Live Updates from 2019’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival
November 10, 2019
Live Updates from 2019’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival
After five years away from Hangzhou, we’re back at Alibaba Group’s Xixi headquarters for the 2019 11.11 Global Shopping Festival! As always, we’ll be covering the entire event, start to finish, with this live blog. Bookmark the page so you can follow along as we offer real-time takes on the annual Countdown Gala, the midnight kickoff, insights from brands and experts, the final results and everything in between. You can also follow us on our social-media accounts: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. And media can find any resources they may need here.
Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019
While most livestreaming platforms in the West are focused on gaming and entertainment, in China, it is a go-to option for consumers to seek out new products, as well as ask questions and engage with their favorite livestream hosts — an essential part of the discovery journey. We caught up with top Chinese livestreamer Viya Huang (in the photo above, left) for a brief interview at her Hangzhou studio in between broadcasts to chat more about what will be her fourth 11.11.
Huang said that this year she is recommending a wider variety of products than before, promoting her favorite deals from cars and five-star hotel vouchers to movie tickets. Last week, she also worked with Kim Kardashian West to help sell her perfume brand KKW to Chinese consumers for the first time.
“Our livestream studio features celebrity appearances from time to time, and my fans really enjoy it,” said Huang. “Our recent session with Kim Kardashian was for her fragrance brand, which was making its Asia debut through my livestream studio. Everyone was excited about this. I even invited her to a game of mahjong the next time she comes to China.”
Zhao Yuanyuan, head of the user-generated content unit at Taobao Live, said this year’s 11.11 shopping festival is even more fun and playful, with more brands now experimenting with livestreaming in ever-more creative ways.
“This year, people will discover that they can not only shop, but also play,” Zhao said. “And naturally, social communication has become an important part of the shopping experience. We’ll see a larger variety of hosts: Everyone from company CEOs, celebrities, influencers to designers and product managers are all walking into livestream studios.”
The 11.11 Countdown Gala Celebration, never short on musical performances, hasn’t disappointed this year. So far, Russian soprano Aida Garifullina and Chinese singer Ayanga (pictured above) performed a duet as they were surrounded by dancers carrying glowing orbs who moved in unison to give the appearance of waves of light on stage. Teen sensation Jackson Yi (seen below), of boy band TFBoys, followed. Yi, who also performed at the Tmall Collection show two weeks ago, surprised fans by performing a new single, “Fall,” with a new dapper, suited-up look.
Halfway through the show, the audience went crazy when the coaches and champions of “Street Dance of China,” a popular reality series on Alibaba’s video-streaming platform Youku, took to the stage. Then were later joined by world-renowned dance crews The Royal Family and Kinjaz in a spectacular dance-battle performance on a moving, LED stage.
The show has also featured interactive games for the audience at home. Watching on the Youku mobile app, viewers could vote to see which teams on stage would win competitions, such as human Tetris and human Candy Crush (seen above). There was also a whack-a-mole game that featured, not moles, but Alibaba’s animal mascots. Viewers had the chance to win cash vouchers to redeem during 11.11.
Still to come, though, is Taylor Swift. She’s expected to perform three songs tonight, with the first at about 11:10 p.m.
Tonight’s 11.11 Countdown Gala Celebration – broadcasting live from the Shanghai Mercedes-Benz Arena, starting at 7:30 p.m. local time – would be the first time the four-plus-hour variety show had a truly global audience: streaming to 106 countries and regions worldwide, from Southeast Asia and North America to Europe and Africa.
Now in its fifth year, the Gala is known for its eclectic mix of celebrity, music, games and interactivity. In previous years, guests have included former James Bond actor Daniel Craig, Mariah Carey, Maria Sharapova, Miranda Kerr and Kobe Bryant. This year, American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is slated to perform.
Robert Lin, the producer of the Gala and vice president of Youku, said that the event would also tap cutting-edge stage technology, such as moving platforms and interactive LED floors. It would be “a gala made for the internet age,” Lin said.
“While traditional galas may focus on lineups and stage design, for us, it’s more important to think about how can we interact with and meet the demands of the audience,” he said.
Conventional gala events tend to be a one-way process, largely driven by the director’s creative vision, but Lin said he wanted to strike a balance between the art direction and what users love to watch.
Youku and Alibaba Cloud rallied about 300 technical staff to support this year’s 4K high-definition streaming and multi-screen interactions. For example, as they watch the show on TV, the audience can tune into a parallel livestreaming session on Taobao or play interactive games on their smartphones to win perks or help boost the points of their favorite celebrity when they are taking on a challenge.
“No one has really defined what makes an ‘internet gala,’ but we understand it to be highly interactive, with the user is at its center. We consider what the Gala can bring to our users and how to better satisfy their needs,” said Lin.
As part of the event, Youku also invited 41 celebrities to help promote agricultural produce of poverty-stricken regions throughout China, including the pianist Lang Lang and teen sensation Jackson Yi, of Chinese boy band TFBoys. Some of these celebrities will appear on a dedicated livestream show, streaming alongside the Gala, aimed at boosting sales for these farmers.
