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Singles’ Day: Chinese fashion brands overshadow the rest

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TD Reply on how the Chinese market responded to Singles’ Day 2021 and the trends that unfolded

We recently analyzed social media data from China to investigate which fashion brands generated the most buzz during Singles’ Day 2021. The analysis revealed that the Chinese are increasingly interested in domestic Chinese brands. A Chinese brand that is not yet well known managed to generate by far the most buzz on the world’s biggest shopping holiday.

As in previous years, China’s e-commerce platforms celebrated record sales following the Singles’ Day shopping holiday. Alibaba and JD’s combined sales hit the $139bn mark – a year-on-year increase of 35%.

One of the important product categories on Singles’ Day in terms of sales volume is fashion. One survey revealed that most Chinese consumers planning to spend money on Singles’ Day are most interested in fashion-related deals.

Against this background, we at TD Reply, a marketing and innovation consultancy headquartered in Berlin, investigated which fashion brands could garner the most attention or ‘buzz’ among Chinese internet users.

Buzz represents the amount of brand mentions in online discussions on social media, e-commerce and other platforms. The share of buzz for all relevant brands in a category reveals which brands generate the most attention relative to competitors. This metric can be a viable first indicator for brand awareness and sales success, which is particularly true in the context of shopping holidays.

We investigated the share of buzz for fashion brands in the premium segment (brands for clothing, shoes and accessories, excluding cosmetics brands) on the most important Chinese social media and e-commerce platforms. Based on this analysis, we ranked the top ten fashion brands that attracted the most attention on Singles’ Day in China.

Down jacket brand outperforms competition

While little known in the west, the Chinese brand Bosideng managed to attract the most attention by a wide margin, with a share of buzz of 36.2%. In China, the brand is mainly known for its down jackets. Bosideng’s large share of buzz is clearly reflected in the brand’s sales figures. During this year’s Singles’ Day, Bosideng became the best-selling fashion brand on China’s largest B2C sales platform Tmall (part of the Alibaba Group). Compared to last year, it is said to have set a new sales record with total sales of over 2bn yuan across all channels.

Gucci was the second-most discussed brand (18.2% share of buzz). The Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning (4.5%) ranks third. Interestingly, a total of four Chinese fashion brands made it on to the list. In addition to Bosideng and Li-Ning, the Chinese sunglass brand Bolon (1.9%, 8th position) and the Chinese sportswear brand Anta Sports (1.4%, 10th position) are also featured in the top ten. Chinese brands are responsible for 48.1% of the buzz across all brands. Italian brands follow with a 29.5% share of total buzz.

China’s generation Z favors domestic brands

These results testify to a long-term trend: domestic brands are becoming more popular in China. A similar analysis we conducted last year (focusing on automotive brands) demonstrated that in China, domestic brands are already outperforming western competitors in terms of buzz. An increasing acceptance of Chinese brands among China’s gen Z could be at least partly responsible for this trend.

A recent white paper published by the Berlin-based streetwear platform Highsnobiety in cooperation with TD Reply takes a closer look at this phenomenon.

Young Chinese are much more patriotic when it comes to domestic brands than their parents were. For them, it is crucially important that a brand is firmly anchored in the Chinese cultural context, or at least shows a particularly high understanding of local cultural codes.

This is obviously something that is difficult to achieve for western brands, but it’s not impossible either. For instance, we noted that Gucci and Louis Vuitton are met with a very positive response among young Chinese, and well thought-out, culturally resonant marketing activities are a big part of the whole story. Both brands are also featured in the top ten, despite their luxury price tags.

Anja Kielmann, senior director at TD Reply.

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