streaming last week, thanks to Tmall, and I was very happy this could be taken care of directly in China for us. I think it’s a great, great avenue to get our brand out there, and is a great tool in terms of reaching a much broader audience and figuring out what resonates with them. It will become part of our marketing beyond China. It doesn’t have to be a U.S. strategy and an international strategy – we can think about this a bit more globally.”

Data coming from China’s biggest day of retail revealed that more than 45 percent of consumers that made purchases on 11.11 were born in the Nineties and ‘00s, and the number of consumers born in the aughts increased by 25 percent year-over-year. Alibaba also shared that more than 500,000 products with official Green Product Certification from more than 2,000 merchants were featured in a dedicated eco-friendly vertical on Tmall.