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1. What is Singles’ Day?

What is Singles' Day? Pro tips for retail success

We've all heard about Valentine's Day, but did you know there's a day for single people too? Singles’ Day is one of the biggest shopping events in China, taking place on November 11th every year. It was originally created as a celebration for single people to get together and celebrate their independence. But over the years it has evolved into an online retail phenomenon with ecommerce stores offering discounts and promotions to lure shoppers.

For ecommerce stores in Europe and North America, Singles’ Day is an emerging sales opportunity you can’t miss. We've put together some tips for you to make the most of this upcoming Singles’ Day and boost sales.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Celebrated on November 11th, Singles’ Day started in 1993 at Nanjing University in China as a counterpart to Valentine's Day to celebrate the joys of being single.

  • Originally a Chinese phenomenon, Singles’ Day has expanded its reach globally, with notable sales growth in countries like the UK, Italy, Spain, the U.S., and France.

  • Singles’ Day has since surpassed Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day combined in terms of total worldwide sales.

  • Ecommerce stores aiming to tap into this opportunity should start marketing early, leverage the emotional side of the day, create product ranges that celebrate the theme, and use social media to engage their audience.

  • For a successful Singles’ Day campaign, stores can consider selling cozy hoodies, custom t-shirts, mugs, calendars, cards, and inspirational wall art themed around self-love and the joy of being single!

singles day

What is Singles’ Day?

Singles’ Day started in 1993 as an antidote to Valentine's Day. It's not clear who exactly created this special day, but its origins can be traced to the student dorms of Nanjing University in China. A group of singletons were said to have come together on 11/11 to celebrate their freedom from romantic entanglements. This date was chosen based on the four solitary 1's that make up the numerical date 11/11.

In 2009, this unofficial event began to really take off when the CEO of ecommerce giant Ali Baba decided to offer discounts and promotions to shoppers on this day. Since then, Singles’ Day has grown into one of the biggest shopping events in the world. Annual sales on this day are worth more than Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day combined!

Singles’ Day facts and figures

Here are some interesting facts and figures about Singles’ Day:

  • Singles’ Day has grown 1,080,000% since it turned into a retail event in 2009, and 8% since 2020.

  • In 2021, over 900 million Chinese shoppers flocked to Ali Baba for their 2-week long Singles’ Day sales event.

  • In the same year, Ali Baba sold $84.5 billion worth of goods during Singles’ Day promotions, which is almost seven times the amount for Amazon on Prime Day.

  • Singles’ Day is no longer confined to China. In 2021, Singles’ Day sales were worth £1.72 billion in the UK.

  • Singles’ Day is slowly growing in Europe too. In 2021, sales figures grew in Italy, Spain, and France by 80%, 68%, and 57% respectively.

singles day tips

11 Tips for selling on Singles’ Day outside China

Introducing a new commercial event to your customer base might feel daunting, but every special retail day started this way! Valentine's Day and Black Friday are both relatively recent retail phenomena, so there's no reason why Singles’ Day can't take off in the West. Approximately 35% of British adults and 31% of their American counterparts are single, so this day has big potential. Here are some tips to get you started on selling for Singles’ Day.

1. Start your marketing early

Since your customer base may not be familiar with Singles’ Day, you need to start building anticipation earlier than usual. Two to three weeks before the big day is a great time to start promoting, whether it's through email campaigns or social media. This could include running competitions, offering discounts for early birds, or just generally promoting Singles’ Day as the biggest shopping event of the year.

Take this time as a chance to educate your customers about the day and why it's a great time to shop. You could share the origin story of the day or share how other customers have celebrated in the past.

2. Give a sneak peek or start a countdown 

The build-up to Singles’ Day is as crucial as the day itself. Start by teasing your customers with glimpses of what's in store. This could be in the form of behind-the-scenes looks at new designs, interviews with yourself or the designer, or even showcasing the creative process. As the day approaches, ramp up the excitement with a countdown.

