Opinion

Singles’ Day: in-app advertising now the ‘holy grail’ for marketers

Consumer spending habits are rapidly changing, shifting from stores and websites to apps and social media – writes Patrick Corr

Online shopping

Singles’ Day in China – where those in relationships celebrate their singleton status by treating themselves to gifts – has become one of the landmark days in the shopping calendar. This year’s sales are, indeed, expected to be bigger than ever – potentially eclipsing the whopping $14bn spent last year. Looking beyond the headline sales figures and delving deeper into shopping habits tells us an interesting story about just how far ecommerce has moved in the past year.

At YouGov, we polled more than 1,200 people between November 1-4 to find out how consumer intentions for shopping on Singles’ Day, November 11, had changed in the last 12 months. The most telling change has been the shift towards purchasing through apps, which have surged in popularity.

Some 40 per cent of people polled intended to shop through apps this year, outnumbering the 37 per cent that intended to purchase their products through websites. This marks a departure from last year’s preferred purchasing platform, where the majority of shoppers – 52 per cent – opted for websites over apps, with just 28 per cent looking to shop via apps in 2015.

Apps are growing in popularity for sure and rapidly becoming the holy grail for marketers. The number of those now shopping on their smartphones, according to our data, is 62 per cent. In fact, some 50 per cent of people heard about Single Day through in-app advertising. Meanwhile, 44 per cent were put in the loop via social media.

Social media is definitely proving to be an innovative platform for developing how consumers purchase their products, not just hear about them. While Alipay continues to be the most popular payment method, with 85 per cent of consumers intending to pay for items online this way, the number of people intending to pay with WeChat Wallet has jumped up – from 15 per cent to 27 per cent in the space of just one year. Credit card payments are actually becoming less popular as time goes on.

It is no surprise then that social media platforms are investing big in online marketplaces in a bid to become the new e-commerce leaders. WeChat appears to be navigating this space successfully in China, far ahead of global competitors like Facebook and Instagram. The latter having announced last week that it was becoming the latest social network to create an online shopping space.

And consumer behaviour finally seems to be catching up with the mammoth investment in retail apps. The transformation of social media from networking sites to purchasing platforms also look set to continue. The past year has shown that trends in online retail are changing fast, driven by innovation leveraging technology to create an integrated shopping experience.  

At the heart of the consumer experience is trust, convenience and affordability. This year’s survey results suggest that retail apps and social media purchasing have ramped up a notch. It would seem the direction of travel is set. Marketers take note.

Patrick Corr is co-chief executive officer at YouGov Asia Pacific

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