How Should You Prepare for Shopping Festivals on Tmall?

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The growth of e-commerce in China has also led to a surge in shopping festivals.  Online platforms have, in fact, created new festivals to generate sales.  Marketers expect online sales to surpass retail sales this year for the first time ever.  And a majority of the sales occur during the festivals.

Shopping festivals have caught the eye of international brands that market in China.  However, they find they need to adapt their marketing plans.  Shopping festivals are not the time to only offer holiday discounts, like in the West.

Instead, shopping festivals are also the time to:

  • Launch new product lines.
  • Offer limited edition items.
  • Introduce new collections.
  • Offer creative gift with purchase.
  • Create touch-points with both new and loyal customers.
  • Introduce interest-free installment or deferred payment plans.

When are the shopping festivals?

Tmall publishes its annual timeline for shopping festivals at the beginning of the year. Then, it reveals more specific starting and ending dates as the festival draws near.  Normally, there are pre-sales events scheduled prior to the festival itself.

One thing to note is that the latter half of the year typically contains more shopping festivals than the first half. In addition to many of the popular holidays in the West, some of the larger shopping festivals include:

  • Chinese New Year (on the new moon between January 21st and February 20th)
  • International Women’s Day (March 8th)
  • 618 Shopping Carnival (June 18th)
  • Double 11 Singles Day (November 11th)
  • Double 12 Global Discount (December 12th)

Your Marketing Campaign

Following Tmall’s announcement of dates, vendors break down their sales targets and ad budget according to the timeline.  Vendors have to pay attention to the pre-sales events as well. For example, the June 18th shopping festival pre-sale events start during the last week of May.

Your ad campaign for shopping festivals must include ads specifically designed for that festival that resonate with your audience.  In particular, your brand, target market, and the festival must all fit well together. 

Brands need to prepare well in advance of the shopping festival.  From creating good content all the way through to logistics and the supply chain. A good rule of thumb is start an ad campaign at least one month before the pre-sales event so you can optimize and scale as the festival nears. 

Tools and Metrics

We recommend our vendors use paid traffic tools to build up their potential customer base.  This should start at least 7-14 days prior to the first pre-sale event.  Because this is when the cost to purchase internet traffic is relatively lower.

A customer segment you could target during a shopping festival is new and potential customers. Another targeted segment could be loyal customers since they usually have a higher conversion rate. 

Let’s look at how a new brand focused on tier 1 city consumers with high monthly expenditure levels.  Then, using specific tools with a carefully crafted strategy they were able to increase their brand awareness.

Case Study A

A foreign furniture brand on Tmall set as its target to increase sales and brand exposure during Double Eleven. 

First, they realized that the store didn’t have a lot of existing customers and that brand awareness was not high. 

So, they started early by advertising two months in advance at a lower per-click cost.  Then, using Super Recommendation and Express Train accumulated new customers. 

For Express Train, they selected category keywords for higher impression.  They also used competitor brand name keywords due to low brand awareness of their own brand. 

During the pre-sale stage, they introduced a limited promotion.  Specifically, the first 50 customers who added a product to their cart also got free accessories. 

Consequently, the promotion generated additional product conversions during the main event.

During the preparation stage, you should focus on metrics such as:

  • product-add-to-favorite
  • product-add-to-cart
  • store-add-to-favorite

These metrics are the best to focus on because of the product prices.  Usually brands don’t offer discounts during the pre-sales stage. Therefore, many customers add the products to their shopping cart.  Then, they wait until they get the best price before purchasing. 

Super Recommendation is a great tool to use during the preparation stage.  Since the cost to generate each add-to-favorite will be cheaper than Express Train.

Later, during the actual event, tools like Express Train and Product Treasure, convert potential customers into purchasers. 

Here is an example of a brand increasing their conversion rate by advertising promotions to their already loyal customers.

Case Study B

A cosmetic brand selling on Tmall wanted to increase conversion rate during Double Eleven main dates. 

They selected the tools Express Train, Live Streaming, and SMS Marketing.  Their primary targeted audience was the store’s existing customers. 

The promotions delivered with these tools were “store members lock-in 4 benefits with 0.01 RMB” and “limited gifts with purchase”. 

They increased their conversion rate beyond their target.

In the same way that the marketing strategy must be completely thought out, so must the budget.  It is imperative to have a detailed breakdown along the timeline that highlights the tools used. 

And finally, you must decide which products to advertise and on which platform. 

Many brands offer discounts on their hero products or bestsellers.  By promoting your bestsellers you gain a competitive edge when ranking.

Limiting your advertising to one or two products can create a bottleneck in the traffic each day.  However, using different traffic tools can help you maximize your exposure to potential clients.  This is how that looks in action.

Case Study C

A fast-moving consumer goods brand partnered with a leading packaging designer.  Then, they launched a limited edition of one of their products just before the Double Eleven festival.

They used Super Recommendation, Express Train, and Taobaoke (affiliate program) as their advertising tools.  The main consumer target was the Gen Z population. 

Consequently, the outcome was that the limited edition had a very good click through rate on each of these tools.  Not only was the product added to cart or favorites, but the store was also favorited.

Along with product selection you must consider your inventory.  Vendors can sell out of their stock quite quickly during a shopping festival.  Accordingly, exporters must carefully plan inventory levels to match the high demand. 

Do you want assistance fine-tuning your ad campaign for a festival?  Or, do you need help identifying which shopping festival aligns best with your brand?  

Whatever questions you have, feel free to reach out to us at

At Chaoly, we’re happy to help.

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