Why was Alibaba’s 9.9 Wine & Spirits Festival Day such a disappointment?

Apr 19, 2017 No Comments by


The marketing team behind Tmall, the online platform of Alibaba, has been quite silent as the hype and promotions leading up to the first Wine & Spirits Festival Day on September 9th (9.9) died down. You would think something happening for the first time would be treated better than being completely ignored.



Seeing how Alibaba has been quick to release its sales figures for “Singles Day” on November 11th every year, but not for this. After the day had ended, a lot of requests were made to acquire statistics but no one succeeded in getting anything out of the company. It is expected that the company would eventually release such news but even now, it has been too slow to produce something statistically substantial for the recorders which have the people worried.

Alibaba 8.8 has disappointed a lot of spectators on a big scale

tmall Alcohol

Both the importers as well as the producers were brimming with excitement over this festival; that too so near to the market closing. However, Alibaba 8.8 has disappointed a lot of spectators on a big scale. Come to think of it, is it possible for the wine industry to be boosted just by a celebration on a particular day to promote wine drinking and encourage new Chinese wine consumers to buy it? “Yes, we can!” was the answer Alibaba gave earlier this year; however, it didn’t seem to be that way. source Forbes

More than 400 million active buyers


Given the size of Tmall’s audience, which is more than 400 million active buyers, the potential of the festival was that certainly that it would attract numerous importers, producers, and wine associations were supporting the festival but according to what little can be guessed, for now, the figures must be disappointing–or mediocre at best. Vague data is the only thing that the company has provided till now. One infographic that was provided by the company stated: “The volume sold in five minutes on 9.9 is the same as what Italian people drink in five days.” Again, no clear figures have been provided.

The volume sold in the first half hour is equal to the production of Château Lafite in seven years

Lafite Bibi

Another infographic states that the volume sold in the first half hour is equal to the production of Château Lafite in seven years. But have the figures been given? No. Again, neither that nor the exact production of Château Lafite has been provided by the management of Tmall. Lots of grand cru class wines from Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Château Lafite), packaged at RMB 20,180 which costs roughly around $3,025 USD is sold 500 lots in the first three minutes alone. The rest is sold out in one hour, according to what was mentioned in the press release. This time the company has been giving answers but only vague ones and while keeping the real ones a secret. There’s always a ‘but’ at the end of the statement like these. Hence, as expected, there is no description of the lots’ contents and no figures on the total number of lots are available either. This mystery is keeping everyone on toes but the main question going in everyone’s minds is: why the secrecy?

Spirits, and especially baijiu brand Mao-tai, seems to have done very well, as been told in a press release. The press release also said that Mao-tai, distilled Chinese liquor that is consumed widely around the country, was favored in 17 provinces in China while three provinces – namely, Shanghai, Guangdong, and Yunnan – preferred wine, beer, and spirits over Mao-tai.

Critics on China’s social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo



Social Media link to ecommerce in China !

The festival had its share of critics on China’s social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo. One public account by Domaine de Aromes, a small wine producer in Ningxia, writing under the name “Bo Na Bai Fu Jiu Zhuang,” was especially blunt and straightforward about the shortcomings of the Alibaba’s Wine and Spirits Festival Day 9.9. He claimed that the festival was promoting the wrong wine culture, one that according to him “disregards the bottom line for producers.” There were also several other people pointing to the lack of authentication of Tmall products – a wine lover’s group with the WeChat public account Nanvilla 2012 said that the festival sold fake wine instead of real and expensive ones and that consumers should be careful before they loot them.

All in all, this was a shaky start to a festival that is initiated with the plan to be held annually. It could have been a dramatic turnaround and essential for the wine industry in China, however, with no concrete information, there is nothing that could be said except the genuine expression of dissatisfaction. The volume of sales may seem reasonable for some analysts but according to standards set by Alibaba itself, the sale volume in this festival was not good enough. Next year festival was more important in this regard because everyone knows that Alibaba will come very strong next time and stay ready for that.


Chinese Wine Industry, News, Wine Marketing in China

About the author

Olivier VEROT, is a Marketing expert for the Chinese Market. He will speak about the Internet trends about wine and about the Marketing best practices.
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