How Alibaba co-opted anti-Valentines day and exceeded Black Friday
November 20, 2017 9:06 AM   Subscribe

 
Ironically, you can buy this on a t-shirt.
posted by lalochezia at 9:08 AM on November 20, 2017 [5 favorites]


How Alibaba co-opted anti-Valentines day and exceeded Black Friday

If you're wondering which link the title refers to, it's the last one.
posted by zamboni at 9:19 AM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


Thanks for emphasizing that link, zamboni
posted by filthy light thief at 9:31 AM on November 20, 2017


Do the sell shark ramps?
posted by humboldt32 at 9:50 AM on November 20, 2017


As a privileged white dude it feels oddly comforting, to essentially be, as it turns out part of a minority. (non-alibaba customer)
posted by sammyo at 9:59 AM on November 20, 2017


That "double 11 day" song (the "musical number from Pharrell Williams") link... holy shit. Why did he do that? Were they holding his family at gunpoint backstage? I have so many questions!
posted by Frobenius Twist at 10:07 AM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


That "double 11 day" song (the "musical number from Pharrell Williams") link... holy shit. Why did he do that?

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess he did because they paid him a lot of money to do it.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:09 AM on November 20, 2017 [14 favorites]


Yup, most likely, coupled with the fact that his western audience is not likely to see it (except, the internet is generally open to everyone, and here we are).

For general context, see here: The Western stars of Chinese adverts (BBC, Sept. 2014) -- As Chinese citizens embrace consumerism, Western actors are in high demand for TV commercials. The roles they play reflect on the changing state of the Chinese economy.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:29 AM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


well, hey, glad to see other cultures adopting the US' coping mechanisms..

Feel bad ? Here's a bunch of materialistic consumer crap to buy and make yourself feel better !
posted by k5.user at 10:46 AM on November 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


<autotune>Zhongguo!</autotune>
posted by Nelson at 10:54 AM on November 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


One thing I was trying to understand about Singles Day; is most of the commerce buying gifts for other people? Or for oneself? The last article says "Alibaba advertised the day as an occasion to splurge on oneself" so maybe that's my answer.
posted by Nelson at 10:57 AM on November 20, 2017


"The melody's nice. Listening to it puts me in a good mood and [like I want] to spend money," said one user.

Listening to that song also put me in a good mood, because I was laughing at how terrible it was.
posted by Fig at 10:59 AM on November 20, 2017


Worth noting that Alibaba doesn't really "sell" very much or have its own distribution channels. The vast majority of the stuff is "ships from and sold by" different 3rd parties. One thing I've heard is that Chinese internet users really like to have a personal conversation with the seller -- asking questions, posting pictures, maybe negotiating a discount -- which isn't really something that American e-commerce sites are set up for. It's not clear to me that an Amazon-like company with an integrated web site and its own supply chain and warehouses would even be popular in China.
posted by miyabo at 11:17 AM on November 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


Treat Yo Self!
posted by TreeRooster at 11:40 AM on November 20, 2017


Oh, I sold that stock at the wrooooong time.
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:21 PM on November 20, 2017


I'm always curious about Ali Baba stuff, especially kitchen appliances like food processors and blenders and whatnot, which tend to be about 1/3 of the price of a generic one on Amazon. But the lack of a review system is just, like... oh man. Yikes.
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:25 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's all fun and games until they deliver you a blender that can do a backflip. *shudders
posted by lextex at 12:36 PM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


Most things I've gotten from Alibaba have been great. I have some really amazing argyle wool socks that were around $1 a pair. But I recently ordered 100 electrical connectors, and EVERY SINGLE ONE is wired backwards (red wire on male goes to black wire on female, and vice versa). Kind of an amazing mistake. I wonder how many they accidentally made like that and were trying to get rid of for cheap. There is no real rating or feedback system.
posted by miyabo at 12:36 PM on November 20, 2017


> Worth noting that Alibaba doesn't really "sell" very much or have its own distribution channels. The vast majority of the stuff is "ships from and sold by" different 3rd parties.

Alibaba/Aliexpress is not a merchant. It's a market. Think Ebay, not Amazon.
posted by ardgedee at 12:40 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have some really amazing argyle wool socks that were around $1 a pair.

Excuse me, I'm gonna need a link.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 1:28 PM on November 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


"Hey, this seems fun and harmless! Take that, Valentine's Day!"
The term "εŒεδΈ€" (meaning "Double 11") was trademarked in China by Alibaba Group on December 28, 2012, under registration numbers 10136470 and 10136420. In October 2014, Alibaba threatened legal action against media outlets that accept advertising from competitors that use this term. - Wikipedia
"Nevermind. The world remains awful."
posted by eotvos at 2:11 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm gonna need a link.

