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2020 Observing China Forum

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On Monday 16 November, AliResearch held 2020 "Observing China Forum" in Shanghai. Speeches and panel discussions focused on the evolution of 11.11 Global Shopping Festival as well as the acceleration of digitalization in light of the pandemic.

Alibaba's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival was typically a one-day event on Nov. 11. This year, 11 years after the first 11.11 Shopping Festival in 2009, Alibaba launched its first 11-day edition of 11.11 Shopping Festival, starting from the first day of Nov until Nov. 11th. According to Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, the extended promotion period "maximized the efficiency of resource allocation in terms of production, storage and logistics", as well as "balance supply and demand in a timely manner". Besides, brands and merchants were expecting the extended 11.11 Global Shopping Festival to recoup lost sales during the lockdown earlier this year.

This year's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival has once again achieved astonishing results: Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) generated on Alibaba's platforms during the 11-day period reached RMB498.2 billion (USD 74.1 billion), a 26% year-on-year increase compared to the same period last year. This year’s record-breaking result is more meaningful than ever as it is the first 11.11 Global Shopping Festival since the pandemic. It is a sign of a strong recovery of China’s economy as well as strong consumer confidence. The key to the success for both brands and merchants was digitalization, which has been further accelerated in light of the pandemic. Digitalization is no longer an option but rather a necessity for businesses.

Though international brands continued to dominate popular categories during this year’s 11.11 Shopping Festival, a number of emerging brands were on the rise. According to Alibaba, 357 emerging brands became top sellers in their respective subcategories, including Saturnbird, Perfect Diary, and Genki Forest. “Those emerging brands who have achieved success are the ones with three key traits: They provide quality products with unique selling points; they target at consumers’ unmet demand; they use distribution channels to communicate with consumers directly.” Daniel Zhang added that digitalization has changed the way brands communicate and educate consumers. Zhang Xiaoyang, co-founder of Genki Forest further emphasized that Genki Forest is different from traditional FMCG startups as it is more of an internet-originated brand. They built brand awareness online and use offline sales channels as a way of order fulfillment.

Looking into the future, Daniel Zhang along with other guests all mentioned that change is the only constant. Consumers’ needs are changing rapidly. Companies and merchants need to be more agile to better serve the young generation.

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