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It’s not all Cyber Monday: Global e-commerce dates for your diary

The Holiday season is over. The January sales are in full swing and many international businesses are preparing upcoming campaigns for 2014. Of course, pivotal dates like Black Friday and Cyber Monday earned their place for the year’s most profitable e-retail dates. But when it comes to international ecommerce, do the opportunities end there?

In this blog post Oban highlight a few key dates from around the world. Whether it’s local celebrations or traditional festivals, such events can present a lucrative opportunity for capturing online audiences in international markets.

July 28th – 29th, A light in the Andes, Peru
Great for: Tourism, retail and leisure

To celebrate independence from Spain, the Peruvian nation starts its annual celebration of the National Holidays on the 28th July with festivities lasting up to four days. Although grounded in nationalistic spirit, these celebrations have a strong consumerist angle. By law, all workers from both private and public sectors receive “aguinaldo” from their employers – a double paycheck that creates an upsurge in buying power and spending capabilities.

A fortunate ‘coincidence’ is the festivities take place during the dry season in the Andes. A time when domestic and overseas tourism flourish. Consequently, the main airlines LAN1 and TACA2 as well as other businesses drive online campaigns months prior to the National Holidays. In addition, Cyber Peru Day3 – a Peruvian version of Cyber Monday – is organised by the Peruvian Chamber of Commerce specifically for the national celebrations.

It’s no wonder online expenditure in Peru has steadily increased over the past few years. In 2012, e-commerce grew by 43% compared to 2011, reaching $800 million4. Tourism, travel and retail services such as flowers and clothing are hugely successful online, presenting a strong foothold in the market5.

October 31st – November 2nd, Day of the Dead, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Spain and the United States
Great for: Retail, leisure, FMCG, travel

Skeletons, little devils, carnivals and piñatas. In popular Mexican belief, these symbols are immediately associated with the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos). Taking place annually on the October 31st to November 2nd, this celebration honours the memory of the departed. While the tradition is of Mexican origin, the event also takes places in Guatemala, Brazil and Spain. It’s also hugely popular in the U.S. due to the country’s large contingency of Mexican origin residents (33.7 million in 2012, accounting 64% of its Hispanic population)6. A recent study from Golin Harris estimate 28% of this population celebrates the Day of the Dead by buying or baking Pan de Muertos (25%) and building altars (17%). Traditionally, families display altars in their houses in remembrance of loved ones who have passed away. Often decorated with a wide range of products (ranging from sugar skulls, flowers, candles, to pictures, food and beverages) it features a mixture of the departed’s favorite items. Held throughout the country, people additionally visit the graves of the departed to give gifts and food.

In 2012, the Mexican Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce and Tourism Services, reported sales of approximately $1,500 million7 during the celebration8. Whilst Buscape, a Brazilian comparison shopping service that operates in Latin America, saw online searches for flowers increase by 65% and candles by 30% respectively. Similarly, searches for costumes increased by 98%, photo frames by 45% and religious articles by 28%9, during the 2013 celebration compared to 2012.

Second only to Brazil10, Mexico’s online market presents a great opportunity for businesses that want to increase their profit margins. With half of Mexico already online (approximately 57 million users out of a total population of 113 million11) and e-commerce increased by 43% in 2013 compared to 201212, this unique market is waiting to be explored.

Mid-October to Mid-November, Diwali (The Festival of Light), India
Great for: Travel, leisure, FMCG and retail

With an e-retail industry increasing from $76 billion (2013) to almost $83 billion (2014)13, India has more than enough to offer in terms of online opportunity. Diwali, a festival that celebrates light over darkness, the triumph of good over evil, is one of the most important celebrations in the calendar. Lasting five days between the months of October and November, Diwali has become a significant date for e-commerce in India.

This festival features an array of gift giving for family, friends and loved ones, throughout the celebration. From gold and silver jewellery to home decorations, new clothing, personalised presents, cards, candles, personal care items, fireworks, to even entertainment and gambling (which is considered good luck during the festival).

The Indian Chamber of Commerce reports e-sales for Diwali had an exponential increase of 250% in 2013. This was largely attributed to a positive change in consumer attitudes, with many going online to avoid crowded markets, long queues and traffic jams during the festival. Similarly, consumers use the internet to take advantage of a wider variety of products, discounts and competitive prices14.

November 11th, Singles Day, China
Great for: Retail, FMCG and leisure

Singles Day, or Guanggun Jie is one of the biggest days of the year in terms of e-commerce sales in China. Celebrating bachelor life, it takes place every 11th November and is a hugely important day for retailers to launch promotions and maximise sales. In 2013 major brands like Chinese owned Alibaba reached sales of record level heights. By 1:04 pm on the day China’s largest e-commerce company saw sales hit Rmb 19.1bn ($3.1bn). The equivalent of 2012’s total sales on Singles Day and almost double of USA’s Cyber Monday 2012 after Thanksgiving. Moreover, the figures almost doubled by midnight reaching a staggering Rmb 35bn ($5.7bn) in sales!

An advantage of this event is that it occurs during a slow selling season, in-between National Day on 1st October and New Year celebrations15. With an impressive growth rate in sales since its creation in the early 1990s Singles Day has become a vital e-commerce date in China in less than twenty years.

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1 LAN Independence Day offers
2 Taca Peruvian Independence Day offers
3 Diario Perú21 – July 2013
4 Diario Gestion – Jan 2013
5 Diario Gestion – Jan 2013
6 Pew Cente: A Demographic Portrait of Mexican Origins in the United States
7 CNN – Nov 2012
8 CNN – Nov 2012
9 Merca 2.0: Día de los muertos
10 Pulso Social: E-commerce in latin America
11 E-Marketer Digital Adoption in México
12 Mercadotecnia: e-commerce en Mexico
13 The 2009-2014 Outlook for Online Retail Sales (e-Commerce) in Asia
14 The Hindu Business online: E-commerce firms beat slowdown blues during Diwali
15 Businessweek: Forget Cyber Monday: China’s Singles Day