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Chinese New Year in the digital era

February 16th marks the beginning of Chinese New Year celebrations. To celebrate this year of the dog, Chinese people are enjoying a few weeks of holidays. Almost 70 million people are going to be on roads, trains or plane, for what is considered the biggest annual migration in the world. Chinese New Year is also an important period for big brands willing to show their interest in Chinese culture. They also often launch new collections, for people to buy as gifts.

Every year, many brands are mocked and criticized by internet users, who judge their advertising campaigns for the New Year very cliché or offensive. What digital strategies should you use to get closer and win the loyalty of Chinese consumers?

When hongbao 红包 became virtual

Before the development of technologies, hongbao, literally meaning red envelope, were used to give money to friends or family members, to celebrate the New Year. Today, as Chinese society relies less and less on cash money, mobile payment apps are flourishing and the money giving tradition has now its place in the digital world. During the Chinese New Year 2017, more than 14 million hongbao were exchanged on WeChat, 75% more than during the same period on 2016.

For this year of the dog, WeChat launch the Spring Festival Shake 新春摇摇乐. It allows users to win a hongbao of 200RMB or a red envelope to a free product, in shops where WeChat Pay is available. From February 14th to 20th, the online strategy has profits on the offline environment.

Also, the mobile payment platform Alipay partnered with Coca-Cola: By scanning a QR code on any Coca-Cola products, users can see an animation in augmented reality, on the Alipay app. Similar to Pokemon Go, two cartoon characters – used by the brand these last few years – appear with the real environment as a background, through the smartphone camera lens. Users then receive a virtual red envelope, from 1 to 15,50$. The interesting thing is that this hongbao can be used to pay whatever product on Alipay, not only the Coca-Cola ones.

All the ingredients are here to make this ad attractive: QR Code, augmented reality and hongbao. Two weeks after its launch, it has already been seen by more than 6,6 million people, among the 520 millions users of Alipay.

The luxury sector goes the extra mile

As for the luxury industry, the Chinese New Year is the occasion to customize some products. It can be a sensitive task since some brands have been criticized by net users for their simplistic view towards Chinese culture.

Two trends can be seen: For example, Dior chose an elegant and simple style, without promoting any products ; on the other hand, Louis Vuitton used an animated dog to showcase its new products. Stickers can also be used in the messaging section of WeChat. The common detail of these campaign is the red color, symbol of happiness and luck.












For fashion brands, the aim is to spread the values attached to their name, and not lacking style or knowledge of the country’s culture. This is therefore important to know the key targets and what they expect from the brand. Knowledge of the changes in the society is also crucial. Today, China’s development is booming, and consumers don’t want their country to be seen as the land of dragons and pandas. And so, in a digital advertisement campaign to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the key word is “detail”. Even though astrological signs can be shown, it is better to have modernity mingled with a touch of tradition, since social media make this possible.