2 November 2016

Rousing countdown to Alibaba's 2016 11.11 Global Shopping Festival

Source: Alibaba Group. The 2016 11.11 Global Shopping Festival was launched on October 20 in Hong Kong.
Source: Alibaba Group. The 2016 11.11 Global Shopping Festival was launched on October 20 in Hong Kong.
From left: Jet Jing, VP of Alibaba Group; Maggie Wu, CFO of Alibaba Group; Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group; Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group; and Chris Tung, CMO of Alibaba Group.

Alibaba Group has revealed more features and highlights of its 2016 11.11 Global Shopping Festival Countdown Gala. Guests will include basketball player Kobe Bryant and band OneRepublic. There will also be some surprise guests on the night, to be held in Shenzhen on November 10, Alibaba said.

Performers already announced include Katy Perry, who is also the gala’s Global Ambassador, American sitcom 2 Broke Girls star Beth Behrs, and 2010 World Cup Golden Boot-winning footballer Thomas Müller.

This year’s gala reflects Alibaba’s globalisation efforts, as demonstrated in the range of participating brands and merchants, in addition to the lineup of international guests. The festival offers consumers much more than shopping, Alibaba said. In addition to international celebrities, music idols and football stars, the gala will also introduce a wide range of multimedia activities to engage consumers globally.

Chris Tung, CMO, Alibaba Group said, “The gala will be a global carnival, a world-class performance that involves the audience throughout the event with many touchpoints and is like nothing else you would have experienced. Last year was an incredible show and attracted attention from around the world, and this year we are going to surpass this and push the boundaries of entertainment by co-creating programmes with global brands and production studios. So make sure that you are ready and tuned in to get the party started on November 10th!”

As the director of this year’s gala, Los Angeles, US-based TV producer David Hill commented: “I’m excited to have been brought in to be part of something that is so unique. Combining Alibaba’s technology with my experience at other global events we are going to develop a spectacle like no other. This is going to be entertainment that goes beyond expectations and we have a chance to continue to build the legacy of this event. November 10th is eagerly awaited both in China and throughout the world - I’m looking forward to working with the team over the coming days to ensure that people aren’t disappointed.”

Hill has produced live events as varied as several NFL Super Bowls, the 88th Oscars, and American Idol.

This year the gala will redefine interactive entertainment by engaging consumers at an unprecedented level. One example is that viewers will be able to take part in competitions by shaking their smartphones equipped with Taobao or Tmall apps during the event, with big prizes to be won or even the chance to win the celebrities’ clothes right off their backs. Viewers will also have the chance to play the role of director in certain gala segments where they can let the story play out the way they want it to.

In a new element for this year, there will be four one-minute advertising time slots available for free in the categories of consumers, brands, non-profit organisations and 11.11 participants. The winners in each category will be chosen as the most innovative and most inspiring, and will be given the opportunity to have their ad videos played in front of an audience of hundreds of millions.

This year the gala will be held for the first time in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre. The event will be broadcast live by official media partner Zhejiang Satellite TV. Alibaba’s media assets like Youku Tudou, Tmall TV Box and UC Web will also be conducting live broadcasts of the gala.

Last year the four-hour gala was held in Beijing, at the Water Cube and was watched by around 100 million viewers. TMall generated RMB91.21 billion (around US$14.34 billion) in gross merchandise volume (GMV) on 11.11 last year, surpassing US online shopping volumes on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Over 40,000 merchants and 5,000 global brands from 25 countries participated in the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival last year.

This gala, plus mobile live streaming, virtual reality shopping, interactive games and an eight-hour livestreamed fashion show leading up to November 11 underscore the role that strong entertainment and interactive content will play in engaging all consumers and helping merchants explore new and creative ways to market their brand and products.

The 2016 11.11 Global Shopping Festival was launched on 20 October and promises weeks of marketing promotions, entertainment and new product offerings from around the world, culminating in the world’s busiest and largest shopping day.

At the launch Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group said, “11.11 Shopping Festival has become the global retail benchmark over the past seven years, and we have raised the bar again this year to redefine the retail experience for consumers together with our merchants from around the world.

11.11 has evolved far beyond a 24-hour sales event. From today through November 11, consumers will discover, explore, play, watch, comment, share, recommend and shop across our entire ecosystem with our merchants both online and offline. Leveraging our robust infrastructure, global merchants have been empowered with unprecedented capability to seamlessly engage and serve customers through new technology and new environments.”

The 2016 11.11 Global Shopping Festival has four primary focuses which support the global growth strategy of Alibaba and the scale of the event:

Entertainment and interactive engagement
Entertainment and interactive content will play a significant role in engaging all consumers this year which will help merchants explore new and creative ways to market their brand and products.

+The activities included Tmall's eight-hour fashion show in Shanghai, the largest of its kind in China with 50 international brands and 160 models participating. The show was streamed live via the Tmall and Taobao mobile apps, during which viewers can preorder items in real-time as they appear on the catwalk.

