As Singles Day approaches, Vivintel releases a study of Chinese consumers

With less than a week remaining until China’s Singles Day, which has quietly become the world’s largest shopping event over the past two decades (in North America, at least), Vividata’s consumer research arm Vivintel has released a new study of Chinese Canadians.

There are an estimated 1.2 million Chinese Canadians in Canada, many of whom have a high affinity for luxury items according to Vivintel’s Insights into the Chinese Consumer study.

Based on a survey of more than 2,500 respondents in Toronto and Vancouver that identified as being of Chinese origin, the study found that Chinese Canadians 18+ account for approximately $61 billion in self-reported spending.

Interest in luxury goods is also strong, particularly among the approximately 70,000 international students in Canada.

Among the study’s findings:

  • One-third of Chinese-Canadians agree with the statement “I buy luxury brands to feel different from the rest of society.”
  • There are approximately 490,000 Chinese consumers in Canada, who are not Canadian citizens and were not born in Canada. More than half (53%) of this segment indicated that they pay more attention to advertising in their own language.
  • 40% of Chinese consumers say they prefer to drive a luxury vehicle. This is particularly true among those who are in Canada on a temporary work permit, with 52% agreeing with the statement.

It is the first in a series of Vivintel studies that will look at the consumer habits and mindsets of Canada’s ethnic groups, with a study on the South Asian population debuting next year.

The study arrives one week prior to Nov. 11’s Singles Day, which was started in the early 1990s by Chinese university students as a celebration of being single. The event is stated as 11.11, with the number “1” representing single people.

Singles Day was eventually co-opted by the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which held the first of what would become known as the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in 2009. Last year’s event saw Alibaba sell US$1 billion worth of items in just 90 seconds (it would go on to sell US$30.8 billion worth of items over the next 24 hours, dwarfing the amount spent by U.S consumers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined).

In a December 2018 report, McKinsey & Company noted that Singles Day is increasingly becoming a global event, noting the participation of more than 19,000 multinational brands in last year’s event.

The report noted that Alibaba, which has a stated goal of generating half of its sales from international markets, brought Singles Day to markets including the U.K., France, Spain, Poland, Russia and Turkey through AliExpress, an online site that exports Chinese products to international buyers. According to the report, AliExpress’s Singles Day sales last year were up 40% over the previous year.

“Although Singles Day’s year-over-year growth is slowing, the event is still a behemoth for Chinese retail and represents a significant opportunity for brands to grow in China,” said McKinsey. “Participating is no longer optional but a requirement for any international brand that sees itself with a future in Asia and wants to build brand engagement and craft unique experiences with consumers.”

Although the U.S. shopping event Black Friday only established itself as a Canadian shopping event in the past decade, Singles Day is already making tentative inroads in Canada. Among the Canadian companies that participated last year were Aldo (which offered 11% off online and in-store purchases) and the Ontario food delivery service Chanmao, which waived delivery fees.


Chris Powell