More options, less impulse: China's annual e-commerce carnival reveals fresh spending trends
Initiated in 2009, the once-a-year "Double 11" has gradually evolved into one of the most expected Chinese shopping festivals that have been sustained by radical markdowns on one hand, and the continuously growing domestic demand and people's increasing aspiration for a quality life on the other.
It has also provided a window for observing the up-to-date consuming trends inside China.
According to the data released by Tmall, one of the major Chinese e-commerce platforms, the turnover of 102 brands, among which more than half are Chinese brands, exceeded 100 million yuan (about 13.9 million U.S. dollars) within the first hour since the start of the festival. Some of the Chinese brands even had more sales within the first hour than the whole day on November 11 last year.
Thanks to the convenience brought by the express delivery, the "Double 11" is no longer an exclusive shopping festival for local consumers but offers more options for overseas consumers.
Statistics from another e-commerce giant JD.com show that in some countries and regions, the turnover of Chinese historical novels increased by 380 percent year on year during the presales of this year, reflecting a growing trend among overseas consumers to learn about China through reading.
While more Chinese products are going overseas, the "Double 11" of this year is also seeing an increasing variety of imported goods on JD.com's "national pavilions" that sell unique overseas products.
The overall turnover of the "national pavilions" has increased by more than 12 times year on year within 10 minutes after the start of the festival.
"I don't like to stock up on things; all I bought are what I need," said a social media user named Buling Lantu on Weibo. In contrast to the impulse spending in the previous "Double 11" sprees, consumers are now getting smarter with promotional pushes and tend to buy with a greater awareness of rational consumption to avoid any excessive spending.
According to data from the online retailer Suning, the volume of trade-in orders rose 122 percent month on month during the opening period of this year's "Double 11", which also reflects a growing consumer propensity for thriftiness.
However, lower price, previously the biggest selling point of the festival, is no longer as tempting as before, as many consumers tend to value consumption benefits more and are more willing to up their budgets on health, education, and sports.
Data from Tmall showed that the sales volume of camping equipment registered a 115-percent year-on-year surge, while that of the skiing outfit gained a 61.9-percent year-on-year increase within the first hour of this year's "Double 11," reflecting an emerging enthusiasm toward ice-snow sports after China successfully hosted the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
During this weeks-long shopping festival, the online platforms are witnessing the participation of more consumers from the silver-hair group, proved by the substantial sales growth of physical examination services for middle-aged and silver-hair groups, nutrition and health products, and household medical devices.
This trend is further substantiated by the new products exhibited at the fifth China International Import Expo, such as the 5G-powered intelligent nursing bed that is capable of monitoring heart rate, breathing, and body movements and the wireless Bluetooth hearing aid designed for the elderly.
China has a large elderly population, and the market for elderly-targeted products and services has great development potential, said Wang Yiming, vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
Medical and health care, smart home, tourism, and culture and entertainment industries will effectively create new momentum for economic growth, he added.