Humphrey Ho
Nov 10, 2022

How brands can combat a recession through Singles Day

The managing director of Hylink on three takeaways for brands this 11/11 season.


Western brands have finally welcomed the unofficial Chinese holiday, aka ‘Double Eleven’ or 11/11. Last year, more than 250,000 brands participated in Singles Day and generated approximately $139 billion for Alibaba in 2021. This year, the holiday will be celebrated everywhere by brands, and some have made gamification in the buying process a staple to obtain more consumer insights and an opportunity to trend on social media. For others, the day is also seen as a solution to increase revenue during uncertain times. 

Brands can takeaway three tactics that they can use in any ecommerce and sales holiday from Singles Day: 


A key concept of economics contributing to supply and demand is used by brands during Singles Day via pre-order sales. During this period, successful brands from Telsa to Ralph Lauren have effectively used pre-order campaigns starting 10 business days before the official holiday, ensuring that more transactions would occur on Singles Day. For luxury brands, this is an opportunity to participate in the day’s excitement by offering a limited-edition product or launching a new SKU instead of a discount. 

If used properly, pre-buying/pre-booking sort of pre-activity allows product managers to have a very clear assessment of product success before the sales day itself. Meaning last minute adjustments to inventory levels can still be made. Should product sell out from a pre-booking standpoint is great for uncertain times because you need predictability.


We are at the point of ecommerce where coupons are considered passé. So, on Singles Day, many brands will require their consumers to complete tasks such as provide a visual of how the product would improve your life. Yes, this makes consumers have to work for their discounts, and some may be turned off. You still need to go to the dollar store because they don’t deliver. If you want a dollar store discount, you have to go to the dollar store. Like the dollar store, there’s going to be an opportunity cost for the consumer who is just looking for a deal. The solution is a tiered discount system, where those who participate are greatly rewarded with additional discounts, and the others would receive the basic. 

Instant gratification

Some Singles Day categories such as fast-fashion clothing can afford to be 90% contributing to the shock value. However, for others, such as luxury brands or non-fast fashion, there is brand value to protect. These brands have traditionally done two things: allowing returns and instant gratification. Immediate or next-day shipping and returns provide consumers with efficient and quality service that they value. In turn, satisfying instant gratification. 

Like Black Friday and Christmas Day, the day after Singles Day is a day of a million returns. Brands should also see this as another ecommerce opportunity. Let’s call it ecommerce Boxing Day where brands can resell the returns for a discounted prices. This is not as good as Singles Day deals but still considered a win for both the consumer and the brand. Like Boxing Day but online, this could be seen as a continued holiday with great deals. For brands, it would be the 3rd ecommerce event before the end of the year and satisfy sales targets.

Humphrey Ho is managing director of Hylink USA. 

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