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Chinese consumers don’t really care about sustainability — does Alibaba?

You might have come across lots of fruits produced by Alibaba’s PR labours, parading its sustainability efforts done for this year’s Double 11, which coincided with COP26.

CampaignAsia wrote Double 11 was less about the discounts and that sustainability is top of mind. Other English media outlets such as Reuters, SMCP, CNBC, Forbes, China Daily covered it too. Most of them are just mindlessly copy-pasting Alibaba’s press releases, which only tells a bit of the situation.

A red herring?

To its credit, Alibaba did do several things. Already Dao Insights covered that Alibaba was using more renewable energy for its data centres, cutting 26,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Its logistics network Cainiao launched a box recycling scheme, and its planting trees through Ant Forest (a mini-program initiated by Alibaba on its online payment platform Alipay) with extra award points (and thus trees) during Double 11.

The 100 million RMB worth of coupons is only 0.0185% of its total 540.3 billion RMB revenue produced by Double 11.

Also, Taobao had a special page for renewable/sustainable “green” products, spearheaded by an arsenal of influencers. Plus, it gave out an “expected” value of 100 million RMB ($15.7 million) in coupons for green products. This seems stunning until you dig deeper.


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