Known traditionally as “Pocky Day” in Japan, 11 November may become “Good Shopping Day” before long.

As we have covered in the past, the date 11/11 is widely known as Pocky Day in honor of one of Japan’s most famous snack foods Pocky… and to a lesser extent Pretz. Foodmaker Glico has been actively promoting Pocky Day for 17 years now, holding photo contests and attempting to out-trend the iPhone5 on Twitter in 2012.

▼ They set a Guinness World Record in the process collecting 1,843,7333 tweets with a Pocky hashtag.

The date’s four ones in a row (11/11) are symbolic of a line-up of those beloved cookie sticks dipped in chocolate, and who’s going to argue with devoting a day to celebrate a light and delicious snack?

Apparently every other company operating in Japan.

Before getting into that, 11 November is also known as Single’s Day in China. The reason stems from the repeated use of the number “1,” and the meaning behind the day is a sort of anti-Valentine’s Day celebrating the benefits of being unattached.

Originating in the 90s, this special day has gradually developed into the largest online shopping day in the country and thus the world. In 2015 Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba generated over US$14 billion in sales on Singles Day alone. It’s enough to make any retailer drool.

▼ Alibaba’s retail site Tmall is offering discounts on baby supplies for Singles Day.

Image: Tmall

Of course, China’s neighbor Japan has been taking note of this trend and has tried to get the ball rolling here too. In an initiative that appears to have been spearheaded by Yahoo! Japan and Softbank, first the title “Good Shopping Day” was jury-rigged together by comparing the number “11” to “ii” which is the Japanese word for “good.”

Knowing there’s strength in numbers they started introducing the concept to other businesses as well. Last year Yahoo! Japan brought together convenience store FamilyMart and video rental shop (yeah, we still have those here) Tsutaya for Good Shopping Day campaigns.

Image: Setuyaku Method

It was considered a success and Yahoo! Japan reported an 800-percent spike in sales on Good Shopping Day. This year they are joined by 39 other companies including Yoshinoya and Mercedes Benz. Purchases from participating businesses will result in an extra 1,111 points on T-Point cards which is  a kind of multi-purpose video-rental-credit-loyalty card.

▼ Softbank is offering large discounts through their online store

Image: Softbank

Conventional wisdom tells us you can’t stop a holiday fueled by widespread commerce, so where does that leave Pocky Day? Will the two learn to co-exist somehow, or will Pocky Day ads be but a drop in an ocean of Good Shopping Day bargain announcements?

Time will tell, but Pocky isn’t resting on its laurels. The biscuit sticks have been branching out to other countries such as China and Taiwan to keep their brand entrenched on 11 November. This year they are holding an social media campaign encouraging users from abroad to upload smiling pictures.

▼ The campaign has advertisements in Japanese…

▼ …English…

▼ …Bahasa Indonesia…

▼ …and both simplified and traditional Chinese.

Images: Pocky

However this plays out, 11 November seems destined to become the day for shopping, online or otherwise in Asia. Now if someone can manage to make Singles Day, Pocky Day, or Good Shopping Day a widely recognized holiday to western countries, they would go down as a marketing genius…and perhaps a jerk.

Although there is the question, what would an 11 November-themed Starbucks holiday cup look like? Perhaps the first company to strike a deal with the coffee giant will be the true victor.

Source: Sankei News West (Japanese)
Top image: Pocky