Are you ready for the world’s biggest shopping day of the year next week? Kobe and Katy are.
(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)
There are a lot of Chinese consumers, and according to a report issued earlier this year by the World Economic Forum, they’re buying a lot of stuff – particularly online. In just the past five years, the number of online shoppers in China has tripled to 410 million and so is the amount that they’re spending. Online sales are projected to grow by 20 percent in the next few years to a market size of $1.6 trillion.
Enter Kobe and Katy.
The basketball star Kobe Bryant and singer Katy Perry have been hired by the online Chinese giant Alibaba to be the company’s “global ambassadors” at a gala that will take place in Shenzhen the night before November 10th’s Singles’ Day, according to a report in Mashable.
Started as just a marketing idea by the company’s chief executive Jack Ma a few years ago, 2015’s Singles Day amassed sales of more than $14 billion, surpassing Black Friday in the United States. as the world’s biggest shopping day of the year. The day is meant for single people to celebrate their independence (and selfishness?) by buying gifts for themselves. That’s good for them – and good for many small businesses too.
Ma wants Alibaba to be a “gateway” for U.S. small businesses to reach Chinese customers and plans to add 10 million small merchants to its platform in the next 10 years.
“Our vision is in 10 years, we will help two billion consumers in the world shop online,” Ma announced last year in this Bloomberg report. “Our globalization will still be focusing on helping small businesses and helping them do business in the most efficient way.”
E-commerce is the reason behind the success of Singles Day because so many Chinese consumers don’t live near the big brick-and-mortar stores. In the United States, “you have all the shops offline, everything everywhere,” he said in the Bloomberg report. “In China, we have nothing, nowhere. In China, e-commerce is a lifestyle.”
Next week’s Singles Day is a great opportunity for U.S. small businesses who want to break into the Chinese market and Alibaba is welcoming them with open arms. But what about rival Amazon? (Chief Executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) According to Mashable, the American online giant plans to launch a version of Amazon Prime in China and has already started peddling “Black Friday” deals. Maybe Shaq’s available?