marketing chinese new year

3 Best Marketing Campaigns for Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is the most important celebration for Chinese people. On the 10th of February this year, families got reunited in their hometowns to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It marked the start of a week of official public holidays to enable people to travel to their home city and celebrate with their loved ones. And it’s also the start of unique and creative marketing campaigns for the Chinese New Year. Who were the great winners this year? What marketing campaigns stand out?

Key Takeaways:

  • This year’s zodiac animal is the Wood Dragon
  • This is a symbol of creativity, luck, and prosperity
  • Louis Vuitton installed 5 gigantic dragons in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu
  • Lancôme created an Arc de Triomphe with a dragon made of ice in Harbin
  • Loewe launched a collection of 5 jade pendants to celebrate China’s jade culture

Let’s dive in.

What is Chinese New Year?

The Chinese New Year is also named Spring Festival in China. It starts from the Beginning of Spring, on the 1st of the 24 terms in coordination with the changes of nature. In the solar calendar, Spring marks the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. Hence, the Spring Festival marks a new year on the lunar calendar and stands for a desire for a new life.

How Chinese People Celebrate Chinese New Year?

Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Year with firecrackers, fireworks, red clothes, and celebrations. They travel to meet their families for dinners and private moments. It’s similar to Christmas in the West. They will celebrate on the night before with a big dinner (like Christmas Eve) and then on New Year’s day (like Christmas).

how chinese celebrate new year

Traditionally, Chinese families cook a lot of food on New Year’s Eve to have enough food for the next week. In ancient times, Chinese people could not cook for the following days and had to enjoy the food prepared before. The traditional recipes include meat, fish, dumplings, soups, and seafood. They also offer gifts to each other or red envelopes with money for the new year’s fortune. Hence, brand activations including gifts and red envelopes are still viral in China.

Let’s see other ways you can market your brand for Chinese New Year.

How to Market Chinese New Year?

For Western brands, Chinese New Year remains an important key shopping festival (KSP). You can market your brand by proposing a specific assortment with gift boxes in red and gold. You can also implement marketing campaigns with the zodiac animal or the element to show respect to the Chinese culture.

This year, we’re celebrating the Wood Dragon.

Promote the Zodiac Animal: Dragon

Every year is linked with an animal from the Chinese zodiac. You can use the New Year’s animal to engage with Chinese consumers by paying attention to the values and symbols behind each animal.

There are 12 animals including the dragon, rat, dog, rabbit, etc. The legend says that a God organized a race between 12 different animals for his farewell. Depending on their order of arrival, they would receive a place of honor in the year. The first animal to win the race was the Rat. Hence, the Chinese year is always starting with the Rat. It’s followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

dragon chinese new year

The dragon is called “龙”, pronounced lóng in China. In Chinese culture, the Dragon holds a significant place as a positive and extraordinary creature. According to the Chinese zodiac, the Dragon symbolizes power, honor, art, imagination, spirituality, luck, and success. For many people, this new year of 2024 will be characterized by creativity and luck.

If you want to go further, you can also celebrate the element.

Promote the Element: Wood

If you’re not familiar with the Chinese element theory, each zodiac sign is linked to one of the five elements. The element theory is also named Wu Xing in Chinese or the Five Phases and is part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It is understood that the five elements balance energies in the body and contribute to personality traits.

The elements include Metal (Gold), Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth.

elements analysis china

The Wood Dragon is a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. This is the perfect year for a new beginning and changes in personal lives. It symbolizes evolution, abundance, and improvement. When you understand the specificity of this sign, it becomes more clear why brands that only display the zodiac animal with true meaning behind fail.

It’s not about the animal shape, it’s about its symbol.

And some brands understood it well.

Best Marketing Campaigns from Luxury and Fashion in China

I shared some marketing campaigns on my LinkedIn over the past weeks. I also summarized the best activations in my LinkedIn newsletter “History and Marketing Activations of Chinese New Year“. Because this year, we discovered among the best campaigns ever. They were creative, smart, and meaningful.

Let’s see them in details.

1. Louis Vuitton

The luxury brand installed 5 colossal dragons in its flagship stores in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu.

louis vuitton marketing chinese new year

Louis Vuitton revealed impressive dragons crafted individually by Chinese artisans. The 5 dragons are the symbol of this year’s zodiac sign but also a delicate reference to the design from Pharrell Williams’ pre-fall 2024 collection. When you look in detail, you can see the brand’s monogram and collection’s design. Furthermore, this impressive installation was launched simultaneously in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu.

The installation generated tons of engagement online and the immersive campaign will last from 1 to 3 months. Indeed, Chinese netizens commented on Little Red BookWhat a beautiful dragon, I like it even more after seeing the real thing in Shanghai” or even “This dragon is very Chinese“. The core consumers of Louis Vuitton loved the initiative and reinforced the positive brand sentiment in China.

2. Lancôme

The cosmetics brand created an East-West fusion dragon with the artist Jacky Tsai in Harbin.

lancome marketing chinese new year

Lancôme revealed its CNY campaign through a 3D animation video on Xiaohongshu before announcing the ice sculpture during the Ice Festival in Harbin. The design is far from our Western aesthetics, but it received a strong engagement from Chinese netizens receiving tons of views and reactions. The immersive video was an official announcement for both the limited edition gift box (in red and gold) and the ice sculpture (in Harbin).

The brand installation in Harbin went viral on social media. The packaging was praised by local consumers for respecting and enhancing the Chinese culture with a beautiful dragon and references to French culture. The exclusive ice sculpture for the Harbin Ice Festival attracted millions of local tourists. Chinese consumers were used to limited edition packaging from cosmetics brands, but it was the first time that a brand proposed such an O2O experience. In the meantime, Chinese influencers shared en masse the new limited edition.

3. Loewe

The luxury brand created a unique collection of 5 jade pendants designed by Chinese jade carvers.

loewe marketing chinese new year

Loewe collaborated with the artists Cheng Lei, Qiu Qijing, and Yin Xiaojin for the jade collection. It’s an ode to China’s ancient jade culture instead of the zodiac animal, bringing Chinese consumers together and reinforcing the brand’s positive sentiment. The delicate colors are a direct reference to the colors used in the new collection of Loewe Flamenco Mini clutch bags. The collection was available exclusively in Shanghai, Beijing, and Chengdu.

Chinese consumers loved this initiative. They praised and recognized the consistent efforts of Loewe in honoring Chinese traditions through recurring projects for local festivities. On Little Red Book, a consumer commented “Just looking at the shape and color of the bag, you can feel the concept of jade“. Another one commented, “Other brands that try Chinese-style products can follow this path and stop making these ugly things they usually do“.

This festival is always a moment charged with emotions and symbols.

A special moment in the year but also an incredible source of inspiration for more creative and meaningful campaigns.

A beautiful way to build the bridge between China and the West and learn more about this historical tradition.

Reverse Group, The Marketing Expert in China

Chinese New Year is always a key shopping festival in China, and you must be ready for it. In general, brands prepare 3 to 6 months in advance to release the most efficient CNY campaign. Working with a local expert is essential to catch the momentum and increase sales.

I created Reverse Group to make your development smoother, faster, and easier.  We understand, love, and support Western fashion and luxury brands in their marketing and sales development in China. Because we know this sector has its own specificities. Hope we’ll work together!

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