Global consumer brands, including Mars Wrigley and Royal Canin, are leveraging 11.11, the world’s largest shopping event, to better connect with Chinese shoppers.
The 14th 11.11 kicked off on Monday on Alibaba Group’s B2C marketplace Tmall with the first of two pre-sale periods continuing until 8 pm Beijing time on Oct. 31. Millions of consumers take the opportunity to shop for home essentials, apparel, food and more.
“We want 11.11 to be a platform for brands to showcase their innovation capabilities,” said Chui Xue, President of the Industry Development and Operation Center of digital marketplaces Taobao and Tmall, at a media briefing on Wednesday.
The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry is evolving rapidly. Companies have to respond rapidly to changing consumer tastes and bring products to market swiftly, or lose out to more fleet-footed rivals.
Chocolate maker and seasoned 11.11 participant Mars Wrigley worked with Alibaba to bring new products to market, while festival veteran Royal Canin, also a member of the Mars Inc family, is using the promotion to reach a new generation of pet owners in China through education materials and membership programs.
For 11.11 debutants like Australian probiotics brand Inner Health, the promotion is a chance to grow their consumer base in China and better understand the complex marketplace.
“It is a great opportunity to test whether our strategy is successful or not,” said Icy Huang, China Marketing Director of Inner Health, during the virtual news briefing.
Over 290,000 brands are participating in Alibaba’s 2022 11.11 Global Shopping Festival. About 40,000 merchants from over 90 countries and regions will offer products from close to 7,000 categories.
Alibaba’s product development arm Tmall Innovation Center (TMIC) helps brands launch products to meet specific consumer needs.
“Working with TMIC incubating new products will help us break some bottlenecks, attracting people who were not used to consuming chocolate,” Anya Yang, Digital Marketing Group Leader – Alibaba, Mars Wrigley, told media guests.
The partnership has enabled Mars to understand Chinese consumers’ preference for less sweet confectionaries.
The confectionery brand released chocolate products in the Chinese market for this 11.11, including a sugar-free dark chocolate and a crispy snack that took less than eight months to develop with TMIC’s help, instead of the typical 24 months. Dark chocolate is less sweet than milk or white varieties.
And the exploration process is ongoing.
“We will continue researching the factors influencing decision-making along the consumer shopping journey in every sector and product category,” said Chui.
Loyalty programs are gaining steam on Alibaba platforms as a way to boost brand development, and companies stand to reap the benefits during the 11.11 sale season.
“Some 600 merchants have more than 1 million members in their programs. These loyal members have contributed more than 40% of brands’ sales growth,” noted Alibaba’s Chui Xue.
These merchants include French pet brand Royal Canin, whose members have accounted for more than half of sales on its Tmall flagship store. During Tmall’s 6.18 Mid-Year Shopping Festival this year, Royal Canin saw its active members increase by 15%.
Its membership program is tailored to human and animal clients alike.
Royal Canin has developed science-based and targeted nutrition for pets alongside TMIC, and shares its 50 years of scientific knowledge and experience in caring for pets with its members. The brand discovered that many of its customers in China had only had pets for under a year and were eager for information.
“Pet owners can log their pet’s age, species and we can jointly kick start a more scientific and targeted feeding [regimen] for the better health of their pets,” said Claire Sun, Omni-SPT Associate Marketing Director at Royal Canin.