(This story was originally published by Internet Retailer)
China’s transition to a consumption-led economy from one reliant on investment and exports was on full display during the online sales event known as Singles Day, highlighting the growth opportunity for international brands and merchants.
This year during Alibaba’s Single’s Day, held Wednesday, many global names were among the best-selling brands, including U.S. brands Apple Inc., No. 11 in the Internet Retailer 2015 China 500; Gap Inc. (No. 207), Nike Inc. (No. 253) and Cadillac.
Alibaba says about 5,000 international brands from 25 countries offered Singles Day promotions. As a result, more than 33% consumers bought products from those international brands or merchants during the world’s largest online shopping festival, which generated $14.32 billion in sales on online marketplaces operated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., according to Alibaba.
Chinese consumers particularly like U.S. brands. Alibaba says the U.S. was the top seller of imported goods on Singles Day, followed by Japan, Korea, Germany and Australia.
Besides big and established U.S. brands, like Nike, which already see China as a long-term investment and set up offices there, new players used Singles Day to test the market and increase their branding.
Many of these new brands sell through Alibaba’s cross-border e-commerce marketplace Tmall Global, which helps more than 6,000 international brands sell into China without having to set up operations in the country.
Tmall global says one of its merchants is Costco, No. 11 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, which was the top seller on Singles Day on Tmall Global. The U.S. retailer sold about 20 million yuan ($3.14 million) worth of products in one hour.
Other U.S.-based top sellers on Tmall global include children’s product brand Huggies and online-only shoe retailer Sneakerhead.com, which is No. 746 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Second 500 Guide, according to Alibaba.
“As a new brand in China, InterDesign’s sales on Tmall grew about twentyfold on Singles’ Day. Consumers placed their orders much faster than usual. I thought we could sell more, and we may need to spend more on ads on Tmall in the future,” Chen Nimin, marketing manager for U.S. home decoration brand Interdesign, tells Internet Retailer.
U.S. retailer Macy’s, No. 7 in the Top 500, re-entered China by opening a Tmall store several days before Singles’ Day. “Macy’s has just begun its limited presence on Tmall Global in China,” a Macy’s spokesman says. “We are in a test-and-learn mode.”
Besides selling on Tmall, many U.S. brands and retailers worked with Chinese shopping recommendation sites to promote products on Singles’ Day. For example, more than 130 U.S. brands and retailers, including Nordstrom (No. 19 in the Top 500), Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Off 5th and Neiman Marcus (No. 43) worked with Chinese deal site Dealmoon.com to sell directly to Chinese consumers with specific Singles Day online coupons.
U.S. consumers also could obtain Singles’ Day discounts on several U.S. sites. This year, a few U.S. e-commerce companies, such as Newegg Inc. (No. 17 in the Top 500) and Nasty Gal Inc. (No. 112), offered Singles’ Day discounts for U.S. consumers. Some companies, including Jollychic, Newegg and Bonton, even bought Singles’ Day-related keywords on Google, according to data provided by online ads consulting company AdGooroo.
Here are the best-selling brands on Singles’ Day on Alibaba’s marketplaces, selling between 200 million yuan-1 billion yuan ($30 million-$150 million) worth of products, according to Alibaba:
Women’s & children’s products
Frank Tong is Internet Retailer’s senior editor for China.