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Published November 27th 2018

Black Friday vs Singles’ Day: Which is Bigger?

Brandwatch React's Singapore correspondent Colette Tay explores the data around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles' Day

So, how deep a hole did you burn in your wallet during this year’s shopping bonanza (aka Black Friday)?

I know mine was deep, but it happened in two phases. No, not Black Friday being the first and Cyber Monday being the second – I’m talking about another big sale which happened two weeks ago. Most of this sale happened in Asia where I’m located, and it might sound somewhat alien to anyone living elsewhere.

It’s known as Singles’ Day or 11/11, and it’s just as big as Black Friday. In fact, if you look at the figures, it’s significantly bigger.

A brief history of Singles’ Day

Singles’ Day was started in China by a group of college students who wanted to celebrate singlehood. The date 11/11 was chosen as it resembles four lonely sticks. In 2009, e-commerce giant Alibaba decided to turn this date into a massive online shopping spree and since then, Singles’ Day has become one of the world’s biggest shopping days.

In 2017, Alibaba alone raked in $25.3 billion while the Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined brought in only $11.62 billion. With such an astounding difference, we were curious to see how these shopping sprees are reflected in online conversation.

Singles’ Day vs Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Using Brandwatch Analytics, we tracked mentions of Singles’ Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday across public channels (excluding Twitter) on a 10% sample to see how volumes compared.

The yellow line represents the daily volume mention for Singles’ Day. As expected, we see a sharp increase in mentions towards November 11 (the beginning of the sale) and it then falls right after.

What caught our attention was the different peaks happening for Black Friday. There was a continuous increase in mentions towards November 20th, mainly because sales started early for some vendors. However, it went into a sharp drop on November 21st (likely because people are spending their time away from social media, celebrating Thanksgiving). It then went into a surge of mentions on the actual day of Black Friday (23rd). After a dip, mentions peak again on Cyber Monday on the 26th.

Who in the world participates?

Using Brandwatch Analytics’ demographics component we were able to look at mentions coming from different countries, to see how popular the different shopping days are in conversations across the world.

Here are our results:

The top countries talking about Singles' Day vs Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Singles’ Day Black Friday & Cyber Monday
1. 46% - China 1. 53%- United States
2. 15%- United States 2. 5%- Germany
3. 8%- Japan 3. 4%- United Kingdom
4. 5%- Germany 4. 4%- France
5. 3%- Switzerland 5. 4%- Italy
6. 2%- Indonesia 6. 3%- Spain
7. 2%- Korea 7. 3%- Brazil
8. 2%- Russia 8. 2%- Poland
Note: Mentions were gathered from across languages, but search terms were written in Chinese and English

It came as no surprise that the highest mention count on Singles’ Day was coming from China.

However, it was a surprise to see the United States coming in 2nd ahead of other countries in Asia.

Again, for Black Friday it was predictable that the highest engagement would be coming from the United States and a small number of mentions coming from countries in Europe. One observation we found is that people in Germany sure like to snag a good deal!

What are shoppers looking out for?

Using the topic component in Brandwatch Analytics, we were able to find the top mentioned organizations and keywords within Singles’ Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday conversations.

Alibaba and Lazada were the trending site for Singles’ Day and shoppers are looking at sports apparel, tech products and pharmacy chains by the look of the conversation.

On the other hand, Amazon was the biggest trending site for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with shoppers looking mostly at fashion items, tech products, and gaming products.

What’s clear is that tech products remain the most sought after for both shopping events.

This year, Alibaba have smashed through previous Singles’ Day sale records, generating over $30.8 billion. It was the company’s biggest online shopping day of all time.

Will Black Friday and Cyber Monday be able to out-do them this year?

Special thanks to Brandwatch social media data analyst Tyler Tai Bing Xiang for his work on this research.

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