From insanity to “common prosperity”: Alibaba eases Singles Day

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Alibaba Group’s annual Singles Party (9988.HK) is expected to take on its more subdued tone this year, as the retail giant preaches sustainability rather than touting the usual sales boom amid calls from Beijing to promote “common prosperity”.

In 2020, Alibaba expanded what it calls the world’s largest online shopping festival from a one-day event on November 11 to an 11-day extravaganza, with celebrity performances and sales metering in live on a dashboard that ended with the news that he had racked up $ 74 billion in orders, or “gross value of goods” (GMV), flashing big and bright.

This time around, the event comes at a time of much tighter regulatory oversight for China’s biggest companies – including Alibaba – and the call to promote “common prosperity” and curb the excesses echoing in theaters. meeting. In 2021, Alibaba officially promotes “sustainable development” and “inclusiveness”.

While live streaming stars and big discounts will always play a big part in this year’s festivities, the company said its priorities this year are to encourage “environmentally responsible consumption” and ” support vulnerable populations “.

“We have moved from pure GMV growth to sustainable growth,” Marketing Director Chris Tung told reporters last week. He did not respond directly when asked if Alibaba plans to release the final GMV figure this year.

The environment has changed dramatically for China’s major e-commerce platforms – particularly Alibaba and its founder Jack Ma – as the Chinese government led by President Xi Jinping targets what was seen as excesses and abuses in the market. the country’s vast “platform economy”.

Chinese regulators last week said they asked e-commerce sites to tackle spam in the run-up to Singles Day. They also drafted a list of responsibilities they said they expected platform companies to adhere to, the latest in a series of regulatory warnings.

Amid the new regulatory intensity, Alibaba has responded.

In September, it announced that it would invest 100 billion yuan ($ 16 billion) by 2025 to support “common prosperity”, while in October it launched a version of its trading platform Taobao electronics suitable for the elderly.

For this year’s Singles Day, he also announced that he will develop new low-carbon products with partners and pledged to make charitable donations in addition to some purchases.

Responding to Reuters questions for this article, he said that “11.11 (Singles Day) is a powerful and influential platform that we will fully harness to advocate and drive our ESG (environmental, social and governance) initiatives this year”.

Alibaba-owned South China Morning Post newspaper last week quoted anonymous company officials as saying that Singles Day would not focus on the “typical sales, marketing and consumer showcase” in a report on a European “study tour” by Jack Ma pursuing his “passion for technology in agriculture”.

Still, the event is expected to generate a sales boon for traders as Chinese buyers seek deals amid slowing economic growth. Alibaba said a record 290,000 brands will participate and its Tmall marketplace will offer more than 14 million deals.


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