Chinese New Year starts on January 28 this year, and goes through to February 15. 2017 is the Year of the Rooster – a creature representing courage, hard work, passion, confidence and talent.

There are many ways that brands can maximise marketing opportunities during the festival. But it all starts with understanding why the festival is important to Chinese people.

The importance of Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year (CNY) is based on the lunar calendar, and is also known as Lunar New Year and the Spring Festival. It is a very special time for Chinese people all round the world, with the festival representing a positive, fresh start to the new year.

Here are a few facts about the two-week festival:

  • Much like Christmas or Thanksgiving in the west, CNY involves family reunions. In China, it comes with a three-day national holiday, during which many people travel to spend time with their families.
  • Preparations usually begin long before the event, with families adorning their homes with paper decorations, and stocking up on food for celebratory banquets.
  • Entertainment and celebration are important aspects of the festival, involving dragon dancing, singing, drama, and fireworks.
  • Red packets or envelopes containing money are traditionally given to younger family members – to wish them a prosperous start for the new year.
  • Shopping, eating and gift-giving are all important, as a way of setting a positive tone for the year ahead. Popular foods include dumplings, and sweet rice cakes.
  • Besides “Happy New Year,” traditional greetings revolve around wishes for good luck, good fortune, and much happiness.

Where to start

As a marketer, your starting point should be to get to know as much as you can about the festival – especially about what it means in the hearts and minds of Chinese people, and how they like to celebrate.

This way you can build on ancient traditions, while creating your own take on them to make your brand stand out.

Marketing tips for brands

Make the most of digital platforms. Examples include social media posting and interaction (for example on WeChat and Weibo), email campaigns and greetings, digital red envelopes, e-commerce sales through as Taobao and Tmall, and the use of QR codes.

Make sure to make online sales as easy as possible, and to offer fast mobile payment options and fast deliveries.

Here are a few more ideas for getting started:

  • Greetings – try coming up with your own unique greetings as part of your new year branding in China. This way, when people hear the greeting, they are likely to associate it with you. It’s vital to get the language right, which means using Chinese language speakers to localise your content, ones that fully understand the importance of the festival.
  • Competitions and rewards – consider running competitions with prizes, or offering rewards for sharing your content.
  • Themes – make the most of new year themes for promoting your brand, such as happiness, nostalgia, prosperity, and good fortune.
  • Colour – don’t ignore the importance of colour in Chinese culture. Red is a particularly important colour during CNY – representing good luck and prosperity. Make sure to play this up in your campaigns.

If you need some help in making your brand stand out from the crowd, our bilingual team at Digital Crew can offer lots of tips on China marketing and creating a brand strategy for this very important festival.

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