For those of you living under a rock, you might not have heard about Alibaba making a $17.8 billion turnover in just one day. From an anti-Valentine’s Day celebration started by college students in the 1990s, Alibaba turned Single’s Day into a national phenomenon bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Leveraging the concept of treating oneself, it sees a record number of sales made each year on November 11th. In fact, USD$1 billion worth of orders were placed in the first five minutes of the event going live in 2016.

So what is the secret behind Alibaba influencing such a colossal online shopping spree? Technology is only providing a platform to facilitate Alibaba’s online transactions but the key here lies within consumers’ purchasing mind-set and behaviour.

When we actually look at Asian demographics, singledom is becoming a growing social topic. Although the one-child policy in China is now abolished, men are estimated to outnumber women by 33.59 million leaving a large percentage of them without a partner. In other regions, such as in Hong Kong, the population is facing the opposite problem with 876 men for every 1000 women. In Japan, 70% of the population under 34 years-old remains without a partner and many have never even been in a relationship.

Similarly, in Korea, remaining single has transitioned into a mind-set to beat traditional conventions. Pressure from peers and society has deterred younger generations from coupling-up. They even have their own Single’s Day – Black Day – where they ‘mourn’ their single status by dressing in black and eating black foods. Likewise, Europe also seems to be facing the same growing problem which is linked, to a reduction in the longevity of relationships. People are busier, divorce is now a common thing and love is no longer a top priority.

Knowing this, could single people be a consumer persona that deserves recognition?

This is something brands might want to start looking into. Leveraging on this trend of singledom could truly widen the scope of opportunities when it comes to their communications. Our behaviour and motivations surely change depending on whether we are in a relationship or not. This observation can significantly change how brands across industries look at consumer behaviours and purchasing habits. In fact, the single status is now associated with personal growth and enriching experiences, a shift away from the old perception of singledom. 

For years, brands have advertised what seemed to be the ‘perfect’ life, according to society. You look for a partner, move in together, marry young, start a family and this is it; you have become the ideal. Conversely, single-status held negative connotations. However, do new generations still relate to these ideas? Is this life pattern still applicable today when people stay single for much longer to build on their personal lives, get divorced as soon as they marry and couples come in all different forms and shapes?

Millennials might not be as responsive to adverts depicting emotional family scenes as previous generations were, and there is a growing sense of individuality amongst consumers that should not be left behind. It is a matter of readjusting communication strategies to current social trends and Mercedes expanded this insight in its 2017 campaign “Grow Up” to target the new generational mind-set. Up until now, it was widely seen as a luxury brand specifically targeted towards men over 40. In this series of five adverts, Mercedes illustrates different negative situations that can be encountered at any stage in life. By addressing modern day issues, Mercedes successfully shifts its target market and broadens its audience.

‘Single people’ is only one of the many new personas that could be created today and it might be worthwhile for brands to shift their business models to fit these emerging audiences. This era, filled with ever-advancing technology, has individuality at its heart and this is without doubt a concept that deserves further exploration.