L’Oréal has been selling on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms for nearly a decade. In that time, they’ve grown from using Tmall and Taobao and Cainiao to many other parts of our ecosystem, including Tmall Supermarket, Tmall Innovation Center and all of the highly sophisticated marketing tools that Alibaba offers to brands. Anyone who wants to understand just what it takes to enter and thrive in the Chinese market would do well to listen to a seasoned veteran like L’Oréal. Alizila recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Eileen Zong, the brand general manager of L’Oréal Paris in China. She walked us through the brand’s preparations for 11.11, as well as how her team leverages the Alibaba ecosystem to target and engage Chinese consumers. Read our interview here. And check out our video highlights below:
More than an opportunity to stock up on clothes, furniture and gadgets, 11.11 is also a platform to connect rural farmers across China with urban shoppers.
Such is the case with goji-berry farmers in Qinghai Province’s Nuomuhong. In the past few months, about 60,000 people have gathered in the small town in China’s northwestern desert to harvest goji berries ahead of 11.11. Nuomohong has transformed in the past decade from a scarcely populated patch of land to the home of many entrepreneur-farmers who have benefited from selling their crops on the internet.
Alibaba is also currently working with 1,000 agricultural farmlands in China, helping farmers leverage its technology to digitize their businesses, such as dragon fruit farmers in Hainan Province who are now “using their phones to farm.” Learn more about their story here:
Speaking of offline excitement, Chinese hypermarket RT-Mart began its 11.11 promotions on Saturday. (Alibaba owns a 36% stake in RT-Mart parent Sun Art Retail Group.) About 5,000 items were going at half price. Look at these photos! One of our colleagues in the U.S. called it “Black Friday-esque.” And to most Americans, scenes of retail shelves picked clean by bargain shoppers most likely would conjure thoughts of that annual holiday-season sale. But just to put things in context: Thanksgiving Day to Black Friday to Cyber Monday – even Small Business Saturday and Super Sunday – generated $24.2 billion in online revenues last year, according to Adobe. 11.11, meanwhile, brought in $30.8 billion in gross merchandise volume – in just 24 hours.
The excitement is felt as much offline as it is online, with Intime Malls packed with crowds hoping to get in on 11.11 deals. This year, the Chinese department store chain, which has been partnering with Alibaba on New Retail transformation, has powered up its 11.11 celebrations with events such as an interactive fashion show in Xi’an City and advanced technology, including cloud-based point-of-sale machines — handheld devices that staff can use allow consumers to pay where they are at, instead of having to queue up at a cashier — or its new digital warehouse system that act as centralized conduits for smart inventory, packaging and delivery to shoppers. Check out some of their latest technologies here:
Of course, 11.11 officially kicks off at midnight tonight, but pre-sales for the world’s largest shopping day began on Oct. 21. In the two weeks since, there’s been a lot of activity for both brands and consumers before the clock reads 00:00 — in just under 11 hours! We’ve collected 11 fun pre-event facts for this 11th 11.11:
- Over 64 brands achieved more than RMB100 million in pre-order gross merchandise volume, twice the number of brands compared to last year.
- American beauty brand Estée Lauder achieved RMB 1 billion in pre-order GMV, a first in 11.11 history.
- RMB100 million worth of iPhone 11s sold during pre-order sales.
- The number of merchants who used livestreams this year increased 200%. Total GMV through livestreaming has so far increased 50 times over last year.
- L’Oréal’s pre-sales GMV increased 700% over last year thanks to livestreaming. Its 17-hour long broadcast during day one of pre-sale attracted nearly 1 million views.
- 500 million tons of goods fill Cainiao’s warehouses, and Alibaba’s logistics arm is using smart-logistics technology to arrange inventories according to geographical demands, which allows for more-efficient delivery.
- Tmall selected 3,000 best-sellers to help consumers when shopping for 11.11, leading them to the top deals of the year.
- More than 19.47 million consumers pledged to go green this year by recycling 11.11 packaging through Alibaba’s green initiative. For each pledge they make on Mobile Taobao’s “green 11.11” landing page, they can receive “Meow Coins,” an interactive game currency that converts to shopping discounts for 11.11.
- There were 1.1 million views for Lazada’s 11.11 gameshow marathon, which was livestreamed across its six markets in Southeast Asia. There were 634,000 views in Indonesia alone.
- 300,000 visually impaired consumers can play games and win “red packets” this year for the first time, which was made possible by Alibaba’s Optical Character Recognition technology.
- Juhuasuan, Alibaba’s sales and digital-marketing platform, co-developed 1,000 quality and affordable products with 1,000 brands to meet the demands of consumers in China’s lower-tier areas.
Brands and media are all converging here at Alibaba’s Xixi campus to mark the 11th 11.11. Brands have set up “war rooms” here on campus, while reporters will gather in our media center to watch the big day kick off and the results roll in. And Aliren are working furiously to finish final details before the midnight launch. Needless to say, campus is buzzing! Here’s a look at some of the fun that’s been happening at Xixi in the run-up to this year’s 11.11. If you’re media, you can find all of our 11.11 photos here. Just 12 hours to go — make it happen!!