Alibaba keeps a low profile for singles day

A long advertising campaign, a gala evening with Chinese stars, and some international celebrities, like the English actor Benedict Cumberbatch: before the kick

Alibaba keeps a low profile for singles day

A long advertising campaign, a gala evening with Chinese stars, and some international celebrities, like the English actor Benedict Cumberbatch: before the kick

TheEditor
TheEditor
26 November 2021 Friday 00:00
181 Reads
Alibaba keeps a low profile for singles day

A long advertising campaign, a gala evening with Chinese stars, and some international celebrities, like the English actor Benedict Cumberbatch: before the kickoff of the now famous "Singles day", everything almost looked normal. Until midnight: because the 2021 edition of the largest sales campaign in the world organized by Alibaba has missed one of the elements that kept the excitement going: the real-time display of sales figures during the twenty-four hours of the event. In previous years, billions accumulated over the course of hours, to beat the record set the previous edition. But the campaign to regulate digital companies, launched a year ago in China, has changed the game: it's no longer time to celebrate the excesses of capitalism. The first victim of this campaign, Alibaba is keeping a low profile.

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The firm had announced the color with the few gifts sent with its communication to analysts: a recycled paper notebook, a reusable bag, a cup painted by disabled children ... Let it be said, Alibaba is a virtuous company. Rather than celebrating the ever-higher sales figures, China's number one online retailer is highlighting its social and environmental responsibility efforts. According to the company, the effort goes beyond "goodies": it highlights the recycling possibilities for packaging hundreds of millions of packages sent in recent days, the online release of an age-appropriate version of Taobao, its flagship platform, and 100 million yuan of coupons oriented to the purchase of "green" products. On September 2, Alibaba had promised 100 billion yuan (14 billion euros) for projects related to "common prosperity," a slogan announced earlier by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which covers redistribution efforts.

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In 2020, Alibaba had spread the event over eleven days to reduce the pressure on sellers and logistics. Enough to achieve 498 billion yuan (64.5 billion euros) in sales, for Alibaba's platforms alone, and more than 770 billion with JD.com, China's number two in online commerce. But the festival had coincided with the cancellation in extremis of the IPO of Ant Group, the financial subsidiary of Alibaba. Since then, the Chinese authorities have increased regulations, investigations and fines against Chinese digital giants. In April, Alibaba was fined a record 18.2 billion yuan for abuse of dominance, including for imposing exclusivity on many merchants.

"The decision not to publish the sales figures live suggests that the main e-commerce platforms believe that this consumer display would be inappropriate given the theme of "common prosperity" currently promoted, says Michael Norris, head of strategy for Agency China, a consulting firm in Shanghai. This choice may appease local sensitivities but, without careful management, it risks scaring off foreign investors, already worried about Alibaba's growth potential. "The group is due to report its third-quarter results on November 18, two weeks later than usual. Alibaba has lost 39% of its market value since a peak in February.

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Updated: 26.11.2021 00:00
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