The end of the year is a busy time for shoppers in two of the largest consumer markets in the world.
In China, consumers snap up billions of dollars of purchases on what is known as the Singles' Day festival " effectively the country's "Black Friday" " every year, feeding a seemingly insatiable appetite for online shopping.
They spent a record-breaking $38.4 billion on Singles' Day, November 11, this year.
The same month, consumers in the US embarked on the yearly Black Friday shopping frenzy, the day after Thanksgiving. American shoppers have been known to elbow each other and even get into fights in their attempts to grab heavily discounted flat-screen televisions or Xbox gaming consoles.
LETS GO BLACK FRIDAY FIGHT NIGHT SHOWDOWN pic.twitter.com/stZLn4H4Yv
" muffin 🧱 (@muffinmannn_) November 29, 2019
The buying spree extends to the Monday after, called Cyber Monday, when e-commerce platforms like Amazon and the online platforms of bricks-and-mortar retailers such as Walmart and Target typically offer steep discounts.
This year, consumers in the US spent nearly $17 billion online in total during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
Market watchers often use sales trends and spending during these mega shopping festivals as barometers of consumption in the US and China. Retailers use them as an opportunity to analyze the items in consumers' shopping carts and understand what shoppers want.
Chinese e-commerce platforms like Alibaba and JD.com often work with brands to reverse-engineer products that customers will want to purchase using shopping data. Alibaba owns Inkstone.
That data has revealed some interesting trends regarding the online shopping behavior of US and Chinese consumers. Here are the ones that caught our eyes.
Chinese consumers are splurging on their pets
A booming pet ownership market in China means female shoppers in big Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai splurged on their pets.
At one point during Singles' Day, pet food was the top imported product, surpassing even imported milk powder for infants.
Americans spend more on gifts than anything else during Thanksgiving weekend
Much of the shopping in the US from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday is driven by the upcoming holiday season, as shoppers stock up on gifts for loved ones.
Gifts accounted for about 70% of US shoppers' expenditure on holiday items over the five-day sales period, according to data from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Top gift purchases over the weekend included apparel, toys, electronics and gift cards.
Hi-tech skincare devices " including face massagers " are gaining popularity in China
Alibaba's import e-commerce platform Kaola and business-to-consumer site Tmall both identified hi-tech beauty products as one of the hottest trends for Singles' Day this year.
These included electric face massagers and heated foot baths.
Americans like their toys … and air fryers?
The hottest products of Black Friday included Frozen 2 toys and Nerf guns by Hasbro, as well as video games such as FIFA 20 and the Nintendo Switch console, according to Adobe Analytics.
Air fryers, known as a healthier alternative to deep-frying frozen foods such as French fries and chicken wings, are a new trend sweeping America. The cooking tool featured among the top electronics alongside Apple's Airpods and Samsung TVs.
Men's clothes and skincare products were popular in China
Over Black Friday, Kaola saw growth in the sales of men's shoes, apparel and bags in China far outpace the same categories for women.
Skincare products for men were also popular, and there was a surge in demand for creams that lighten the skin tone among this demographic.
Young shoppers are driving online spending in both countries
In the US, the biggest spenders were those aged 25-34, the demographic commonly known as millennials.
They spent about $440 on average on holiday items over the Thanksgiving weekend, compared to $362 across age groups, according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Among Chinese consumers, those born in 1995 and after were the largest demographic when it came to buying imported items on Alibaba's Tmall.
They were followed by millennials born in the 1980s and early 1990s.
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