On China’s biggest shopping day, aka Singles’ Day, it took Alibaba 52 seconds to reach 1 billion RMB ($150 million) in sales. In less than seven minutes, the retail giant had sold 10 billion RMB ($1.5 billion) worth of merchandise. By the end of the holiday, that had risen to more than 120.7 billion ($17 billion). But what was surprising in this year’s Singles’ Day – based on reports from our Head of APAC Research Danielle Bailey – was the emphasis of shopping as entertainment dubbed as Entertainmerce.

During the gala and festival held on the evening of Singles’ Day (which Danielle attended), 2.6 billion games were played at the event and online on Tmall storefronts. The gala included a five-hour show created by the producers of the halftime show, which was supposed to be headlined by Katy Perry (no show). Kobe Bryant, Scarlett Johansson, David and Victoria Beckham took the stage as well as brands like Burberry, Victoria’s Secret, and Smart Cars. Victoria’s Secret ran a mini Angels Fashion Show starring model He Sui and Burberry held a virtual trench coat giveaway in addition to a show. And Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma performed a magic trick as part o the program.

Virtual reality played a large role in festival as well, as headsets were able to transport attendees to shopping centers in other parts of the world.

Top-selling brands were Apple, Nike, New Balance, Adidas, and Ugg, showing the dominance of American products and sportswear.

As shown in the graph below, Singles’ Day sales growth is tapering despite the scale. However, the presence of brands, stars and new shopping formats show the day will remain relevant as a measure of retail innovation and trends.

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