“The Tmall Global Fashion Show is a key event that kicks off our 11.11 Global Shopping Festival and one that underscores Tmall’s tremendous growth in the past few years. For big-name fashion brands across the globe, Tmall has become not only a distribution channel, but also a branding powerhouse as well as a global gathering place for lifestyle and fashion trends. We expect the event today to become a lifestyle trendsetter for Chinese consumers and virtually a ‘fashion week at their fingertips,’” said Tung.

Launched in 2008, Tmall is China’s biggest online B2C platform for apparel and accessories, with 80% of market share according to the 2016 Global Trend and Lifestyle Spending Report by CBNData. With access to more than 400 million consumers across the Alibaba platforms and housing more than 50,000 apparel brands, Tmall is set to grow alongside China’s online apparel and accessories industry, which is expected to exceed RMB1 trillion in sales in 2017.

At the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, style guru Nick Wooster, the image consultant of this year’s show, led a procession of top models including Sui He and Maye Musk, celebrated photographer Tommy Ton and top performers such as Chris Lee on-stage in front of the live and online audience.

Top brands from Burberry to Trussardi, Paul Smith to La Perla showed their latest offerings for the season on the runway while global brands such as Maserati, Guerlain, Rimowa, Vidal Sassoon and New Balance introduced their newest creations using the Tmall platform. Burberry also released a mist of its Mr Burberry cologne to promote the scent's debut on Tmall.

Streaming live on Mobile Taobao, Tmall.com and Youku, the show combined entertainment with a demonstration of Alibaba’s latest technological capability, to help brands engage with consumers in a fun, entertaining and intimate fashion. The live and online audiences could preorder items that were in the show by viewing the products on the Tmall and Taobao apps and tapping the “buy now” button. Orders placed during the eight-hour show and successfully executed on November 11 during the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival will enjoy steep discounts.
+Till November 11, more than 600 international brands will be streaming live broadcasts on Tmall to educate and excite targeted consumers about their brand and 11.11 product offerings.

+Alibaba will pilot “Buy+”, the world’s first complete virtual reality (VR) shopping experience, during this year’s 11.11 festival. Shoppers will be virtually transported to select retail stores internationally, and experience the entire shopping process from product selection to payment, all through VR.

+The 11.11 Global Shopping Festival Gala on November 10 will feature a series of interactive activities between brands and consumers to drum up excitement towards the countdown of 11.11.

Online to offline (O2O) initiatives
This year’s 11.11 will showcase Alibaba’s ability to seamlessly integrate data obtained online with offline activities, including marketplace data, logistics, media, and entertainment. Alibaba believes that the future of commerce is not pure e-commerce, but an integrated, holistic online and offline experience. Below are a few examples of the power of O2O during 11.11:

+Alibaba will release a location-based augmented reality (AR) mobile game about two weeks before November 11. Consumers can follow the Tmall Cat mascot on an adventure across the Alibaba online and offline retail ecosystem to earn special promotions and prizes. Participating merchants include Suning, Intime shopping malls, Beijing Joy City shopping mall, Shenzhen Coastal City shopping mall, as well as global brands such as Shanghai Disneyland, KFC and Starbucks.

+Alibaba is working with more than 1 million offline stores across various product categories to present consumers with an integrated online-to-offline experience across products, members and services.

Personalisation through big data
Each user will have a unique and highly-personalised shopping experience for 11.11 this year. Driven by data, everything from product recommendations, search results, newsfeeds, to user-generated content etc., will be specifically tailored to the individual consumer.

+Consumers will enjoy highly relevant products and content that meets their interest and lifestyles.

+Brands and retailers will have the ability to customise their storefronts, product selection and marketing materials targeted at different demographics. 

Buy globally, sell globally
Globalisation is a strategic long-term priority for Alibaba Group, with the 10-year goal of serving 2 billion consumers and supporting 10 million small businesses, brands and retailers globally. The 2016 11.11 Global Shopping Festival will take Alibaba another step forward in its globalisation strategy with its Buy Globally, Sell Globally initiative.

+Buy Globally: Alibaba is the premium gateway to China for international brands and merchants to sell quality international products and services to Chinese consumers.

+Sell Globally: Alibaba is introducing a new pilot programme to help global merchants sell beyond China. The company is in its early phases of expanding its infrastructure, including logistics and payments, in order to allow consumers overseas to purchase international products through Tmall. Hong Kong and Taiwan are the first markets outside mainland China where this will be available.

The 11.11 shopping festival began in 2009 with 27 merchants as an event for Tmall.com merchants and consumers to raise awareness of the value in online shopping. Seven years later, 11.11 has become a global event with participating merchants in the tens of thousands, buyers in the millions, and total sales in the billions.