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Excitement grows as clock ticks down to Nov 11 shopping festival

By Shi Jing in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2015-10-24 08:10

Initiated by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's Taobao platform in 2009, "Singles' Day", on Nov 11, is now China's largest shopping festival and arguably the retail industry's most important 24 hours of the year, according to a recent report by the consumer research group Zenith Optimedia.

The study showed 36.11 percent of people born in the 1990s are even now willing to go without sleep during the event, in the hope of grabbing a bargain.

That makes the shopping splurge more attractive, said respondents, than the Soccer World Cup (for which 30.56 percent said they would stay awake) or even their favorite South Korean drama (33.33 percent).

The most typical participants in the Nov 11 shopping spree, the survey found, were young professional women working in junior positions.

The daylong shopping frenzy has even become more popular than Valentine's Day, with 44.44 percent of respondents choosing Nov 11 as the day they can't do without during the year, 10 percent ahead of the annual festival of love and romance.

Siewping Lim, chief executive officer of Zenithmedia, said that while many large companies with generous budgets have already started major marketing promotions ahead of Singles' Day, its findings also reveal more smaller and newer retail firms have also been targeting consumers with tempting offers, including free samples.

Lim said a clear trend of Singles Day, contrary to other times of the year, is that the biggest brand names actually matter less than at normal times of the year.

Nearly 40 percent of shoppers said they were likely to choose smaller and newer outlets for the first time at the sale.

"What is also consistent about this year's Singles' Day sale is that price, although still the top priority, does not play as a significant a role as it did six years ago, and its importance has continued declining annually," she said, a likely indication of rising incomes.

"Another interesting phenomenon is that younger people take to social networking in their millions on Nov 12, simply to boast to their friends about what they bought."

Hu Xuanling, 23, said she too is looking forward to showing off her Nov 11 "loot", as she called it, particularly for popular products she manages to buy at a discount.

"That only makes them look even better," she said.

"I fully expect to sit up late. If you've taken part in previous Nov 11s, you'll know the excitement and nervousness as the clock ticks past midnight," she said. "Some of my friends even have tactics, like splitting up into teams for different products, to make sure everyone gets his or her favorite. It is great fun."

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