“Going Green” on Singles’ Day goes Hand-in-Hand with an Environmental Sense of the Chinese Masses

Four ones, or more precisely, double eleven in date (11.11.) falls to this Monday this year, which began more than twenty years ago as an innocent tradition of single students, is now one of the most important days of the year for Chinese business.

There is no need to circuitously introduce China´s Alibaba company. Its last year´s listing posted $30.8 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV), with nearly 180,000 participating brands, marking the biggest single-day sales event in recorded history. That is nearly a 400X growth since the first year when gross sales stood at $7.8 million.  The charismatic founder and former CEO of Alibaba (today Daniel Zhang since 2015), Jack Ma, a former English teacher, by the way, was almost nearly known the same as Mark Zuckerberg. Alibaba, or 1688 (Yīliùbābā – according to Mandarin numbers), may be known thanks to AliExpress, through which products can be bought online from China to all over the world. However, the Chinese buy through Taobao.com and Tmall.com.

Double Eleven or Singles’ Day

Double Eleven does not indicate a double portion of beer and also has nothing to do with football. This is the term (双 十一) that Alibaba patented in 2012, after making of the innocent feast of singles, to the largest shopping holiday in China. Originally, the date 11.11. was a kind of anti-Valentine propaganda, a celebration of the freedom of the singles who were meeting in hopes for an eventual future relationship. Because, as only one child was politically allowed in China, then a serious problem appeared in terms of gender disproportionality. Parents’ cultural preferences for boys led to that many of these singles will keep being single for their lifetime.

A typical meal of this day is an oil-fried dough stick (油条), which resembles a number one that is writing in China without a caret on the top and looks like this I. This unhealthy stick is usually dipped in soy milk and is commonly consumed for breakfast in China. But November 11th is no longer just about the stick and people without partners, but also about the shopping mania for everyone who is accompanied by this day.

What Happens a Second after Midnight

For the first time, Alibaba began promoting this “holiday” in 2009, and gradually conquered consumers in China from year to year. Alibaba cleverly used this day, which is known especially among the younger generation, like in the past, events such as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day were broadcast commercially. This year’s expectations are high and advertising for this single day in China is ubiquitous.

This year, when the festival enters the second decade, Alibaba plans to focus on ‘new consumption’, ‘new business’ and actively contributing to a greener society. “Our goal is to stimulate consumer demand and promote the improvement of lifestyle in China through new brands and products,” said Fan Jiang, President Taobao, and Tmall. (Taobao and Tmall are the e-commerce platforms owned and operated by Alibaba.) More than 200,000 brands are expected to be the part of the 2019 festival. Also, over 70 countries are expected to participate (Russia, Italy, Spain, Turkey), much an emphasis on smaller merchants from within China. They will offer a selection of one million new products to over half of a billion shoppers, an increase of almost 100 million compared to 2018.

Recent data indicate, that despite the Chinese-US trade conflict, the Chinese shopping appetite is still high and forecasts predict the 2019 event will be its largest yet.

Singles’ Day This Year would be Eco-friendly with the ‘Green’ Mission

By looking at the huge range of this shopping festival, it is necessary to take into account its environmental impact. This could be due to the packaging materials used for the transportation of goods, as well as the higher energy consumption of company data centers when processing such a large number of online orders. In particular, Cainiao, which is Alibaba’s logistics network, delivered more than one billion packages last year during Singles day.

An allegation of Alibaba stated that Cainiao and its partners will make a special recycling day for cardboard packaging on 20 November and hope to turn 75,000 locations into permanent recycling stations. Customers who recycle will be motivated through green energy points in Alipay’s Green Initiative mini-program, Ant Forest.

The company also claims that on November 11 it will save 200,000 kilowatts of energy with powering its data centers by renewable energy and energy-saving technologies such as liquid-cooled servers.

“Given its scale, minimizing the environmental impact is essential, and our technology will ensure it is a green 11.11 Global Shopping Festival,” said Fan Jiang, president of Taobao and Tmall.

It is noteworthy, that more and more enterprises will follow the lead of Alibaba in adopting more sustainable ways to enhance their brand loyalty among Chinese consumers. It also seems that several brands in China would soon launch their official stores in the country’s re-commerce websites to make recycling an integral part of the customer’s shopping experience. 

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