by Ker Zheng
Womens Day, held on the 8th of March every year, is a highly celebrated holiday in China. Across the country, all women are given half the day off, and every major e-commerce platform and brand hold sales promotions to commemorate the occasion.
For the e-commerce industry, it is especially important because it's considered the first major holiday sale of the year.
Typically, Chinese consumers spend the bulk of their annual e-commerce budget in the fourth quarter of every year, when promotions for Singles Day, Christmas, Double Twelve, and Black Friday take place.
After that, spending is generally muted up until after Chinese New Year, which takes place in January or February, depending on the year.
So for e-commerce players, Womens Day kicks off the post-Chinese New Year season and acts as a good barometer for consumer spending.
We take a look at Womens Day results this year and what people are buying in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, when everyone is working from home and Chinese cities are on virtual lockdown.
Tmall Global Women‘s Day Sales Show How the Coronavirus Has Impacted E-Commerce
Tmall Global first indicated that sales figures for the month of February jumped 52% YoY, indicating that the coronavirus crisis has not dented demand for imported goods.
Note that Tmall Global is the cross-border e-commerce arm of Tmall, in which customers can buy imported goods that are listed on consignment. Merchants selling on Tmall Global do not have to have a China entity to sell on the platform.
What drove sales on Womens Day? Niche products within the beauty & personal care categories.
On Tmall Global, hair removal devices, smear masks, whitening toothpaste, and mens skincare products all saw strong demand, with hair removal device sales jumping 850% YoY.
Teeth whitening and mens skincare are two emerging subcategories within China's retail industry, as consumers see their incomes rise and start focusing more on appearances. While in the past these subcategories might have seemed like unnecessary purchases, they have become increasingly popular over the last year.
While it may seem peculiar for mens skincare products to sell well on a holiday such as Womens Day, keep in mind that many Chinese women purchase gifts for their significant others on a regular basis. Gifting is a major driver of male-focused products.
Home fitness products are also in demand, with yoga mat sales jumping nearly 800% YoY. People are working from home because of the coronavirus, so they have more time and freedom to do home workouts.
Since Chinese people are staying at home, they're also buying cooking and home appliance items, sales of which jumped 110% YoY.
In the food category, sales of instant and prepared foods such as noodles jumped 724%.
People bought salted egg yolk and fish skin chips from Singapore, as well as imported cold chain foods such as Chilean cherries and Australian beef. Manmade meat products were up 280% year on year as consumers continue to focus more on healthy living.
JD.com Sold More Beauty Products, Released Report on Female Spending in 2019
The above figures are slightly different than what happened on JD.com's platform.
JD.com reported that Womens Day sales reflected a 97% YoY sales jump for beauty and cosmetics items, a strong showing given that JD.com has historically struggled with attracting female customers. Sales of skin essence products, face masks, and eye masks jumped 152%, 11% and 180% YoY, respectively. From March 1-8, China's hottest new beauty brand Perfect Diary reported a 320% YoY jump in sales.
On Womens Day this year, JD.com also published a report on female spending on its platform in 2019.
Income reported amongst female consumers jumped by double digits, and spending by women under the age of 24 also jumped by double digits.
In China, younger women are much more likely to live at home and often receive spending money from their parents. This means that younger people are more willing to splurge in China when compared to millennials in the rest of the world, despite lower per-capita incomes.
Aside from beauty, top categories for women included fresh food, pet care, personal care, and medical-related products.
Females spending on pet care products and services such as veterinary appointments and procedures increased by 182%. In China more and more people have been getting used to the concept of raising cats and dogs. In the past, wild dogs may have been seen as dangerous and prone to give people rabies.
When purchasing pet care products, female customers tend to focus more on online reviews rather than price; they are much more afraid of faulty products that could hurt the pets they're raising.
1. Womens Day is a major e-commerce holiday that takes place in the beginning of March. It is often considered a good barometer for sales as it's the first major holiday for e-commerce after Chinese New Year ends.
2. Tmall Global released some highlights for their Womens Day sales. Within the beauty & personal care category, demand for hair removal devices, whitening toothpaste, and mens skincare products jumped. Other popular categories driven by the coronavirus crisis included home fitness products such as yoga mats, and cooking, home appliance, and food categories.
3. JD.com saw a strong showing in the beauty & cosmetics category. They also released a report on female spending in 2019, which showed that they're spending more on healthy food and pet care related products and services.