Innovation in Asia: Southeast Asian shopping festivals highlight growing opportunities for entertainment and commerce tie-ups

Singles’ Day, the online shopping festival invented by Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba and held on November 11, is widely known in the West. Now, a series of similar “double-digit” shopping festivals are driving ecommerce growth in Southeast Asia. Created by two of the region’s largest online retailers, Lazada and Shopee, these festivals are changing consumer habits, encouraging adoption of digital payment solutions, and turning shopping into a gamified, multimedia experience.

At a Glance

Countries mentioned: China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam

Key companies: Lazada, Shopee

Essential stats: Retail ecommerce sales grew by 35.2% in Southeast Asia last year and will rise by an additional 14.3% in 2021 to reach $45.07 billion, according to our forecast.

The opportunity: Businesses across the ecommerce, payments, and media ecosystems can seize opportunities associated with “double-digit” sales festivals to create value for consumers and drive revenues.

China’s online shopping festivals are spreading to Southeast Asia

Since Alibaba held its first Singles’ Day in 2009, the event has grown into a shopping extravaganza that lasts for weeks and stretches across various platforms. Also known as Double 11 or 11.11, it is now also a ​​must-watch event for marketers to catch a glimpse of retail tech innovations and shopping trends. Its wild success has inspired local competitors, such as JD.com and ByteDance-owned Douyin, to launch shopping festivals of their own.

These festivals are increasingly spreading beyond China’s borders. In Southeast Asia, Lazada and Shopee—backed by Alibaba and Tencent, respectively—both run monthly sales festivals on dates of the same formulation, such as Shopee’s 9.9 Super Shopping Day, held on September 9. Events can feature discounts of up to 90%, and other perks like free shipping and product giveaways. Up next are the year-end sales festivals, scheduled for October 10 (10.10), November 11 (the original Singles’ Day), and December 12 (12.12).

Events are heavily marketed and draw on high-profile celebrities

Lazada and Shopee advertise their one-day sales events widely, not just across digital media channels such as Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, but also on traditional TV and even outdoor displays.

The companies also lean on regional and country-specific brand ambassadors. Shopee, for instance, enlisted Jackie Chan to be the face of its recent 9.9 festival, while Lazada recruited South Korean actor Hyun Bin and Indonesian singer Agnez Mo.

What’s more, the companies change the names of their apps in Google Play and the Apple App Store to reflect the date of the upcoming or ongoing festival. For instance, Lazada renamed its app “Lazada 9.9 Biggest Brand Sale” in advance of the September 9 event.

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