Singles' Day 2018 in numbers

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Singles' Day, the largest global e-commerce day, is an important event for affiliate marketing. How did Awin's advertisers and publishers perform in 2018?

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Kicking off three weeks of promotions and discounts leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Singles’ Day unofficially launched Awin's peak trading period, posting triple digit year-on-year commission growth.

Focused on Chinese website Alibaba, Singles’ Day tracked sales growth in excess of 80%, with two-out-of-every-three sales tracked via mobile on Awin. Health, beauty and fitness retailers outperformed other categories with these sectors, paying publishers more than double the commission earned 2017.

More widely, Singles’ Day smashed last year’s total by $5bn, posting $32bn in sales across the 24-hour spending frenzy.

With its origins as an event for single individuals treating themselves to a gift in celebration of their relationship status, Alibaba founder Jack Ma appropriated the day in 2009, turning it into a retail phenomenon that continues to post mind-boggling numbers.

Given the time difference between China and the West and the creep of Singles’ Day promotions across the globe, Awin reviewed sales data from both November 10th and 11th to assess changing patterns. Falling across the weekend, the bump in smartphone sales reflects the commoditized nature of products purchased, as well as the general shift towards mobile. Throw in weekend peaks and the dominance of handsets was a key feature of this year’s event:

While still small in comparison to Black Friday and the wider Cyber Weekend in the rest of the world, Singles’ Day continues to make impressive year-on-year gains. Posting 45% annual growth in 2017, this year’s numbers bested that, almost doubling the rate:

Awin’s top publishers, with a Chinese audience in mind, tracked more than 1m clicks for the first time across the Singles’ Day weekend. While average basket values held up despite the device consumers were using, some publishers struggled to convert smartphone traffic.
This remains a key factor with mobile clicks; often reflective of the early funnel, exploratory nature of searching for products and brands on handsets, consumers rarely in the mindset to buy.

Yet again 2018 proved a juggernaut for cosmetics brands. In China, the industry has almost doubled in a five-year period:

Source: National Bureau of Statistics of China

This is broadly indicative of a strong desire by Chinese consumers to explore new and diverse ranges of products available from Awin’s brands.

It was noticeable this year that many established affiliate brands chose to reference Singles’ Day in their ad copy. While the event is yet to penetrate the wider consumer consciousness, with Alibaba’s global ambitions to bring its quirky mix of retail and entertainment to a wider audience, it seems only a matter of time before it establishes roots outside China.