Toning down the world’s largest spectacle of consumption to avoid a clash with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s common prosperity drive and environmental goals were never going to be an easy feat.
For the $456 billion Alibaba (9988.HK), the 11-day shopping fest held this month was an awkward mix of flogging $84.5 billion worth of discounted iPhones, lipsticks and more, while playing up the company’s environmental and social responsibilities. Instead of broadcasting to the world a real-time tally of shopping transactions, for instance, the company opted for live-streamed fundraising for an elephant reserve, Reuters reported. Still, the splurge looked conspicuous against China’s supply chain disruptions, electricity shortages, fresh virus outbreaks and broader macroeconomic woes.
Alibaba’s efforts failed to strike the right balance. Just a day after the festival ended, an opinion published by Chinese state media blasted it as a “worship of turnover” that stimulated “low-level” consumption incompatible with the country’s development. As each year passes, the festival may be less important to the company’s bottom line. Calling it off completely is the best thing to do.