The smart devices market is slowed and still at a low point against the gradually recovering society and economy in 2023.

However, the Double 11 shopping season in China 2023 brought up positive surprises. As consumer demand is thawing, finding an affordable substitute when shopping has caught on like wildfire among most consumers across China alongside the trend of focusing on cost-effectiveness.

Consumers refocused on essential devices.

During this Double 11 shopping season, the demand for the three mainstream consumer electronics including PCs, mobile phones, and tablets grew beyond expectations, which is one of the main drivers of the overall smart devices market.

According to IDC survey, from October 23 to November 3, 2023, the overall PC market (including notebooks and desktops selling on e-commerce platforms, vendors’ official online stores, and traditional offline channels) grew by 1,4% YoY. And, the tablet market grew by 13,5% YoY, the mobile phone market, 9,2% YoY, the display market, 5,3% YoY, the smartwatch (excluding children’s watches) market, 23,6% YoY, and the smart bracelet market, 15,2% YoY.

* PC market – The overall PC retail market saw a positive year-over-year growth, with gaming notebooks being favored. This growth was benefited by the discounted prices thanks to large number of promotions and shopping vouchers offered by online and traditional stores during the Double 11 shopping season, and the increasing demand for gaming PCs driven by the increase of PC demand in productivity-focused use cases such as design, programming, gaming, and AI.

* Mobile phone market – The mobile phone market continued to gain its momentum happened during the past two months. Driven by many new kinds of products in promotion and vouchers and discounts offered by e-commerce platforms, consumers’ willingness to get new mobile phones was significantly better than the same period last year, contributing to an about 9% overall market growth YoY. iPhone 15 phones, as featured products of various e-commerce platforms was still very attractive, helping Apple ranked first successfully in sales at one point.

* Tablet market – iPad 9, Huawei MatePad 2023 and Xiaomi Pad 6 led in the sales in the price segment below RMB2 000. In the price segment above RMB2 000, Xiaomi Pad 6 Pro, Huawei MatePad 11 and Air 2023 saw higher sales, and the best-selling models in the price segment above RMB3 000 were iPad 10 and iPad Pro.

Incumbents held their stable positions

Despite the good performance showed by new players including Douyin, Kuaishou, Pinduoduo and Xiaohongshu during Double 11, and still had untouchable market positions.

The proliferation of e-commerce platforms has led to fragmented consumer buying behaviors, thus platforms all brought forward their events to seize market share, with the “Lowest Price Guaranteed” as their main selling points.

In the middle of diversified platforms and increasingly complex promotions, some consumers chose the platform that best meets their needs after doing comprehensively comparison shopping such as who offered the largest discount or more attractive gifts, but most still chose the platform they are most familiar with at the last moment – or

With stabler consumer base and higher customer loyalty, each of these giants has erected the biggest competitive barriers against others players.

Frugal conformists and calculative independents were the main consumers during this Double 11 shopping season

Despite the recovering economy and increased demand, consumers were focused more on cost-effectiveness when shopping during this Double 11, caring more about price and quality.

According to IDC, the key consumers could be divided into four categories: tastemakers, decent clotheshorses, frugal conformists, and calculative independents.

The main parts of consumers engaged in the Double 11 shopping season were calculative independents and especially frugal conformists which have a large population and are highly price-sensitive and with the tendency of following the crowd.

For the calculative independents, the matching of product performance and price is important. This category kept their eyes on various promotions held on major platforms, but not to place orders until they found the products that best meet their own needs by comparing across all platforms and channels. They tended to choose affordable substitutes that meet their needs in both price and performance but with some little dissatisfiers compared with expensive and higher quality products and are in line with their daily needs.