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Spending Time

Single’s Day is a reflection of key consumer trends in habits and spending

All holiday seasons seem to start earlier and earlier every year, and Single’s Day is no exception. The world’s biggest shopping holiday (based on spending) is celebrated annually on 11/11, but by late October, retailers in Asia were already pocketing billions as they kicked off the shopping festival with early deals. Consumer spending during the event is so robust that it eclipses Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Single’s Day originated in China as the antithesis to Valentine’s Day; it’s a day when single people, sometimes ostracized in the country for being solo, celebrate their single status by buying themselves presents. As Single’s Day has become an international phenomenon, we’re taking a look at the holiday from a few angles, including dating behavior, the evolution of self-care, and, of course, spending trends.

All The Single Ladies (And Men)

Single’s Day has evolved to be a day for anyone, single or coupled up, to show themselves a little love, but 2021 may see more people celebrating the holiday in the traditional sense as singletons. The dating scene has emerged from the pandemic looking rather different, fraught with new perils and challenges, tricky questions, and acronyms. FODA, fear of dating again, is a feeling some singletons are experiencing that is making it difficult to get back in the dating game. Having been on a break from dating or only dating digitally for the past year and half, many are nervous about dating IRL again. FODA is compounded by mental health stresses, which were heightened during the pandemic and are put under further strain when dating is added to the mix.

When singles do begin dating again, many are embracing “slow dating,” taking a longer period to get to know the other person, extending their stretch of virtual dates before meeting in person, and waiting to declare themselves a couple. These trends mean single people will be staying single for longer stretches, even if they are looking for love.

Making Time For Me Time

Self-care is a core tenet of Single’s Day, and one reason this year’s shopping event will likely once again surpass past spending highs is because taking the time to care for oneself and understand one’s emotions, values, and needs has become a focus of post-pandemic life. This is partly because people were forced to spend more time alone during lockdowns and quarantines but also because people had time for reflection and reevaluation. They are making a conscious effort to work on themselves and to reward their own efforts with treats and presents. Going forward, celebrating oneself won’t be reserved for an annual holiday but will become an everyday occurrence.

“I like having more time to focus on myself. [During the pandemic] I had the time and was less distracted by my friends in the city. I’ve gotten better at learning how to express what I need, advocating for myself more, and understanding how to deal with my own emotions.” – Paige, 24, New York

Putting The 'Eco' In Economics

While Single’s Day is recognized as a celebration of spending, this year that element is somewhat subdued in consideration of the effect consumerism has on the environment. Eco-consciousness is certainly not new, but the level of importance consumers are placing on it is. Whether due to product shortages, loss of income, or simply having time to consider the impact of their actions, consumers are being more thoughtful about their spending—its impact on their personal finances and the environment.

“I don’t spend as much anymore because I decided I don’t need to buy things just to buy things. I try to buy second hand as much as I can, for example with clothes and books.“ – Charlotte, 36, Paris

While retailers are still promoting buying behavior this Single’s Day, they are also showcasing ways to consume with a conscience. For example, Alibaba’s Tmall is giving “green vouchers” for discounts on low-impact goods and emphasizing eco-friendly logistics practices. Retailers have recognized that elevating their eco consciousness can also benefit their bottom line by making consumers feel more comfortable with their purchases.

This year, Single’s Day particularly connects to key trends we’re seeing among consumers. Brands have an opportunity to lean into these shifts—not only on 11/11 but throughout the months ahead. They can reflect these emerging mindsets by:

  • helping singletons celebrate their single status as they may be flying solo for a longer stretch.

  • encouraging “me time” and rewarding the work that people are doing to become their best selves.

  • tempering the push for consumption with eco-focused efforts that will lessen buyer’s remorse.

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