Beauty sees growth during more muted 11.11

Alibaba kicks off its 13th 11.11 shopping festival

Alibaba’s Tmall, and Pinduoduo’s GMV rose 2.9% year-over-year to Rmb934bn ($132.69bn) during this year’s 11.11 shopping festival, according to a report by China-based research agency Syntun.

The report analyzed 40 platforms, 2,505 categories, 88,543 brands and 20 million products during the period between October 31 at 8pm and the end of day on November 11.

Tmall had the highest GMV, followed by and Pinduoduo. Without releasing figures, Alibaba said that GMV was in line with last year. It added that the flat year-on-year GMV was also in line with estimates.

New players, including livestreaming platforms, experienced higher growth. Livestreaming platforms Douyin, Diantao and Kuaishou’s GMV rose 146.1% to Rmb181bn ($25.71bn) compared to the year prior.

Combining both traditional e-commerce players with livestreaming platforms, the 11.11 shopping festival’s total GMV exceeded Rmb1 trillion ($142.06bn) for the first time. The six platforms’ 11.11 GMV grew 13.7% year-over-year to Rmb1.11 trillion ($157.69bn).

Despite the milestone, several e-commerce players have shifted focus and have entered a new era for 11.11, called the “fight for loyalty” stage, according to a report by consultancy Bain & Co.

Instead of prioritizing deals, players such as Alibaba and highlighted loyalty programs, services, sustainability efforts and digital initiatives in a bid to retain customers.

For example, Alibaba upped digital offers with metaverse initiatives and virtual influencers. Brands and retailers such as Tommy Hilfiger used Alibaba’s virtual influencers Ayayi and Noah to increase engagement with customers during the shopping festival. Meanwhile, the group’s luxury platform Tmall Luxury Pavilion launched a virtual influencer called Timo to showcase luxury brands’ digital collectibles.

Along with the digital faces, Alibaba launched a virtual shopping mall for 11.11. Shoppers could enter the space via their own avatar and browse 700 products. The group also rendered more products digitally to allow customers to virtually try on items or view products from multiple angles.

Nonetheless, this year’s 11.11 was impacted by a string of factors including an increasingly crowded retail calendar (there are now numerous shopping festivals in China), the emergence of new players including Douyin and Kuaishou, damage to consumer confidence caused by 2022’s Covid outbreaks and lockdowns and macroeconomic turbulence.

Some 290,000 brands took part in 11.11 across Alibaba’s platforms, the same number as last year. 

Beauty boom

Although this year’s 11.11 seems to have been muted, beauty still performed well.

Alibaba said that beauty saw robust growth during the festival. Meanwhile, transaction volume of 87 international beauty brands increased 200% on’s import product platform JD Worldwide compared to last year’s festival, according to the e-commerce player.

Meanwhile, in the first hour of Alibaba’s 11.11 sale on October 31, beauty products from Valentino, Burberry and Kenzo saw their GMV surpass that of the first purchasing period last year. Additionally, Swiss brand La Prairie’s GMV generated in the first four hours on October 31 exceeded that of the entire 11.11 sales period in 2021.

For some beauty brands, livestreaming has played a part in driving growth. For example, Estée Lauder, La Mer and Lancôme’s official livestreaming channels each surpassed Rmb100m ($13.7m) in GMV in the first four hours on October 31.

Overall, fragrance & make-up’s GMV during 11.11 came in at Rmb21.6bn ($3.07bn), according to Syntun. The figure includes GMV from traditional e-commerce platforms Tmall, and Pinduoduo, in addition to Diantao.

By brand, MAC Cosmetics saw the highest gains on Tmall in the fragrance & make-up category during 11.11, with GMV coming in at Rmb200.6m ($28.49m), according to Syntun. This was followed by 3CE, Florasis, YSL Beauty and Estée Lauder. Meanwhile, the top three fragrance & make-up brands on were YSL Beauty, Dior and Chanel.

Skincare’s GMV came in at Rmb60.6bn ($8.61bn). The top-five performing skincare brands on Tmall were L’Oréal Paris, Estée Lauder, Lancôme, Olay and Proya while the top five on were Lancôme, Estée Lauder, SK-II, HR and L’Oréal Paris.