Chinese villagers snap up Buicks, limited-edition Burberry scarves sell out in Singles’ Day promotion

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Cars from Buick, limited-edition scarves by Burberry and five-star hotel stay packages are some of the things Chinese consumers are going gaga over as advance orders pour in days ahead of the world’s largest shopping festival – Singles’ Day – on November 11.

Some 33 major international brands have already achieved 100 million yuan (HK$113 million) each in advance orders on the retail platform Tmall, according to a statement from Alibaba Group Holding yesterday. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

That trend bodes well for the prospects of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day promotion – also known as Double 11 – when it kicks off at a gala in Shanghai on Sunday marking the event’s 10th anniversary – potentially the largest ever. The company expects to achieve a record 1 billion orders.

This year, Alibaba has attracted the most merchants and consumers outside China to participate in the event since it started in 2009. For the first time, Southeast Asian subsidiary Lazada Group will jointly hold Singles’ Day promotions across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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Alibaba estimated that more than 1,000 of the 7,000 Buicks ordered in advance of its holiday promotion were made by villagers through the company’s network of Rural Taobao centres. Land Rover, known for its popular four-wheel drives, sold some 90 cars, the company said.

The company has sold 80,000 cars this year, which is “the equivalent of the annual sales volume of 30 car dealers”, Forrester senior analyst Wang Xiaofeng said.

Other popular categories based on advance orders included limited-edition wool scarves from Burberry, which sold out yesterday, and luxury hotel stay packages from major chains such as Marriott International, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, with combined advance orders of about 350,000 nights.

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Foreign cosmetics brands such as Lancome, Estee Lauder, SK-II, L’Oreal and Shiseido all achieved 100 million yuan in advance orders, Alibaba said.

Consumer electronics devices, including those from Dyson, Apple, Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi, recorded a sixfold increase in advance orders compared with last year.

The Double 11 gala event in Shanghai, which will prominently feature a countdown on real-time gross merchandise volume, will be broadcast live on various television channels on the mainland and online via the video-streaming platform Youku.

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