How Chinese Retailers Profited From International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day — and in China, it has become a surefire sales opportunity.

On March 8, Chinese retailers rebranded the day as a celebration of sorts. Dubbing it “Queen’s Day” or “Goddess’ Day,”  companies, particularly their e-commerce offshoots, looked to entice female shoppers into spending money on clothes, accessories and cosmetics with discounts and coupons centered on women’s TLC.

Multinational conglomerate Alibaba transformed a web page on its Tmall platform to include the designation “Queen’s Day,” in which a woman is pictured gazing at a red ankle-strap pump. Online beauty retailer Jumei took to a section on its site to post makeup and skin-care product promotions for the “Goddess’ Day” transcreation. And Vipshop, a leading discount e-tailer in China, chose to market the day as a spring makeover of sorts, through which women can partake in markdowns for lingerie and undergarments.

Although the stream of advertisements certainly draws attention, retailers who use this moment in the hopes of increasing revenue have garnered their own share of critics. On microblogging site Weibo, Chinese netizens and women’s rights advocates have shared their disappointment in posts that condemn the commercialization and materialism on a day meant to highlight gender parity and women’s empowerment.

This comes at a time when women in China are facing challenges from a traditional government, from the shutdown of a leading women’s legal aid center in Beijing to the 2015 Women’s Day arrests of female activists who had planned a rally to protest sexual harassment.

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