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China’s Shopping Festival Calendar: 618 Trendsetter for the future of E-commerce
Insights | Jul 2021

Online shopping festivals have come to be a trendsetter for new consumer patterns in the Chinese landscape of e-commerce. The festivals are a must-be event for new brands and marketers, not only for sales but also as a unique opportunity to get inspired by novel shopping ideas.

China’s annual “618 Shopping Festival” is the first mid-sale of the year. The 618 festival is not only China’s second-largest shopping event but possibly the second largest shopping event in the world, behind Single´s Day in November (also known as 11.11).

The June 18 (618) Shopping Festival began in 2010 as an anniversary promotion for JD.com but has since then grown to an annual festival traditionally starting 1 of June and lasting until the 18 of June. 

The booming market for e-commerce

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumer behavior, pushing more customers to online shopping. According to the analytics firm Syntun, the B2C e-commerce sales grew 26, 5% during this year’s 618 festival. The growing market for e-commerce is also supported by data from the state Post Bureau that 2021 observed a 24, 4% increase in package deliveries. This year’s festival did not only generate more sales than ever, but it also shows that the e-commerce trend in China is the new normal.

Besides consumer apatite and a “COVID-19 effect”, stretched shopping windows may also be a reason for increased sale figures. Some e-commerce platforms started their promotions already in May.  Prolonged campaigns give brands an opportunity to stay ahead, monitor, and adjust their strategy to their results. Costumers on the other hand have more time to explore and compare different products and platforms.

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New trends and platforms

In the era of Content-driven live streaming e-commerce, customers do not only expect discounts and promotions but also expect a more personal innovative shopping experience. As an example, JD.com invited more than 300 celebrities and 600 brands to participate in different live-shopping events.

With short video apps and different social media platforms brands gives a wider array of channels to market their products. For example, the number of brands selling on Douyin (TikTok) almost tripled this year.

Another trending way of promoting is to embrace the super app WeChat and its mini-programs. WeChat mini-program can easily be explained as a mini-program within a super-program (The super app – Wechat). The platforms make it easier for Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to sell their own e-commerce, but also for bigger brands to get closer to their customers.  As an example, according to Vogue Business, sales on Armani Beauty’s mini-program increased by 279% compared to last year’s 618.

Despite these trends and creative ways to reach consumers, traditionally e-commerce giants still dominate the sales. According to Syntun sales rank, T-mall got first place and JD second.

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Trending products

Chinas 618 Shopping festival is well known to be a festival for families. This year’s top 3 sectors by total GMW were home appliances, mobile communications and clothing, and accessories.

Two new booming categories that really stood out during 618 were Pet-products and Camping products. More and more Chinese chose to become pet owners, this category has grown for at least the last five years and seems to continue. Due to the pandemic, China has seen more domestic tourism and outdoor activities, which seem to be an explanation for the increased sales of camping products.

The China 618 Shopping festival not only indicates new e-commerce trends but most of all it shows that the Chinese economy is recovering.  With innovative e-platforms and targeted marketing, China’s e-landscape clearly is open for business.

Navigating China’s digital platforms can clearly be a jungle but also an inspiring journey. We at NBH can help you to create a stronger digital presence.

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