27. January 2022 | Chapter China, Retail Marketing

Tapping into the market potential of China’s most important holiday

by Julia Pott (exclusively for EuroShop.mag)

Consumers love shopping festivals and events, and the sales reflect this enthusiasm. Many brands and retailers take advantage of these opportunities to drive sales with tailored marketing and product campaigns. The Chinese New Year (CNY) features a shopping festival that is a boom time for marketers and companies.

A massive opportunity to boost sales

The Chinese Singles’ Day on November 11 keeps breaking sales records. According to the State Council Information Office of China, sales online transaction value on Singles’ Day 2021 reached 965 billion yuan (approximately 152.5 billion U.S. dollars). The Chinese New Year (officially begins on February 1st, 2022) also gives brands and retailers a perfect opportunity to increase sales. In 2021, China’s online sales exceeded 122 billion yuan (or 19.3 billion US dollars), with the combined sales of retail and catering enterprises hitting 821 billion yuan (about 127.5 billion U.S. dollars). That’s because food delivery services and catering play a big role during the festivities. Revenue growth is a sure thing during this time.

The Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival or Lunar Year is a time to celebrate with family. Many Chinese bring gifts and red envelopes for their loved ones or reward themselves for the past year. Chinese people living outside of their country or fans of Chinese culture are also delighted about products that are a symbol of good health, luck, and prosperity for the new year.

How do retailers and brands use CNY as a sales and marketing event? We took a closer look.

Content & design

Fortunately, there are plenty of CNY-inspired design options for marketing campaigns.

Each year in the repeating Chinese zodiac cycle of 12 years is represented by a zodiac animal. 2022 is a Year of the Tiger. According to Chinese superstition, each zodiac animal has its own attributes linked to lucky and unlucky aspects in terms of colors, numbers, elements, or flowers. These components provide great ideas for possible designs.

In its online shop, Hugo Boss is inspired by the Chinese New Year and offers fashion products such as shirts, baseball caps, boxer briefs, socks, and sneakers featuring tiger stripes or tiger print design.

 

 

Gucci is among the luxury brands that released a Lunar New Year 2022 capsule collection that is all about the Year of the Tiger.

Screenshot of Gucci's online store with a woman on a couch, in front of it lies a real tiger

At www.gucci.com under the header “What’s New”, consumers can find the brand’s special capsule collection with luxury fashion products and accessories dedicated to the Year of the Tiger. // © Gucci

 

In Chinese culture, the color red symbolizes luck for the new year. At Lunar New Year, it’s tradition to give red envelopes with money to family and friends, making this a brilliant design option for special offers, mailings, coupons, or promotions.

Screenshot of Target's online store with products in red design

On the start page of its online store, the American big box department store Target showcases products that honor the Chinese Lunar New Year, including accessories one needs to celebrate: decorations, kitchenware, and (party) supplies. // © Target

 

When it comes to content, concepts such as happiness, family, togetherness, and travel are ideal for marketing campaigns and the design of landing pages, mailings, video clips or visuals. Many Chinese citizens travel home for the celebration to visit their family and friends and spend time with one another. During Chinese New Year, Chinese consumers adore warm, comforting, well-wishing messages.

 

Food traditions such as reunion dinners are hugely symbolic and an important part of the celebrations. People whip up elaborate feasts, but also order many meals. It’s another theme that is perfect for campaigns. Many retailers, caterers, and restaurants offer ready-to-cook mixes, menus, gift baskets, food deliveries, discounts, and promotional campaigns.

 

A screenshot of an Instagram post from a bakery

The Chinese New Year is also celebrated outside of China. Bethcrumbs is an Indonesia-based bakery that advertises a CNY-themed menu featuring its products on Instagram. // © Bethcrumbs

 

Shopping events

In recent years, some retailers and brands hosted CNY events in their brick-and-mortar stores. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made this somewhat more difficult.

A gold handbag with a red monkey on it climbing up the numbers 2016

© Bloomingdale’s

Back in 2016, the Year of the Monkey, customers in some of Bloomingdale’s locations could participate in raffles complete with red envelopes to win prizes. Several pop-up shops showcased related gift ideas, a CNY-themed shopping bag and other store offers and events. Tony Spring, Bloomingdale’s CEO explains why the retailer goes all out for the occasion: ”It is one of many highly anticipated holidays that loyal shoppers and tourists enjoy in our stores.”

In 2019, the Year of the Pig, Macy’s customers were able to enjoy a wide array of musical and artistic performances, lucky money walls and trees, traditional Chinese cuisine, Lion Dance performances, and kung fu demonstrations.

Jose Gamio, vice president of Diversity Strategies, Macy’s Inc., proudly talks about the highlights that were in store for customers: “We are proud to continue our long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion by celebrating Lunar New Year with our customers, communities and colleagues. As part of our annual celebration, select stores will honor the ‘Year of the Pig’ with themed special events and specialized, limited-edition merchandise in beauty, home, women’s, men’s, kids and fashion accessories.”

Macy’s also reached out to tourists with exclusive savings for travelers visiting from China during the holiday.

Screenshot of the Macy's website with a completed form that shows the Chinese zodiac sign after entering the birth data

On Macy’s website, visitors can enter their date of birth and find their Chinese animal zodiac sign. // © Macy’s

Are COVID-19 pandemic safety concerns thwarting your onsite events? Not to worry. Online shopping events can be just as exciting. Asian audiences are known to love livestream shopping, and CNY is a great reason to take advantage of this trend. Livestreams are perfectly suited for the theme of the Chinese New Year and benefit from the interaction with consumers.

Several of our articles have explored the opportunities of livestream shopping via social media platforms and highlighted the importance of livestreaming ecommerce in the Asian marketplace.

Teleshopping is so yesterday. Say hello to live streaming!
Could livestream shopping be the e-commerce channel of the future? The latest Chinese trend is poised to conquer the world.
Social media platform conquers social ecommerce: Douyin. Chinese version of TikTok transforms into e-commerce platform.

Finally, social media platforms are not just a great sales opportunity for retailers, but also allow consumers to communicate right before and during the holidays. This is where campaigns that feature user-generated content can stand out from the competition. How do you celebrate the New Year? What are you eating? Which brand has the nicest products that celebrate the Year of the Tiger? Which retailer has the best holiday-themed deals? Brands should try to capitalize on this dynamic and window of opportunity.

Tags: China, content marketing, event marketing, livestream, sales promotion, shopping experience
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