The lunar new year is right around the corner! For foreign brands in China, it’s a golden opportunity to resonate with the local market through traditional Chinese culture and festivities.
Last year, this festive season generated $2.2 trillion in e-commerce sales for China. With Chinese consumers ready to spend their money during this public holiday, your marketing strategy must be on point.
Read along as we discuss effective Chinese New Year marketing campaigns and get inspired by the strategies already executed by other global brands in the past few years.
Why is the Chinese Spring Festival important for your business?
The cultural significance of the Chinese New Year period is deeply rooted in China’s tradition, family values, and belief in new beginnings. It’s kind of like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Thanksgiving all rolled into one culturally rich, vibrant event.
Consumer spending in China skyrocketed during the Lunar New Year celebrations last year. After the pandemic restrictions had eased, the Spring Festival period saw significant growth in various sectors. Here are 2023’s consumption trends to highlight the importance of this Chinese tradition for your brand:
● Heightened Demand for Food Brands
According to a report by JD.com, the 2023 Lunar New Year saw a six-fold year-over-year growth in “3R” food (ready-to-cook, ready-to-heat, and ready-to-eat) categories. Compared to the past few years, this demand shift indicates heightened consumption in China’s F&B sector for this year’s biggest holidays.
Consumers lining up for ready-made food during CNY 2023 (Source: China Daily)
● Digital Platform Engagement Peaks
With the ongoing digital revolution in China, social and e-commerce platforms like WeChat, Tmall, and Xiaohongshu become hubs of online shopping festivals and transactions.
Not only did Chinese consumers honour traditions by buying gifts or giving red packets to friends and family members, but they also spent the holiday engaging, sharing, and celebrating online.
WeChat’s red envelope event has recorded over 4 billion transactions in 2023. The success of this Lunar New Year campaign alone symbolizes just how active the local consumers are during this period.
According to a post from Little Red Book, the number of user-generated content about travel increased by 70% during the 2023 CNY campaign period. This trend shows how the interactive nature of social media apps influences how consumers celebrate this holiday.
● Surging Sales of CNY Limited Edition Items
Local consumers celebrate Chinese New Year by giving holiday-themed gift boxes for good fortune. Thanks to this holiday tradition, JD.com has recorded a 171% year-on-year increase in orders placed during the CNY period.
Compared to the 2022 Lunar New Year campaigns, the sales in this local e-commerce platform hiked up to 90%. The search volume for holiday-related gifts and decorations also increased more than 3.5 times than the previous year.
Most popular Chinese New Year gifts in China in 2023 (Source: Statista)
As you can see from Statista’s data, the most popular gift items during the holiday are beverages and snacks. With this much demand for these products, it’s the perfect time for brands under these categories to boost their Lunar New Year marketing campaign by releasing CNY-themed items.
For example, Coca-Cola released an exclusive dragon-themed branding campaign to emphasize 2024’s Chinese zodiac animal of the year. By launching a limited-edition product, the global brand was able to resonate better with its local consumers and sell more.
Coca-Cola dragon-themed branding campaign for 2024
5 Chinese New Year Marketing Campaign Strategies For 2024
1. Cultural Representation in Branding
The best Lunar New Year campaigns start with a local perspective. As a foreign brand, you must remember that how this holiday is celebrated in China differs from the rest of the world.
Understanding these cultural differences is your gateway to successful Chinese New Year marketing campaigns. However, you wouldn’t want to overdo it with typical symbolisms like Lunar New Year’s zodiac animal collections.
The perfect example of this is Nike’s Lunar New Year marketing campaign last year. They worked with China’s biggest athletes to create an inspirational film entitled “Little Big Talk.” It aims to connect with the struggles of the country’s Gen Z, aligning with its brand message to never stop dreaming big.
Nike Chinese New Year 2023 marketing campaign
The brand also makes it a point to release campaign-specific hashtags on platforms like Weibo and WeChat to take advantage of user-generated content.
2. Brand-Community Interaction
As previously stated, Lunar New Year in China is a time when people celebrate not only physically but also digitally. Foreign brands who intend to capitalize on this holiday can consider holding online contests, giveaways, or engagement posts to increase engagement in your social profiles and generate interest from potential consumers.
You can invite your audience to share stories or mention someone in the comments who brings joy into their lives. This kind of positive, feel-good content perfectly matches the Chinese New Year theme of happiness, family, love, and hope.
Coca-Cola had a similar Lunar New Year marketing campaign in 2019 that became a massive hit for their social media channels. It generated over 650,000 reposts, helping the brand build trust and a lasting connection with its audience.
3. Showcasing Brand Culture
Today’s Chinese customers crave genuine connection to the brands they’re patronizing. As Lunar New Year traditions talk about family, what better way to join the celebration than by letting your target audience peek behind the curtains?
Show them the faces and stories that make your brand what it is. Remember that the Lunar New Year is more than a time for selling a product or service. It’s also a perfect chance to build a deeper relationship with the local consumer market.
