How time flies. We are close to celebrating yet another “Single’s Day” festival. Although there’s been remarks about Chinese consumer’s consumption power heading downhill. However, judging from people’s shopping cart screenshots and other posts about preparing for the “annual shopping battle,” it seems that this year’s “Single’s Day” is still going to be good for Jack Ma.
Jack Ma said during an interview around this time last year that online shopping revenue is going to continue its high-speed growth trend for another 3-5 years following 2017. According to industry insiders, although the year-over-year sales number jump might not be as huge as 39.35% from last year, Alibaba still estimated its single-day sales this year on 11.11 to be around 200 billion RMB. ASKCI Corporation, a leading research firm, puts the number at 190 billion RMB, demonstrating similar confidence.
While the sales number keep hitting new record high, Alibaba’s broadcasting program “T-mall Single’s Day Carnival Night” has also improved a lot in recent years.
The first “T-mall Single’s Day Carnival Night” program was jointly produced by Alibaba and Hunan television and directed by famous director Feng Xiaogang. In 2016 and 2017, Alibaba invited one of the Super Bowl producers David Hill to oversee the program. Now the annual “T-mall Single’s Day Carnival Night” at the Shanghai Mercedes Benz Cultural Center has become one of the biggest commercial live event brand names in China.
The program opens at 7:30 pm on November 11th, with billions of consumers waiting in from of the screen with their full shopping carts and their electronic devices, ready for the “Black Friday” of China.
Unlike the past two years’ program which replicated the style and presentation of the Super Bowl, this year’s program seems more “localized.” The programming included a lot of Chinese pop culture references such as the game “red on blue” from popular Chinese variety show Keep Running and Go Fighting!, and invited hot artists such Lay (Yixing) Zhang, Mao Buyi, Wu Jinyan, Qin Lan and Mariah Carey, who has become a popular meme in China, to perform.
Besides keeping themselves awake before items go on sale at midnight by watching celebrities perform, the audience also watched the show to get deeper discounts. Taobao opened up 7 live streaming channels for the program and embedded different benefits in these channels. As long as consumers follow instructions in their specific channel, they get additional discounts. Alibaba added online channels for this year’s broadcast and eliminated some satellite television channels. It is broadcasted on Zhejiang television, Dragon television and Youku live streaming.
All the effort and investments that went into “T-mall Single’s Day Carnival Night” paid off well. As of 9:30 pm, more than 32 million people was watching the live broadcast at the same time on one channel. The other live channels also have viewers up to several million. The celebrities would go to different live streaming channels to promote different products after performing at the main stage. Creatively utilizing celebrities, discount coupons and technology, Alibaba keeps its viewers engaged.
The mainstage performance was divided into four modules with four different themes, and placed different products according to the theme, achieving higher effectiveness. For example, the third module is about family and Coco Li performed Disney medley before Mickey Mouse came up to the stage and danced.
We can see that the online retailing is getting used to the new online entertainment ecosystem that includes music, short videos, and innovative fun ways of product placement.
Whenever music becomes part of a marketing campaign, we worry that the artistic value of music and live performance will be overshadowed by the smell of money in these promotional events.
Luckily, this year’s performance is more “pure” than last year. Artists mostly performed their work instead of brand promotion material. Most of the brand promotion that artists participated in were placed in the live streaming chatrooms or sub-venues instead of the main stage performance.
Going from a copycat of the Super Bowl to localized programming and multi-channel broadcasting, the “T-mall Single’s Day Carnival Night” annual gala has found its own way.
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