China is not only the country with the biggest population in the world but also with the most internet users. It is estimated that China’s netizens reached almost 1 billion people in 2020, with almost 70% internet penetration.
On top of that China’s e-commerce and cross-border e-commerce have seen tremendous growth in the last couple of years. Needless to say, e-commerce skyrocketed in 2020 due to COVID-19, especially in China, which makes more and more brands want to start selling online. That, however, makes it an even more difficult task as competition grows, so it is always useful to know how to increase your sales in China. You can check out the marketing trends in China here, and below you can find the biggest and most important e-commerce holidays that you can attend to boost exposure, brand awareness, and sales. (you can also download our e-commerce holiday calendar for 2021)
12 February – Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is celebrated based on the lunar calendar and this year falls on 12 February. We are entering into the year of the Ox, which will be the symbol of the holiday. The holiday festivities last for a whole week and families gather, exchange gifts, have special dinners. Usually, they go out and eat in restaurants, but this year the focus will be on celebrations at home. Make sure to prepare your marketing campaigns and book your KOL in advance to take the most advantage of this holiday.
14 February – Valentine’s Day
Chinese couples just love love! There are a couple of holidays dedicated to love and couples during the year, and even though Valentine’s Day is a Western holiday, it is well celebrated in China. It is a great opportunity to promote products dedicated to this holiday.
8 March – International Women’s Day
Although International Women’s Day is not a widely celebrated holiday across the world, the biggest Chinese e-commerce platforms have embraced it and gave it a name of their own, and turned it into a big shopping festival. The most famous one is Tmall’s Queen’s Day, which is actually a two-week festival.
03 – 05 April – Tomb Sweeping Day
Chinese people get three days to commemorate their ancestors for the so-called Qingming Festival. They visit the graves of their deceased relatives to maintain them, hence the holiday has been known to cause the Travel season as a lot of people travel to their hometowns to observe this tradition. It Is important to plan your campaign accordingly, so two weeks or a month in advance so people can get their purchases on time for their traveling and visiting the family.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to secure your KOL for 618!
20 May – 520
The Saying I Love You Day or otherwise known as modern-day Valentine’s Day in China because ‘Five Two Zero’ resembles a lot ‘I Love You’ in Chinese.
18 June – 618 shopping carnival
This holiday originally started as a celebration for JD’s founding. And it has evolved into a shopping bonanza comparable to Alibaba’s Single’s Day. If you would like to fully leverage this holiday, feel free to use the usual e-commerce marketing campaigns as heavy discounts, free shipping, livestreaming, KOLs (make sure to book in advance!),
July – enjoy your holidays
July does not offer any big e-commerce holiday opportunities as most people would take some time off during this period of the year. This would be, however, the perfect opportunity to start planning and preparing your Single’s Day campaign, as trust us, it will take a lot of time and is the most important shopping holiday of the year.
14 August – Qi Xi
Remember how we told you that Chinese people love love and they like to celebrate it? Well, this is yet again another version of Valentine’s Day. The Chinese love festival QiXi is based on the mythological romance of the cowherd and weaver maid. Due to its romantic nature, Qixi Festival is known colloquially as “Chinese Valentine’s Day.” And is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar.
10 – 21 September – Mid-Autumn Festival
The Mid- Autumn festival starts on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month and it is an ancient tradition celebrating the moon. Families gather to celebrate this almost two-week festival so all festival-related products would go well (same as Chinese New Year) – from small gifts to all food and beverages.
01 – 07 October – National Day and Golden Week
This festival starts on 1st October with National Day and lasts until the 7th – Golden Week. It is one of the biggest holidays, and again, big for traveling as many Chinese make the most of a full week off to go on a vacation or visit their families. Again, make sure to plan and execute your campaign in advance so customers can enjoy their purchases during their time off.
11 November – Single’s Day
The biggest e-commerce holiday, the Single’s Day shopping bonanza also known as 11.11 or Double 11. It generates more sales than Black Friday does in the United States. Every year, Alibaba breaks a new record, reaching $74.1 billion in 2020 despite the COVID-19 crisis. You really need to plan your campaigns and book your KOLs well in advance, otherwise, you risk not being able to make the most of this big event. Livestreaming is one of the best tools you could use for Single’s Day campaigns, on top of heavy discounts that is. Apart from boosting your sales number, 11.11 can also be amazing for your brand awareness in China.
12 December – Double 12
Double 12 was founded by e-commerce giants JD and Taobao in response to Alibaba’s Double 11 and it is the last big e-commerce event of the year. Don’t underestimate it even if doesn’t seem like an attractive one, as it may bring a lot of new opportunities for your brand to attract new customers.
25 December – Christmas
Even though Christmas is not celebrated in China, Chinese people have embraced some traditions linked to it and a lot of Western brands make promotions during this period until 31 December, targeting especially the younger consumers who are more likely to want to get closed to this Western tradition.
And there you have it – the most important e-commerce holidays in China for 2021. As you can see, China offers multiple opportunities for a brand to reach big audiences and a brand should choose wisely which ones would be the most relative and suitable for them. This might seem an overwhelming task for a brand that has zero experience with selling in China and frankly, it is to a certain extend. If you would like to know more about how to extend your business through cross-border e-commerce in China, feel free to reach out to us and our team of the Chinese market and marketing experts will be more than happy to support you in this venture. Let’s make 2021 a success together!