What are you doing to prepare your brand for the next Chinese New Year?
All around the world, people are preparing for the Chinese New Year, popularly known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival.
The occasion is celebrated in many countries including China, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and of course, Australia (among many others) mainly because of the large Chinese communities in these locations.
The date for the celebration changes each year because it follows the lunar calendar wherein the first day of the month begins during the new moon. Lunar New Year (農曆新年) marks the start of the festivities and this generally runs for 15 days. Each day has a special meaning and involves various activities to honour Chinese tradition depending on one's religion or beliefs.
Celebrations typically involve family gatherings, giving red envelopes with money inside (lucky money), fireworks displays, and watching the annual dragon or lion dance. Food is also a big part of the celebration, with dishes like dumplings, noodles, and sticky rice taking centre stage.
While there are many traditions associated with the Chinese New Year like family gatherings and eating specific foods, one of the most important aspects is the celebration itself.
For businesses, this is a great opportunity to promote their products and services to a massive audience. Like many other festive periods, is a time of high expenditure with Chinese consumers and global spending expected to hit billions of dollars collectively. Retail, food, luxury goods, tourism, and entertainment often get the biggest returns.
Chinese New Year is a time of celebration and prosperity, and what better way to ring in the new year than with some clever marketing ideas? Here are seven genius marketing hacks to help you promote your business during the next Lunar New Year.
#1 - Push for user-generated content
One of the best ways to generate interest in your brand during Chinese New Year involves encouraging user-generated content. This could involve asking customers to submit photos or videos of them celebrating the New Year in their own unique way, or a simple hashtag campaign where they can tag you.
To kick off their Lunar New Year brand activations, Coca Cola in 2013 launched the platform Coca Cola Circle, a digital platform for users to nominate people who brought them happiness. Users got the option to upload photos of their loved ones using templates with memes that can be personalised. It was so successful at the time the campaign received over 650,000 uploads.
#2 - Share heartwarming stories on social media
Stories of family, hope, and love always do well during the Chinese New Year period because they appeal to the emotions. Share heartwarming stories on your social media channels or website that will tug at the reader's heartstrings. This is a great way to create an emotional connection with your audience and make them feel good about your brand.
An example of a company that does this well is McDonald's. They often share LNY videos on social media containing themes about bringing people together. These stories are always warm and fuzzy, and help to create an emotional bond with customers. PepsiCo does the same; they had a CNY campaign about the Monkey King, a famous literary character who embodies traits of youthfulness and fun, while at the same time highlighting Chinese traditional core values such as loyalty and duty. The video they released as a short film on Youku (China's YouTube) garnered over 40 million views in 2016.
#3 - Offer exciting discounts and promotions
A few years ago, Burberry launched a CNY UGC campaign on WeChat wherein users were asked to "shake" their phones to win prizes and get discounts. How did it work? First, users were asked to scan a QR code on the luxury brand's page. Then, users were to open a cylinder-shaped "gift" -- a graphic with a message inside, which can be customised to send greetings to family in friends, and a virtual scarf from the product line, plus a link to the special deal.
This campaign stood out and received accolades in the advertising industry because it was fun and interactive. Similar campaigns surrounding prizes and vouchers are a great way to draw in customers, and what better time to offer them than during Chinese New Year?
#4 - Engage in corporate social responsibility activities
Another way to show your audience that you care about them is to engage in volunteer work and similar social initiatives during the Chinese New Year period. This could involve donating money or goods to a charity, or organising volunteer activities for staff. You can then share these on social media, your website, or even better, on live videos, to show that your brand is more than just a business, but also has a social conscience.
#5 - Fill your feed with red and gold
One of the easiest and most effective ways to get in the spirit of Chinese New Year is to deck your social media feed and website in red and gold. Red is the colour of fire, fortune, and happiness mainly used for Chinese celebrations while gold denotes prosperity. Share festive-themed content to help set the tone for your Lunar New Year marketing campaign. You can also use images of traditional celebratory symbols such as the lion dance, the Chinese zodiac, paper lanterns, or red money envelopes (known as hong bao in Mandarin).
Another way to do this is to partner up with other brands that are also running Chinese New Year marketing campaigns. This will help amplify your reach and get your campaign in front of more people.
#6 - Showcase how your team celebrates Chinese New Year
One way to connect with your target audience on a personal level is to show them how Chinese New Year celebrations are done in your company. This could involve sharing in-the-moment footage of staff members preparing traditional food, decorating the office, or taking part in festive activities such as lion dances or playing mahjong. It's a great way to give people a glimpse into your company culture and help them feel like they're a part of it.
You can also do this by sharing Chinese New Year greetings from your team members. This is a simple way to show that you are an authentic business that treats its own staff as important. If you care about your people this much, you also probably care about customers at the same level if not more.
#7 - Deliver useful content to your audience
Content like recipes, blogs, tutorials, and tips are a great way to get your audience in the mood for the Chinese New Year. They're also a great way to show that your brand is knowledgeable and helpful, and that you want to give something valuable to your customers without asking for anything in return. This type of content can be especially useful if you run an online store or if you sell products related to Chinese New Year.
For example, you want to run a series of Lunar New Year campaigns with videos that involve teaching people how to say "Happy Chinese New Year" in Mandarin. You can tap creative talent from theright.fit, which has a strong pool of popular Chinese influencers (both locally and abroad), able to create new content for non-Mandarin or Cantonese speakers. Here are just a few of them: Melbourne-based Crystal (27K Instagram following), Sydney-based Jenny L (52K Instagram following), Sydney-based Alisha (42K Instagram following), and Sydney-based Mathew (16K Instagram following).
BONUS TIP: Release limited edition items
One of the best ways to create excitement and generate buzz around Chinese New Year marketing campaigns is to release limited edition items or packaging. This could involve special editions of your existing products or exclusive new products that are only available during the Lunar New Year period. You can then tease these products on social media and in your advertising, and make them available for purchase on your website or in your store.
A great example is when Maybelline launched a limited-edition mahjong set to celebrate Chinese New Year 2020 on RED, which was supported by a social media competition. The campaign generated over 1,300 engagements and eight participants went on to receive the exclusive mahjong set as their Lunar New Year gift.
How to create useful content through partnerships
Language and cultural differences are two of the biggest concerns non-Chinese brands have about LNY. But consider this: the Chinese are also heavy social media users are some of the most active social media consumers in the world. And this is why brands should choose to partner with Chinese influencers or those with a relevant Chinese audience and cultural understanding during the Chinese New Year.
Creating a memorable and engaging campaign is essential for any business looking to connect with this key market segment. By following the seven Chinese New Year marketing ideas above, you'll be well on your way to success!