Chinese Marketers Create the Best Fake Holidays

Single…and loving it!

Here in the U.S., lots of people get upset as Black Friday campaigns grow bigger and start earlier each year.

But when it comes to fake holidays that double as marketing campaigns, the Chinese retail industry has us beat—and it’s not even close.

Alibaba, which owns Tmall and other e-commerce sites, first latched onto so-called Singles’ Day, symbolized by the four lonely 1s of 11/11, five years ago

Just as we’re experiencing a Black Friday backlash (or so we’re told), Singles Day emerged as an anti-Valentines Day protest in a country marked by a well-publicized gender divide that left millions of unattached college-aged guys wondering why marketers didn’t show them any love.

While retail brands may not have come up with the idea, Alibaba was quick to grab it and hold on for lots of sweet, sweet profits:

On Monday, China’s biggest online shopping company processed more than $5.75 billion in its online payments system — a record for a single day anywhere in the world

They did it by taking the fake holiday well beyond its original meaning and using it to pitch products to everyone, whether they’re “spoken for” or not.

China is set to overtake the United States this year as the largest online shopping market in the world, according to Forrester Research

An Ogilvy China rep said that some of the firm’s area clients “generate 15 to 30 percent of their annual sales on Singles’ Day alone”

Of course, one of the ways they’ve done that is with social media marketing, and given the fact that China’s Tencent and its messaging app WeChat is poised to pass Facebook as the world’s largest social network, it should be interesting to watch marketers master the tricks of the trade.

Any advice?