Alibaba is looking to connect with China’s LGBT shoppers.
The company’s Taobao marketplace sponsored a contest, dubbed “We Do,” that encouraged same-sex couples to enter for a chance to get married at a group ceremony in West Hollywood on Tuesday.
Charlie Gu, a director at China Luxury Advisors, which worked with Alibaba to help organize the event, said there were an estimated 40 million to 70 million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender consumers in China with $300 billion in purchasing power.
Ten couples were selected from 400 entrants, marking the first time a company has launched a campaign to gain awareness for same-sex marriage in China, Gu said. The service will be officiated by Lindsey Horvath, the mayor of West Hollywood, at the West Hollywood Public Library.
Twenty semifinalists were selected by Taobao and asked to submit a video telling their story. The marketplace promoted the campaign by posting the submissions on its site and asking consumers to vote, according to Gu, who said each submission garnered 4,000 to 6,000 votes.
“For Alibaba, as a publicly traded company in the U.S., they want to elevate their status and participation in the global business community,” Gu said, adding that they were inspired by digital leaders like Google and Apple, who are “all stepping up their game to embrace equality. They felt this was the right thing to do.”
Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997, but the government does not recognize same-sex marriages.