November 11th, or 11.11, or “Singles Day” is one of the biggest shopping days in the world and testament to Alibaba’s power and scale.
Jack Ma didn’t invent the holiday (it began as a playful custom with university students), nor does Alibaba wield a monopoly on its celebration. But Alibaba’s full-throttled embrace of Singles Day transformed November 11th into a multibillion-dollar juggernaut of consumerism that dwarfs Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. It’s grown so big that Singles Day sales have begun to pop up in the US in recent years.
In China, the event is a multifaceted spectacle. During the actual shopping period, Alibaba broadcasts a live show with Jack Ma sharing the stage with international celebrities. The day is not all Alibaba’s either. Chinese e-commerce rival JD also makes a hefty footprint on November 11th—in 2018 it reported about $23 billion in sales on 11.11, compared to Alibaba’s $30 billion.