2017 Chinese New Year Trends

Beginning on the 16th February 2018, Chinese New Year (or otherwise known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival) is the major national holiday in Greater China. The festival begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar and is celebrated across the globe by regions with a substantial Chinese population.

Traditionally, Chinese New Year is a time to be spent with family and reflect on the previous year. Gifts are exchanged between family and friends including, tea, lanterns, fruit baskets, sweets and the Hongbao – an elaborately decorated red envelope filled with money.

Whilst the festival is not a retail focused event, it comes at a time when annual bonuses have been paid and people are inclined to spoil family and friends with gifts. In recent years, there has been a shift in consumer behaviour and Chinese shoppers have been looking to luxury goods to fulfil their shopping needs. This has led to the event fast becoming a new marketing opportunity for UK retailers due given our large Chinese community, their huge purchasing power and increasing desire for British goods. Data from our global network has shown a 38% year-on-year increase in orders for advertisers internationally during the core three day period of Chinese New Year.

In addition, eMarketer has highlighted five learnings from Chinese New Year 2017:

  • Retail sales increased 11.4% from Lunar New Year 2016 to 2017, with consumer electronics, home appliances, jewellery, dining and travel experiencing the strongest growth.
  • In 2017, 54% of all Lunar New Year spend took place online, a 48% YoY increase. Further to this, food and beverages, apparel, fresh food, cosmetics and consumer electronics were the top five categories purchased online during the festival.
  • It has been reported that 344 million domestic tourist trips were made during the 2017 Lunar New Year festival, a 13.8% YoY increase. In addition to this, tourism spend increased 15.9% YoY.
  • Asia is a mobile-first market, an AdMaster survey revealed that respondents spend an average of 4.17 hours on their smartphones during Lunar New Year, with 2.3 hours being spent on PCs.
  • In 2017, there were 14.2 billion digital red envelopes, or HongBao, sent via WeChat users on Lunar New Year’s Eve alone, this a 75.7% YoY increase. In total, 46 billion hongbao were sent via WeChat in 2017, with Alipay reporting 168 million users having completed a hongbao promotion.

With these trends in mind, below we explore how advertisers can tap into the ecommerce opportunities surrounding the event:

Non-retail verticals are growing fastest

Chinese New Year is an important time to be spent with family and friends. As such, travel is the highest converting vertical during the festival. 2017 international figures show a 17% bump in completed transactions during Chinese New Year alongside a 37% increase in traffic in the travel vertical.

Delving specifically into the UK market, a popular tourist destination for Chinese shoppers, orders through the domestic affiliate network of cameras and photography grew by 19% year-on-year, while the health and wellness vertical benefitted from a staggering 83% increase. This suggests the focus on family and friends during Chinese New Year is increasingly about visiting and treating each other with experiences.

The importance of the colour red:

In Chinese culture, the colour red represents fires and symbolises luck, happiness and joy. This provides an opportunity to promote red products or create red edits with items such as accessories or handbags for retailers wanting to reach consumers during this period. You can also look to incorporate this theme into your customer experience – perhaps by offering a free red gift or changing the colour of your packaging to red.

Take into account the differences between Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year

Although Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, and Spring Festival are all referring to the same thing – there are some cultural differences across regions.  Lunar New Year is observed by other Asian countries who are not of Chinese descent, but would traditionally follow the regional ‘old Chinese lunar calendar’. Korean and Japanese people more often than not, don’t align themselves with Chinese events and prefer to refer to the festival as Lunar New Year – therefore, it’s more favourable to refer to it as lunar in those regions. In these regions, red does not have the same meaning but actually connotes passion, love or intimacy.

If you’d like to find out more about Chinese New Year and working across the APAC region, please do contact your Account Manager or our client development team on rm-sales@rakuten.com