According to Alibaba, the gross merchandise volume of China’s top e-commerce event Singles Day was more than double the sales of Cyber Monday and Black Friday combined. Also known as 11.11, Singles Day has become an important marketing opportunity for brands as they pull out all the stops to get online shoppers’ attention. Gartner L2’s Singles Day analysis recently looked at the marketing strategies of this year’s top 10 best-selling beauty brands on Alibaba’s Tmall during the 11.11 festival to pinpoint the key trends leading to their success:

Cross-platform promotions

Brands that leveraged multiple online and offline channels for Singles Day promotions saw their efforts pay off. Lancôme was the highest-selling beauty brand on Tmall for the event, after its Singles Day items were promoted on Weibo, RED, in an offline Beijing pop-up, and Tmall’s livestream platform, where the brand broadcast a video from an installation it created at the Eiffel Tower in Paris just for Singles Day.

Celebrity and KOL engagement

Lancôme’s promotions across multiple channels benefited from the fact that it featured mega-celebrities including boy-band heartthrob Wang Junkai and actress Zhou Dongyu. The use of pop idols from China’s hit “Idol-making” shows also helped brands become top sellers thanks to the celebrities’ ability to generate high social engagement and visibility for brand promotions.

Driving social to commerce

Thanks to Weibo and Tmall’s partnership, successful brands prioritized Weibo over WeChat to convert social engagement to sales. SK-II, the number five best-selling beauty brand on Singles Day, took advantage of Weibo’s e-commerce posts to drive to Tmall, but linked its WeChat posts to close WeChat partner JD.com because direct linking to Tmall is blocked on that platform.

Limited-edition and hero products

Highlighting a specific product was a main strategy for top beauty brands. These included celebrity-branded, limited-edition collaboration products or best-selling hero products. Olay, the second-highest selling beauty brand on Tmall, emphasized its product nicknamed the “Little White Bottle.” The Weibo topic #Buy Little White Bottle on 11.11# gained over 100,000 discussions and 130 million views.

Teaming up with Tmall 

With Tmall’s role as a product discovery platform for shoppers, Singles Day sales leaders prioritized media investments within the Tmall platform, while also offering Tmall pre-sale samples and coupons and collaborating with Tmall on product development. A total of 330 new products have been developed in Tmall’s Innovation Center so far, and several brands debuted products for the first time on Singles Day.

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