Singles’ Day bigger than ever, but to what end?

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-11 23:03:01

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Editor's Note:

Thousands of millions of people celebrated the one-day shopping spree launched by Chinese e-commerce companies on Singles' Day, November 11. The e-commerce giant Alibaba, which turned the day, once a tongue-in-cheek celebration of singledom since it was on 11/11, into a commercial festival in 2009, generated $9.3 billion in sale last year. How does the shopping binge influence the Chinese society and economy? The Global Times has collected three opinions on the matter.

Festival reflects role of market forces

Singles' Day is the first shopping festival created by market forces since China's reform and opening-up. It not only has a strong influence in China, but is now astounding the whole world. Millions of technicians, salespeople and thousands of millions of customers have involved in the event, establishing an interactive commercial system. This is a new phenomenon and also a test of China's comprehensive management.

Yet the e-commerce companies have performed very well so far. The prominent young Internet firms, represented by Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, are updating people's knowledge of China's ability in creating miracles in the market. As the market leaders, they are becoming the new landmarks in China's economy.

The dynamic mechanisms of Chinese society are changing. Previously, it was the system that pushed forward major projects or movements. Yet, at present, the market has become more powerful in mobilizing and coordinating different resources. In some cases, the market performs better than the system. For instance, the Singles' Day shopping festival, which seems to have great potential in the future, has been created entirely by the market.

It seems that most of the State-run projects are not able to compete with the private ones online. This phenomenon may be due to intrinsic "freedom" of the Internet. Bureaucracy is hard to eradicate from State actions.

The new dynamic mechanism is parallel or crossing with the previous system-centered mechanism. These are the deep social changes brought about by China's reform. These changes may be the real foundation for a diversified Chinese society.

Globalization and the Internet have transformed the whole world. All the countries and nations seem to be aimless, drifting with the current. With a number of new elements coming into being, we, in many cases, are overwhelmed by the question of whether it is China or the surrounding environment that has changed.

China is widely perceived as a winner in globalization. Realism may be the magic weapon for us to succeed in the competition. Every step that China has taken since its reform and opening-up is good and realistic. The non-governmental innovations have realized the maximum communication and coordination with the system. The system, in return, approves non-governmental innovations, which have reflected the system's appeals in most cases.

Global Times

Happiness drives people's spending fest

Ever since the Singles' Day online shopping fest emerged, there have been debates around it. This year is no exception. Some business insiders argued that we don't need such shopping festivals anymore. They admitted the day's driving role in China's e-commerce business, but believed it had nothing to offer in the new age.

But it's worth remembering the key to the online shopping fest is that it is not driven by administrative order or the monopoly of individual enterprises. Rather, it is an outcome of the free market.

November 11 was first called the Singles' Day, while now it is all about shopping. For the public, both are associated with happiness, which is the essence of life. This is the fundamental reason that this Double 11 festival should not end. Compared with happiness, "record-breaking sales" or "stimulating consumption" are just utilitarianism.

Big shopping days are not exclusive for China. There are "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" overseas. A US expert on consumer behavior described such a carnival from the angle of consumers' happiness. He observed that people start thinking about what they're going to buy long before the day starts, and their sense of happiness will reach a peak only when they complete the order. Happiness comes from shopping itself rather than gaining an advantage. This is also the driving force for the ever mounting sales volume during the online shopping fest.

Besides offering a sense of happiness to the whole nation, China has become the most active market in global e-commerce. China is at a crossroads of economic transformation, and one of the directions is to turn from investment to consumption.

Along with the merits of "Internet Plus," it has become a highlight that can stimulate the potential of public consumption. Against the background of weakening export, plummeting investment and the economic downward trend, this online shopping fest plays a significant role in balancing the Chinese economy.

The influence of the day has even gone abroad. Some e-commerce websites in North America launched their "Singles' Day" sales to satisfy the needs of local Chinese communities. If the concept of the Singles' Day online shopping fest is exported abroad, this will serve as a successful test of the Chinese economy. A sluggish economy can never produce such vitality.

The Beijing News

Cheap goods, but what's the real price?

In a survey by the Beijing Youth Daily, 11 out of the 100 people interviewed admitted that they are "hands-chopping people," a term coined to refer to big online spenders who self-mockingly say that they would like to chop their hands off after buying too much online. On average they planed to spend over 10,000 yuan ($1,571) on this year's Singles' Day online shopping festival. Six of the 11 said they felt regret after shopping too much online, but they couldn't help themselves.

In a consumption society, online shopping is not only an economic activity, but also a lifestyle. It has strong vitality as an e-commerce business that combines the Internet and express delivery. Online shopping breaks the barriers of time and space, offering an unprecedented range of options to consumers while satisfying their demand for efficiency and speed. More importantly, consumers are given real discounts in online shopping.

The Chinese public now has diversified consumption demands. The November 11 has turned into a online shopping festival fuelled by commercial capital. However, too much of a fixation on online shopping will twist people's values, and cause deviation between cognition and behavior.

Online spenders are never bored with shopping on the Internet. In their eyes, online shopping is a wise and rational choice from which they gain the most benefits at a minimum cost. Unfortunately, they forget that unrestrained buying not only brings economic losses, but also cause family and social conflicts.

In an optimal situation, people make the best choice when they have enough information and make precise analytical judgment.

However, the fact is that consumers often make consumption decisions while suffering from information asymmetry. They are susceptible to a barrage of advertisements, thus often making irrational consumption decisions.

Online shopping is a double-sided sword. The problems with online shopping remind us of the importance of cultivating a healthy lifestyle and temperate consumption. We should broaden our entertainment, increase face to face contacts and spend more time outdoors. Only by this can we enjoy the benefits of new technology without the side effects.

Beijing Youth Daily

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