This could be a digital clock on your website or daily posts on social media. With every tick, remind your customers of the amazing deals and exclusive products that await them. The combination of anticipation and exclusivity can be a powerful motivator to get customers excited and ready to shop. 

3. Tap into the emotional side

Since Singles’ Day is a way to celebrate being single and to treat yourself, your messaging should reflect this spirit of self-care, inclusion, and empowerment. It's a day to feel confident and cherish your independence, so you can tap into this feel-good mindset with your marketing.

For instance, you could share stories from different relatable singles on how they choose to spend the day and what it means to them. You can also use phrases like "Treat yourself this Singles’ Day!" and offer incentives for singles to buy something special for themselves. The key is to make customers feel appreciated and empowered, rather than highlighting the lonelier side being single.

4. Get creative with your product range

Singles’ Day is all about having fun and expressing yourself, so use this as an opportunity to show off your creative side. Think of products that will help customers celebrate themselves. Humour is a great way to connect with customers on Singles’ Day, so use it liberally!

Consider offering exclusive deals on clothing, mugs, or totes specifically designed for Singles’ Day. Think about how your customers might want to treat themselves and make it easier for them to do so. You could offer discounts on gifts they can buy themselves, like a t-shirt, mug or a new personalized phone case.

5. Leverage your social channels

Social media is a great way to spread the word about your Singles’ Day promotions. Produce unique content for each platform, tailored to the audience and tone of voice used there. You can use influencers or ambassadors to share your message with their followers and help you reach new customers.

Is there a well-known single influencer who aligns with your brand values? Forge a partnership where they create content around the joys of being single. It could encourage customers to share their stories too in the form of user generated content (UGC), which has greater viral potential.

Don't forget to use the right hashtags in your posts too. #singlesday2023 or #singlesdaydeals are just two of many you can use to get your message out there. Get creative and see what resonates with your audience!

6. Generate excitement through gamification

Gamify your Singles’ Day promotions by running competitions or offering discounts for customers who complete specific tasks. This could include sharing a post on social media, answering survey questions, or taking a picture of themselves wearing something related to the day. Not only will this generate more interest in your products, but it will also offer customers a fun way to engage with your brand.

Keep the rules simple and make sure there are plenty of prizes available – everyone loves winning something! By engaging more of your audience, you can spread the word about your Singles’ Day promotions farther and wider.

7. Offer special Singles Day deals

People love a good discount, which is where special Singles’ Day deals come in. Since Singles’ Day is on the 11th of November, it's common in Asia to offer discounts in the form of 11%, 22% or 33%. Choose the right discounts based on your individual business and target margins.

You can also get creative by offering "Singles’ Bundles" featuring products related to the holiday. For example, your Singles’ Bundle might include a matching t-shirt, hat, and hoodie - all for one discounted price. Free shipping is another great way to get people excited to shop with you.

8. Create a loyalty rewards program

Loyalty programs are a fantastic way to reward your regular customers and entice new ones. For a special occasion like Singles' Day, consider introducing a loyalty program where customers earn points for their purchases. But don't stop there. Spice it up with double points for certain items or bonus points for sharing their shopping experience on social media.

As these points accumulate, customers can redeem them for discounts, special items, or exclusive deals. This not only drives up sales on the day itself but also ensures customers have a reason to come back to your store, making it a win-win! 

9. Promote the idea of self-gifting on Singles’ Day

Singles’ Day is all about self-love, but it's also a great opportunity to market gifts to you, from you. Since many people in Europe and North America are not yet familiar with the day, you might need to take some extra steps to explain the concept and show how splurging on yourself  is all part of the celebration.

You could create social media ads that feature people celebrating being single, like a #treatyourself unboxing, or post stories of happy singles enjoying #singlesday.  Shower yourself with love and buy that gift you know you’ll love, on Singles’ Day and every day in between.

