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Double-11 (Part 3): Suning — Beyond Tmall & JD.COM and why it matters to brands

2020-11-18 7 minute read China

Guest celebrity Zhang Yixing (left), with the main host, Jia Nailiang, during a live broadcasting session at Suning.

The distinction between online and offline in China’s retail is long gone. To stay relevant, brands must not underestimate the power of e-commerce and should consider a holistic strategy that blends both physical with virtual experiences. In this follow-on article we’re looking at Suning and its sophisticated 11.11 festival live broadcasting programme.

We have already covered Douyin 抖音 — a video-sharing social networking platform (outside of China mostly known for its international version, TikTok), as well as the overall industry performance as reported during this year’s Double 11 shopping festival.

In this article we are looking at Suning.com, one of the largest independent retailers in China with a network of brick-and-mortar stores and its highly ranking own e-commerce platform.

Suning

Suning, one of China’s largest retailers that also has its own highly ranking B2C e-commerce platform, has seen a record online performance during the eleven-day event between 1st and 11th November.

During this year’s festival, Suning’s online order volume increased by 75%. On the main day, 11th November, it reached 5bn yuan (USD $756m) GMV within just the first 19 minutes from the launch at midnight.

This year, Suning was running a number of parallel campaigns, through a number of its channels:

  • Suning.com — the main e-commerce site,
  • Suning’s Tmall Flagship Store,
  • Suning Super-Buyer Live Broadcasting Room,
  • Suning Offline-Store Broadcast.

Suning’s success during these 11 days can be largely attributed to its very successful, sophisticated live broadcasting programme designed specifically for the festival.

The power of live broadcasts

Live broadcasting, especially with celebrity KOLs, is highly popular in China. This is reflected by the diversity of platforms that use this channel to promote and sell products, as well as services, in virtually any category — Douyin 抖音, BiliBili 哔哩哔哩, Xiaohongshu 小红书 (Little Red Book), Kuaishou 快手, Taobao Live Broadcasting 淘宝直播 to name a few. There are many brands that build their loyal customer base entirely through live broadcasting.

Suning nearly 60,000 live broadcasts, and to make it appealing to consumers Suning undertook a sophisticated live broadcasting pyramid-shaped programme consisting of: 2 Super-Shows, 13 Super-Buyer events, more than 200 live broadcasts by web celebrities, more than 2,000 product-themed live broadcasts, more than 3,000 brand-oriented live broadcasts, and more than 50,000 broadcasts from Suning’s brick-and-mortar shops as well as local and rural producers.

Some of the best performing live broadcasting rooms, co-hosted by renowned Chinese celebrities such as Jia Nailiang and Zhang Yixing, have seen 120+ million viewers, with sales exceeding 800 million yuan (USD $121.0m).

Domestic brands outperform

Suning.com has seen strong sales performance in the two key categories that are characteristic to its market positioning, i.e.:

  • Mobile Phones (top 5 brands: Apple, Xiaomi, Vivo, Huawei, Realme)
  • Home Appliances (top 5 brands: Midea, Haier, Supor, Joyyoung, Xiaomi)

China’s domestic brands fared extremely well here, with 8 out of 10 top brands being domestic in the mobile phones category, and 9 out of 10 brands in the home appliances category. Sales of 5G mobile phones increased 10-fold.

Among other popular categories, Suning has seen a significant increase in:

  • Automotive Accessories: 115%
  • Diary Products: 125%
  • Large-format TVs (above 65-inch): 161%
  • Smart Small Appliances: 213%
  • Health Supplements: 220%
  • Alcohol & Beverage: 220%
  • Gold Jewellery: 260%
  • Gaming Equipment: 325%
  • Electric Bikes: 518%
  • Smart Home: 608%

High-profile beauty brands seen a near five-fold increase, 470%, brands such as Estée Lauder sold 10,000 articles of facial cream in just 2 minutes.

About the platform

Suning.com 苏宁易购, a company listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE:002024), has more than 1600 physical stores covering over 700 cities of China (the mainland and Hong Kong SAR), with presence also in Japan. It’s e-commerce platform Suning.com ranks among top three Chinese B2C companies. The key categories include physical merchandise (home appliances, 3C products, books, general merchandise, household commodities, cosmetics, baby care products, content products) and service merchandise.

The bottom line

China’s e-commerce ecosystem is arguably largest in the world, it is extremely well developed, innovative, and it never stands still.

Although Tmall and JD.COM are very important, there are many others that often suit certain product categories better, with more targeted approach and lower barrier to entry for many brands — particularly those that are keen to invest in brand building in the Chinese market.

For any brand that is seeking market entry, or expansion into China, such online platforms pose an invaluable and unique opportunity to reach the target Chinese consumer, quickly, and effectively. This is especially true for some vertical platforms that operate in lucrative niche categories and demographics, where it is possible to target consumers with a razor-sharp focus and a high conversion success rate.

Talk to ACOLINK’s team to find out more, we can help you enter and grow in the Chinese market with our services that range from support on market entry strategies, through market research, lead-generation and prospecting, to fully managed solutions where we act as your highly experienced export sales team.

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