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The tricky Double 11, How does it take my wallet away?


The past 11th September was the first Double Eleven Shopping Festival I’ve experienced in China. Of cause, I’ve heard a lot about it as the world’s biggest online shopping promotion. When people around me started adding various items into their shopping cart, waiting to hit the purchase button at 00:00 of 11/11, I was curious and calm. I didn’t feel like joining the huge crowd. I believe spending extra money on something I do not need just because they give me a discount is not what a rational consumer should do. Besides, the promotion rules were too complicated. Red envelopes, coupons, discounts at each hour... I didn’t want to spent time on figuring out how to get a pack of toilet paper at the lowest price. So I was thinking about sitting down quietly to witness how others splash out as if money didn’t matter to them at all.


However, things do not always go accordingly to plan. After 11/11, I spent a whole week waiting for my deliveries - one after another, 16 packages in total, which I had purchased within 24 hours on that day.


I’m not alone. One report said that 87% of consumers admitted that 11/11 has changed their shopping habits. What magic tricks does this huge shopping carnival play to make you convince yourself “Am I shopping on 11/11 to save money? No, I’m making money!”


Here’s what I’ve learnt from my observation and my own experience:


For many consumers, Double 11 is the time when they can pamper themselves. Everyone has a wish list. On that list are things they’ve desired for a long time but hesitated about the price. Ever since Alibaba created Double 11, they wait and wait and keep telling themselves, “Be patient, 11/11 is coming.” When the big promotion finally arrives, all those goods with discount labels turn into free gifts in their eyes. So they pay for it with no guilt.


As for me, I’ve been considering buying a cleaning robot for a long time. As all my Chinese friends kept talking about those tempting bargains they found online, I was convinced that this would be the best time to place the order. I checked on Taobao and found out it was 400RMB cheaper on 11/11. So I paid for it with no hesitation. Then it occurred to me that most apartments in Shanghai don’t have a heating system. I may need to get a radiator to survive the freezing winter. Since I would buy it anyway, why wait to pay the full price later and give up the huge discount on 11/11? After I put the radiator in my shopping cart, another thing came to my mind. I didn’t have a microwave in my new apartment. I was not sure whether I should get a one. Now that it was being offered at a much lower price, I’ve got my reason to buy it.


Once you’ve opened the Pandora’s Box, it’s almost impossible to close it. Every time some thing came up to me, I said to myself: I have to buy these things now or later. Now I’m given probably the lowest price for the whole year. So what am I waiting for? This is the second kind of shopping behavior on 11/11: stock up. Here in their hands is an endless shopping list with things they have to buy anyhow. Most of them, especially women, would like to buy in one go the amount for several months’ use. There’s no doubt that 11/11 is the time to store up. There are various promotion rules. But they all have one thing to tell: the more you purchase, the more you save. As a result, those who are convinced tend to order litres of shampoo, dozens of toothpastes, kilos of cat’s food, etc. If all those packages were delivered to them at the same time, their neighbors may get the impression that a grocery store is opening next door.


Then it comes to the irrational part of the purchase. Sometimes, we buy things just because it’s Double 11! You know how tricky online marketing can be. Each time I completed my payment, the picture of several other products were pushed to me under the line “You may also like”. How caring! Besides, like all other festivals, atmosphere is the key. Once we’ve entered November, everything seemed to be about 11/11 - underground posters, online banners and all those articles telling you what you mustn’t miss on that day, not to mention how people around you share their shopping experience. A friend of mine told me she didn’t care about the promotion at all. But still, she spent hours on Taobao APP wondering what to buy. At last, as she didn’t found anything interesting, she got herself 16kg laundry detergent.


I’m just an insignificant contributor to this huge carnival. There are millions of people like me or much more passionate than me. Together, we helped Alibaba break its own sales record again - 1 billion yuan sales in only 52 seconds after the kick off. 10 billion was reached in 6 minutes 58 seconds. In total, a milestone of 120.7 billion yuan was achieved within 24 hours.


I was wondering, does anyone still remember that at the beginning, Double 11 was known as the Single’s Day? While people were busy shopping for their boyfriend or girlfriend did anyone pay any attention to how those lonely single ones might be spending the only exclusive occasion specially created for them?


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