Dragon Boat Festival in China

The Importance of Dragon Boat Festival in China [Full Guide]

Last Updated on June 11, 2024

Like other Chinese holidays, the Dragon Boat Festival holds immense cultural significance in China. With the usage of social and e-commerce channels already widespread in the country, it’s a chance for marketers to resonate with local online consumers.

In this post, we will take you through the cultural significance, customs, and marketing strategies associated with the Dragon Boat Festival in China.


What is the Dragon Boat Festival in China?

The Dragon Boat Festival or Duanwu Festival (端午节) is a traditional annual event in China typically celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. On the Gregorian Calendar, the holiday falls between May and June.

With over 2000 years of history, the Dragon Boat Festival merged from multiple origins. Some say it symbolizes the worship of the river dragon, while others refer to the event as the commemoration of the life of a political figure, Qu Yuan.


Locals celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival in China

Locals celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival in China (Source: China Daily)


The celebrations and traditions during the festival may vary per region. However, the most common sight during the event is the dragon boat racing. It also includes traditional memorial ceremonies, so different food and beverages are highly consummated.

If you scan China’s social media landscape, you’ll notice that locals also use this holiday to take domestic and international vacation trips. Brands also release discounts and exclusive promotions to trigger consumer spending and tap into the local gift-giving culture.


Consumption Trends During Dragon Boat Festival in China

As an event-centered holiday, the Dragon Boat Festival initially suffered in popularity during the pandemic. However, it quickly snatched its footing back last year. Here are some positive outlooks and trends from last year’s festivities:


  • Tourism revenue hiked up to $5.2 billion during the festival
  • Popular outbound retail travel destinations include Thailand, Japan, Hongkong, and Singapore
  • Summer-related and cooling products grew in demand by 5-7 times
  • Purchases related to jewelry and sporting equipment rose up to 3.6%


Consumption trends during the 2023 Dragon Boat festival


Why Is The Dragon Boat Festival Important For Foreign Brands in China?


●     Cultural Significance and Emotional Connection

The Dragon Boat Festival is of immense cultural significance in China, making it a prime opportunity for brands to establish meaningful connections with Chinese consumers.

This festival has deep-rooted traditions and customs that have been celebrated for centuries, creating a sense of nostalgia and emotional resonance among the Chinese population.

By aligning with the Dragon Boat Festival, foreign brands can tap into this cultural heritage and forge a genuine bond with their target audience.


●     Amplifying Brand Authenticity and Trust

Participating in the Dragon Boat Festival allows brands to demonstrate their cultural sensitivity and understanding of Chinese traditions.

By embracing the festival and incorporating its themes and values into their digital marketing strategies, brands can showcase their authenticity and build trust with Chinese consumers.

This authenticity resonates with consumers who appreciate brands that go beyond mere marketing tactics and genuinely embrace and respect the local culture.


Example of Dragon Boat Festival posters designed for our clients

Example of Dragon Boat Festival posters designed for our clients


●     Capitalizing on Festive Excitement and Consumer Behavior

The Dragon Boat Festival is a time of heightened consumer excitement and purchasing behavior in China. During this festival, people actively seek unique products and experiences that enhance their celebration and enjoyment.

By leveraging the festival, brands can tap into this festive spirit and capture the attention of consumers actively looking to engage with brands and make purchases. This presents a prime opportunity to increase brand visibility, drive sales, and generate buzz around products and services.


●     Showcasing Brand Values and Community Support

As you know, the Dragon Boat Festival is renowned for its dragon boat races. These traditions symbolize teamwork, unity, and community spirit. Foreign brands can take this opportunity to showcase their commitment to collaboration and community support.

For example, they can sponsor or participate in dragon boat races or show support for local teams. These strategies allow brands to demonstrate their dedication to social causes, promote team spirit, and foster a positive brand image.

Such initiatives resonate with consumers who appreciate brands that actively contribute to the community’s well-being.



How to Leverage the Dragon Boat Festival for Brand Promotions in China


1.    Storytelling through User-Generated Content

Encourage your audience to share their Dragon Boat Festival experiences, memories, and traditions on social media. By prompting consumers to post about their personal experiences, you not only engage your audience but also utilize the power of user-generated content, significantly influencing brand perception.

Marketers can host a hashtag campaign where users can share their festival stories and tag your brand. This strategy not only builds a sense of community but also highlights your brand’s resonance with China’s cherished cultural traditions.


Dragon boat festival user-generated contents Xiaohongshu

User-generated contents on Xiaohongshu for the Dragon Boat Festival


2.    Collaborating with Influencers

Partnering with well-known KOLs or KOCs who resonate with the festival’s spirit can significantly expand your brand’s reach and engagement. Choose influencers who are respected for their connection to the Dragon Boat Festival and collaborate with them to produce genuine and engaging content.

This collaboration could include festival-themed posts, live-streaming events, or collaborative videos that feature your products. These influencers can effectively communicate the festival’s cultural significance while seamlessly integrating your brand into their content, enhancing its appeal and credibility.


3.    Festive-Themed Product Offerings

Develop and market special edition or limited-time products inspired by the Dragon Boat Festival. Integrate design elements such as dragon boat motifs, traditional patterns, or flavors associated with the festival. These exclusive products can create excitement and a sense of urgency among consumers.

One of the best examples of this strategy is Starbucks China’s Dragon Boat Festival campaign, which introduces different rice dumpling flavors yearly to celebrate the event. Through this limited-edition promotion, the brand can resonate with the traditional preferences of Chinese consumers while offering them new experiences during the annual event.


Starbucks activities for the Dragon Boat Festival

Starbucks activities for the Dragon Boat Festival


4.    Finding the right Platforms and Channels to Promote

To effectively leverage this festival, it’s essential to identify the right platforms and channels for promotion. Social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo are highly popular in China and can serve as powerful tools for brand engagement.

These platforms allow for targeted advertising and interactive campaigns that can capture the attention of a broad audience during high-engagement events like the Dragon Boat Festival.

In addition to social media, leveraging e-commerce platforms such as Tmall and JD.com can boost visibility and sales. These channels often feature special promotions, deals, and themed events to commemorate the festival, which are the primary drivers of engagement and sales among Chinese online shoppers.


Quick Q&A

How long does the Dragon Boat Festival last in China?

The Dragon Boat Festival usually lasts three days in China. In 2024, the annual holiday will be celebrated from June 8 to 10. Since it’s based on the lunar calendar, it doesn’t always fall on the same day as previous years.


Your Trusted Digital Marketing Partner in the Chinese Market!

The Dragon Boat Festival may not be as e-commerce-centric as other events like Singles’ Day or Qixi Festival, but it’s an opportunity to connect with the local market. Participating in its traditional activities and trends can build a positive and familiar image for your brand.


You may also want to read:

China's top festivals for Marketing 2023


At Sekkei Digital Group, our team can help you create a digital marketing campaign that resonates with your target audience’s preferences. We also have extensive industry experience assisting brands in gaining a formidable position in China’s complex digital ecosystem.


Sekkei Digital Group Services


Whether you’re launching an advertising campaign or opening an e-commerce store in China, we have all the solutions you need. Don’t hesitate to contact us for any collaboration or service inquiries.


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