By humanizing your brand during this festive season, you’re creating a business that locals can believe in and stand behind. China is currently in the age of conscious consumerism, so your brand’s values and actions could be why they patronize your products and services.
4. Utilizing Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)
Collaborating with KOLs is a timeless digital marketing strategy that global brands can rely on regardless of the season. Some brands sometimes don’t necessarily have to incorporate typical Chinese New Year representations to generate traction during this holiday. All they need is to find the right influencer and tap into their follower base.
Miu Miu did precisely that in their 2023 CNY marketing campaign. The brand collaborated with known personalities like Qiu Tian and Amber Kuo. Thanks to its solid reputation and the popularity of its chosen influencers, the promotional film garnered over 7 million views on Weibo.
Miu Miu’s Chinese New Year Marketing Campaign with KOLs (Source: Jing Daily)
The consistency of the brand’s image and the subtle nod to the Chinese New Year symbols on the product’s design helped Miu Miu to gather positive campaign results.
China’s luxury market seems to have enormous success utilizing top KOLs in their Lunar New Year marketing campaigns. Dior and Prada, in particular, employed the same strategy for their CNY celebrations.
5. Prioritize Your Target Audience’s Channels
When it comes to launching a Lunar New Year marketing campaign, brands must observe which online channels their target audience is using. Take the global luxury brand Gucci, for example.
Besides releasing exclusive items for the festivities, the brand drove traffic to its social media channels by posting different content on each platform. Gucci was able to maximize the video features of popular Chinese apps not only by releasing a campaign film but also by posting short clips of their brand ambassadors.
Gucci Chinese New Year 2024 campaign
They also made their Lunar New Year marketing campaign more Gen-Z friendly by maximizing WeChat content features. From posting articles and setting up branded stickers to creating a mini program for the event, all these features are integrated across all the brand’s profiles.
Best Chinese New Year Marketing Ideas From Global Brands
As a foreign marketer, major lunar calendar celebrations can be hard to get used to. However, Lunar New Year brand activations from global brands are not new in the Chinese market. Here are a few noteworthy campaigns to inspire you to create your strategy:
● Burberry Chinese New Year Weibo Short Film
Burberry is another luxury company that realizes the power of social media platforms in China during the lunar new year. They smartly debuted a sneak peek of their holiday-themed video, “A New Awakening,” on Weibo.
This brief 60-second video content attracted over 3.4 million views. Even more impressive, the hashtag associated with it exploded, racking up over 89.5 million impressions.
● Chen Yingjie x Vans
Vans made a brilliant marketing move by collaborating with Chen Yingjie, known as Huatunan, a famous young artist from Foshan, China. They launched a special CNY collection featuring tiger designs, tapping into the influencer’s significant following.
The collection saw huge engagement from young people, thanks to the buzz created on WeChat by influential trendsetters and fashion bloggers. Plus, the traction was fueled further by a dedicated topic on Weibo for the launch.
VANS X HUATUNAN YEAR OF THE TIGER COLLECTION (Source: Vans Website)
● McDonald’s Hall of Zodiacs
McDonald’s dove into the metaverse for the 2022 Lunar New Year with the “Hall of Zodiacs.” Collaborating with Humberto Leon, co-founder of the fashion label Opening Ceremony, they crafted a collection showcasing zodiac animal designs in a vibrant, virtual world.
Consumers can access this marketing experience via Altspace and Spatial VR on mobile and desktop. It helped the brand to have a fresh, interactive way to join the celebrations and resonate with younger target audiences.
For foreign marketers looking to make a splash locally, this blend of traditional elements, digital innovation, and cross-media marketing is a masterclass in engaging with a market as diverse as China.
McDonald’s Hall of Zodiacs (Source: McDonald’s)
Is Chinese New Year a big deal in China?
Chinese New Year is the most important traditional event in China, deeply rooted in the country’s rich culture and history. It’s a holiday where families come together, with a huge emphasis on starting fresh. For marketers, it’s a golden opportunity to connect with customers through culturally relevant campaigns and promotions.
What is the impact of celebrating Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year is a time of high consumer activity, with people buying gifts, decorations, and new clothes. It also influences travel and food trends of the season. Tapping into this festival can mean increased sales and a chance to build brand loyalty by respecting and understanding local culture and traditions.
Your Trusted Digital Marketing Partner In The Chinese Market!
Many global brands have seen digital marketing success during the Lunar New Year festivities. With the right strategy and understanding of its cultural significance, this holiday can generate positive traffic and potential sales for your brand.
At Sekkei Digital Group, we can help you dive deep into the intricacies of the Chinese consumer market. With our extensive expertise in this niche, we offer you the avenue to unlock your brand’s potential and secure a formidable position as a leading entity in the industry.
Whether it’s crafting compelling advertising campaigns, utilizing social media apps, or opening a virtual shop, we have the digital solutions you need. Contact us today, and let us help your brand navigate the intricacies of the Chinese business scene.
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