10. Engage customers post-purchase

The relationship with your customers doesn't end once they've made a purchase. After an event like Singles’ Day, it's important to try to keep the momentum going. Reach out to your buyers and invite them to be a part of your brand's story by sharing pictures of their new items.

This gesture not only strengthens the bond between your brand and the customer but also creates a shared community experience. Sharing these images and stories on your platform can act as a testament to your product's appeal. And when customers talk about their purchases, their circle of friends and family listens. This organic word-of-mouth marketing can pave the way for bigger and better Singles’ Day sales in the coming years.

11. Analyze and iterate for next year

Singles’ Day is just one day, but its impact can offer lessons for a whole year. After the event concludes, take a step back and review how things went. Take a close look at your sales data, read customer reviews, and monitor online engagement. What products were favorites? Where could service have been better? Which marketing strategies drew the most attention?

Getting answers to these questions will help you refine your approach for the future. For instance, if your clothing line got a lot of attention, consider introducing more designs the following year. On the other hand, if a certain promotion falls flat, brainstorm on how to innovate. Every year offers a chance to make the next Singles’ Day bigger and better.  


What products should I sell on Singles’ Day?

Now that you have some inspiration for your Singles’ Day marketing strategies, let's talk about what products you can promote for the special day. With Gelato as your print-on-demand partner, there's a huge selection of products to choose from. Here are some ideas below.

Cozy Hoodies for nights in

Comfy hoodies are always a great choice for Singles’ Day. You could personalize them with creative slogans and artwork or simply promote your most popular designs. What better way to keep warm and treat yourself? They're also unisex, so you can appeal to a wide audience.

Custom T-Shirts that celebrate self-love

Let your customers celebrate Singles’ Day with custom t-shirts! They could feature your regular designs, or you could create something new just for Singles’ Day. T-shirts are a universal self-gift for both guys and girls, and there are so many ways to  get really creative with designs and colors.

Mugs for morning coffee or tea

Mugs are another great product to promote on Singles’ Day. They make a great gift, whether someone is buying it for themselves or a single loved one. Personalize them with witty sayings and they’ll be a hit.

Inspirational and empowering Calendars

Calendars are perfect for the busy single on Singles’ Day. They make a great gift for anyone looking to start the new year off right, and with Singles’ Day landing right before December, it can be the perfect time to start planning for the next year.


Why partner with Gelato for Singles’ Day?

Gelato is the perfect choice for people looking to create customized products that will help spread positivity and empowerment on Singles’ Day. Partner with us to offer your customers personalized calendars, cards, apparel, wall art, and more featuring your brand's unique designs.

As an added bonus, we have an enormous network of 130+ local print and delivery partners based across 32 countries. It means you can sell internationally without the extra cost and carbon footprint of long-distance shipping. So no matter where your customers are, you can offer them a fast and reliable delivery service at the most competitive prices.

With Gelato, the possibilities for Singles’ Day creativity are endless. Start planning now to make the most of this special day and help your customers spread the message of self-love!

Singles’ Day FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Singles’ Day.

When is Singles’ Day?

Singles’ Day is celebrated on the 11th of November each year, otherwise referred to as 11/11. The single 1s symbolize being single and thanks to their appearance it's also referred to as the "bare sticks holiday" in China.

When did Singles’ Day start?

Singles’ Day was created in 1993 by a group of students at Nanjing University in China as a counterpart to the Valentine's Day celebration. It has since grown into one of the world's largest shopping events.

Where is Singles’ Day popular?

Singles’ Day is most popular in China, with other countries and regions such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam now taking part. It's also becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and Europe.

Is Singles’ Day bigger than Black Friday?

Yes! Singles’ Day is the world's largest shopping event, surpassing even Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day.

How is Singles’ Day celebrated?

Singles’ Day is celebrated by single people around the world with a general theme of self-love and independence. Many singles treat themselves with special gifts, activities, or experiences. Brands also take part in Singles’ Day celebrations, often offering exclusive discounts and promotions aimed at single customers.


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