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Alibaba's 'Singles Day' shopping party gives a boost to U.S. brands

Julia La Roche

Big U.S. brands and celebrities were among the stars of Alibaba's (BABA) 11th annual Global Shopping Festival — and the company thinks there's "still room to grow."

Called "Singles Day," (11.11) the world's largest shopping holiday brought in total sales north of $38.4 billion, up 26% year-over-year, across the Chinese e-commerce giant’s ecosystem, according to the latest figures.

More than 200,000 brands, with many coming from the U.S., participated to access more than 500 million Chinese consumers. That compares to the 27 brands featured during the first 11.11 festival back in 2009.

"I think the reason why more and more consumers are joining Double 11 is it's a great platform for consumers to find quality products from the brands they love,” Alibaba's CMO Chris Tung told Yahoo Finance's YFi AM.

“And, I think, many leading brands from the U.S. are doing particularly well this year," he added.

The final tally for Alibaba's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival also known as Singles Day is shown on screen as its passes midnight to set a new record of RMB213.5 billion or more than US$30 billion in Shanghai, China, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. The spending binge has for years eclipsed Cyber Monday in the U.S. for online purchases made on a single day. This year's tally breaks from gloomy forecasts about the world's second-largest economy, which is struggling with a tariff war with the U.S., a stock market slump and slowing overall growth. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The shopping bonanza also featured some well-known American celebrities. Ahead of the event, reality TV mogul Kim Kardashian West participated in a livestream to promote her KKW fragrance line, while Taylor Swift performed at the countdown gala.

Among some of the standouts for U.S. brands is Apple (AAPL), which broke record sales in the first few hours of the event. Estée Lauder (EL), the cosmetics giant, also set a record, surpassing RMB1 billion (over $143 million at Monday’s exchange rate) in pre-order sales.

According to Alibaba, 15 brands hit RMB1 billion ($143 million) in GMV. Those brands from the U.S. include Apple, Bose, Estée Lauder, Gap (GPS), Levi’s (LEVI), Nike (NKE), The North Face (VFC) and Under Armour (UAA), the company said in a release.

Brands like Starbucks (SBUX) and Mondelez (MDLZ) did "very, very well,” according to Tung. "I think [the] key is to keep offering the quality, innovative products to consumers, and there is still huge room to grow here," he added.

For example, snacking giant Mondelez — the parent company of Oreo — debuted a fun-size Oreos packet with assorted nuts and raisins, in collaboration with Alibaba's Tmall Innovation Center.

Alibaba has also made a push to reach the consumers in the lower-tier cities, which represent over 70% of the company's new annual active users.

"There's [an] untapped opportunity in the less developed areas in China where people have [a] huge demand for quality products from all of the world,” Tung told Yahoo Finance. “This is really a great platform to drive continuous growth for the brands we are working with."

Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on 

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