I checked my email and they are not sold anymore!
posted by miyabo at 2:56 PM on November 20, 2017


I had a list, a laptop and free shipping. We are still getting packages delivered every other day. 11.11 was great fun, although the midnight deadline was a little frantic.

If you can translate Chinese (google chrome automatically), Taobao is the retail reseller arm of Alibaba that is much friendlier. I use Lazada, another portal, because I got free shipping to my country.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:27 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


One of the things that makes Amazon bearable is you can explicitly go for items sold by Amazon or items fulfilled by Amazon that have a very small chance of being fakes. I can't imagine a world of having to sort through all the dreck on Alibaba making sure I didn't get screwed.
posted by Talez at 3:36 PM on November 20, 2017


This year's popular joke about the 11-11 sales is that only people who are really good at math can truly take advantage of it. There's a bewildering number and type of discounts. For instance, if you put down x amount before 11-11, that x amount is good for 2x on 11-11. If you buy more than Y amount from a certain Taobao store, you get xx amount off that store. If your total purchase on Taobao exceeds Z, you get yet another xxx amount of discount...

The consequence of all that buying is that people run out of space to hold packages. Students from a couple of top Chinese universities lamented about their school's "unfeelingness" because the schools didn't set aside enough rooms for holding all their packages and things got very chaotic.
posted by of strange foe at 4:28 PM on November 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


I moved to China in 2014 and my first impressions of Single's Day are already a little rosy because some proportions of China were first revealed by it...but, I'll first say I didn't arrive to a large metropolis like a majority of immigrants, but a small city, its best analogue being Oak Ridge, TN.

First off, the date, a shock that a day as auspicious to the West as Armistice Day paralleled by a consumerist invention. Which is complicated, yeh? Pacifists, like myself, enlightened by Vonnegut and many others, discern its transmogrification into Memorial and Veteran's Day as lamentable, but it's complicated...economic interdependence was one basis by which many predicted The Great War would not occur. I'm still unforgiving of Byrne, but can't help quoting True Stories: Shopping is a Feeling.

Secondly, its focus on "single dog" (being unmarried) is without western analogue and in the developing world where traditional family ties are so often a thrust of policy, its exception is intriguing. But the rapid development of China's economy creates for me a complicated nostalgia for 1950s United States with much basis in factual analysis. The Chinese have their own holidays (with expression that result in shopping), but co-opt western ones to shop even more because consumerism is alluring and...complicated. There's a joke there are 3 Valentine's Days in China.

There's a fair amount of misapprehension, and I'd say apprehension, in this thread, even sour grapes...speculation about negotiation versus set prices is way off the mark and more a matter of generational changes...distinction between Ebay and Amazon isn't as significant as asserted. What holds it all together are liberal return policies, but it is true issues of quality control plague merchants with the best goods. I learned this from a Chinese teacher with partners in a fledgling import business (mostly from Korea) who struggle with knock-offs and stubbornly low price points for similar items.

TaoBao is the prevalent verbing going on...and its distribution model is predicated on residential towers, not urban and suburban address requiring FedEx and UPS, but drop-off points for smaller, more numerous vehicles. An absence of the "last mile" in SE Asia is profound. WalMart announced last year it would cease to open physical stores in China and this is because TaoBao is eating their lunch.

TaoBao : Amazon :: NetFlix : LeTV. The West is used to having the most interesting "stuff" and "developed" ways of doing things for 99% of things to have and do and that's changing. I'll say it's already down to 80%.

WeChat is the "thing" on an edge and its suggestion is the West must as rapidly adopt payment via smartphone as Asia.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 4:49 PM on November 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't want to be a break-joy but some words of caution.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 5:15 AM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I read through that and his comparison of Amazon warehouses seems way off. My 61 orders for example, some shipped locally the next day, brought over by the shop owner or in the local mail. Another set of cushion covers have all shipped in separate packages over two weeks despite being ordered as a set. Nothing comes with a brand that it's from Lazada or Taobao or Alibaba, but the returns and payment - anything payment is handled by them. The shipping and the storefront side is entirely up to the seller. EBay is a much better comparison from a logistics side.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:43 PM on November 22, 2017


I don't want to be a break-joy but some words of caution.
Hmmm... I haven't bought from Alibaba in a couple of year, but last time I did there wasn't a single item fulfilled by anyone actually working as an employee of Alibaba. The comparison to Amazon seems a lot sillier than either the answers his interviewees give or even the idea that "The rule of thumb of course is that if an internet company can grow 500% from here you probably should own the stock." (A rule of thumb that only includes a final growth estimate without a timescale and or mention of alternatives tells me this isn't someone who should be making quantitative decisions.)

I'm entirely happy to be convinced that Alibaba is cooking their books and a back of the envelope calculation could prove it. This sounds like cargo-cult statistics.
posted by eotvos at 9:56 AM on November 23, 2017


« Older Let battle commence: The 2017-18 Ashes   |   One 2007 report put the figures for... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments