Marketing for Chinese Lunar New Year: Remember These Shopping Habits

Chinese New Year Marketing
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When it comes to sales, the Lunar New Year is the most important time in the Chinese calendar. Also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, this holiday marks the start of a new moon and is the most significant celebration of the year. It’s usually known as a lucky time for Chinese people, but eCommerce businesses can really prosper too if they get their marketing right.
Chinese consumers spent more than 926 billion yuan ($146 billion US dollars) during the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays in 2018. That’s a whole lot more than the total sales produced during the shopping-heavy Thanksgiving weekend in the US. Chinese shoppers spend big during Lunar New Year, so it’s an important time for both brick-and-mortar and eCommerce business owners. Chinese New Year begins on February 5th in 2019 and your business needs to get prepared.
If you want your eCommerce business to do well during Chinese New Year, you need to know about Chinese shopping habits and market your online business the right way. Let’s start with the lowdown on Chinese shopping habits during the Lunar New Year:

1 – Lunar New Year is a big time for gift buying

Gift giving is a traditional part of the Lunar New Year. Red envelopes full of money (known as “hongbao” in Mandarin) are traditionally presented by married people to unmarried ones, or often from older people to younger friends, family, and acquaintances. It’s also common to give material gifts, so Chinese New Year always leads to a jump in retail sales as people scramble to buy presents for their loved ones.

2 – Online shopping tends to dominate

Chinese commerce really takes place online. Chinese consumers are huge fans of online shopping and eCommerce is highly popular in the country, especially around the Lunar New Year. Apps and social media platforms like WeChat make it easy to buy and send Chinese New Year gifts online – in fact, WeChat even introduced an e-hongbao option in 2014! Online sales in China surpassed 7 trillion yuan ($1.15 trillion US dollars) in 2017 and online sales tend to peak around Lunar New Year and Singles Day. If you’re an eCommerce business owner, this is a vitally important time to concentrate your marketing efforts on Chinese and other East Asian consumers.

3 – Clothes and household appliances are popular purchases

Almost 30% of Chinese consumers buy clothes and accessories during the Lunar New Year holidays. This is no surprise, given that this is always a popular sector and carries an extra importance during this festival. Most Chinese people traditionally clean their homes before the Chinese New Year, which commonly comes along with an increase in clothes shopping (or as the saying goes, “New year, new clothes.”). These sales extend beyond clothes into household appliances too. In 2016, the payment processor UnionPay reported that department stores, supermarkets, and stores selling household appliances accounted for a huge chunk of total sales during this period.

4 – Travel spending is common during Spring Festival too

The Lunar New Year is a common time for travel with many Chinese travelers flooding to countries like Thailand, Japan, and the US. Chinese international tourists spend around a quarter of their income per year on travel and they don’t skimp when it comes to style and comfort. The direct travel sector and travel-related accessories tend to benefit from increased tourism around this time of year, with knock-on effects for sectors like food, fashion, and health and beauty, as Chinese tourists pack their suitcases with home comforts before jetting off.
So now you know about Chinese Lunar New Year shopping habits, lets take a look at how you should market your eCommerce business for Chinese New Year.

Here are 5 actionable tips on getting the most out of Chinese New Year sales:

1 – Tap into the strong emotions that surround Chinese New Year

The Lunar New Year is an emotionally powerful time for Chinese people. It is associated with prosperity, with family and loved ones, and you should tap into these feelings in your marketing. After all, a 2016 Nielsen study found that advertising which brought about a higher than average emotional response generated a 23% increase in sales. If you want to capture consumers, use stories and China-relevant content to emotionally engage your audience at this important time of year.

2 – Focus on your customers’ lifestyles

Chinese consumers prefer businesses which connect meaningfully with their lifestyles. Find out about your target audience and what they might be doing at this time of the year – for example, families will tend to travel together and young people are likely to receive hongbao. Make sure that your content is relevant and relatable to Chinese consumers in your target demographic who will be getting ready to spend for the Lunar New Year.

3 – Involve the year’s Chinese zodiac animal

Each year in the Chinese calendar is associated with one of twelve zodiac animals. 2019 is the year of the pig, so consider including pig imagery or characteristics of the pig in your marketing campaigns. This can seem inauthentic if you ignore the specific associations that Chinese consumers will have for these animals, so make sure to find out how they are viewed in the Chinese zodiac if you’re going to focus on an animal’s characteristics. Pigs are seen as lucky, enthusiastic, and easy to love in the Chinese zodiac, so bear that in mind when including them in your marketing.

4 – Make sure your marketing spreads on Chinese social media

Chinese consumers take recommendations seriously, especially when it comes to eCommerce. If you can encourage Chinese social media users to engage with your product online and share your content, your sales will likely skyrocket around the Lunar New Year. Focus on creating highly shareable content to promote your eCommerce business and distribute it well on Chinese social media in the run up to the holiday. This is a surefire way to bring in new customers during this big spending period.

5 – Don’t stop marketing after the holiday ends

Those red envelopes full of cash mean that most Chinese consumers end up with a chunk of extra money to spend after the Lunar New Year. Don’t slow down your marketing efforts as soon as the holiday is over. This is a great time to introduce sales on your eCommerce site and continue advertising so you can benefit from the post-Lunar New Year spending.

In conclusion:

Chinese Lunar New Year is a vital time for businesses selling in China. There can be huge gains for eCommerce businesses who market themselves effectively for Chinese New Year, as Chinese consumers rapidly buy gifts, clothes, household appliances, food, and just about everything else online. If you can effectively market your products to Chinese consumers and ensure efficient deliveries, the Lunar New Year can be lucky for you too.
Want some more marketing tips? Read our post on What Chinese Consumers Expect from eCommerce.
Not sure what to sell to China? Read our post on Top 10 Foreign Products Trending Among Chinese Consumers

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