×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mariah Carey, Miranda Kerr Help Lift Alibaba to Record-Breaking Sales on ‘Singles Day’

Chinese shoppers snapped up a record $30.7 billion of merchandise Sunday through e-commerce giant Alibaba, in celebration of a recently invented holiday called Singles Day, China’s equivalent of the U.S.’ Black Friday. Western celebrities including singer Mariah Carey and model Miranda Kerr were on hand to encourage the orgy of online consumerism.

Sales hit $1 billion in a blistering 85 seconds, and rose 27% overall this year. Yet as China grapples with a slowdown in its economy and a trade war with the U.S., the growth figure marked the slowest annual increase in the event’s 10-year history, down from 39% last year. 

Alibaba’s New York-traded shares doubled in 2017, but this year are down 16%. Pre-opening  Monday, the shares were largely unchanged.

The made-up holiday began as an unofficial day for singletons because its Nov. 11 date was playfully deemed a reference to “bare branches,” a colloquial Chinese term for bachelors. Written in Chinese, “11-11” looks like a parade of four bare tree limbs. Alibaba co-opted the day a decade ago and expanded it into what is now the world’s biggest online retail event, with sales this year surpassing the combined totals of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S. Other Chinese firms, including online rival JD.com and retailer Suning, now also have Nov. 11 sales, with JD pulling in its own record of nearly $23 billion in sales Sunday. 

Alibaba has pushed to make the lead-up to the day a media event in its own right. This year it used its online video platform Youku to stream a celebrity-studded gala Saturday night to stir up a buying frenzy for the next day.

Carey sang her songs “Emotions” and “Hero” before chatting awkwardly with the host about her online shopping habits, while Kerr plugged her skincare line before attempting to sing a few bars of a popular Chinese song. Cirque du Soleil performers did a shopping-themed number. Beyonce may not have been available, so Alibaba made do with a plus-sized Japanese Beyonce impersonator, the comedian Naomi Watanabe, who strutted her stuff in a fringed gold leotard and flowing blonde tresses, while belting out a plausible rendition of “Crazy in Love.” 

This year marks the last Singles Day led by Jack Ma, Alibaba founder and leading light. Ma announced in September that he would step down from his role as the company’s chairman next year. 

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Department of Justice

    United States Soldier Charged After Planning to Bomb Major News Network

    The Department of Justice has charged a United States Army soldier who allegedly plotted to bomb a major U.S. news network, distributed information online on bomb-making, planned to join a violent far-right paramilitary group in Ukraine and insinuated an assassination attempt on Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. Jarrett William Smith, a 24-year-old U.S. infantry solider [...]

  • Geox Campaign Siffat Haider

    Finding Love and Serenity Through Food

    With a near-obsessive and rapidly growing family of 61,000 followers on Instagram, Toronto-based lifestyle influencer/blogger Siffat Haider travels the planet — and the city — sharing all things beautiful and delicious in a curated visual diary, @icingandglitter. Haider has been featured on numerous blogs, news outlets and commercial sites and is founder/host of the popular [...]

  • Led-Zeppelin-1971

    'Stairway to Heaven' Copyright Case Argued at 9th Circuit

    The attorney who claims that Led Zeppelin ripped off the acoustic guitar opening in “Stairway to Heaven” faced tough questioning on Monday before an 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Francis Malofiy argued the case on behalf Michael Skidmore, a journalist who represents the estate of the late Spirit frontman Randy Wolfe. [...]

  • Latin Recording Academy Names Manuel Abud

    Latin Recording Academy Names Manuel Abud COO

    As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, the Latin Recording Academy today announced several key changes to its leadership team. Former Azteca America president/CEO Manuel Abud has been named the organization’s chief operating officer, while 19-year Latin Grammy vet Luis Dousdebes takes on the new position of Chief Awards, Membership and Preservation Officer. Also, Aida Scorza, who has worked [...]

  • 'OpenAP' CEO David Levy Sees New

    'OpenAP' CEO David Levy Charts New Course

    A consortium built by some of the nation’s biggest media outlets to win new kinds of advertising is quickly changing its course. Founded in 2017 by Viacom, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner, OpenAP was initially designed to help marketers figure out ways to buy advertising based on reaching segments of audience that aren’t defined [...]

  • Spin Lab

    Big Deal Inks Joint Venture With Ricky Reed’s Nice Life Company

    Independent music publisher Big Deal Music Group announced today that they have signed a joint venture deal with Nice Life Copyright Company, the music publishing company founded by Grammy-nominated producer/ writer/ artist Ricky Reed.  Under the terms of the agreement, Big Deal will administer songs for Nice Life, and the two companies will join forces [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content