What Can Your Online Shop Do for the Chinese New Year?

The Chinese New Year (CNY) is approaching. As you probably already know, it is a very important holiday in China and throughout Asia. In today’s blog, we wanted to take a look at what your online shop can do to make the most out of this highly celebrated holiday.

Table of contents:

  1. What is the Chinese New Year?
  2. What does the Chinese New Year mean for your online shop?
  3. Popular industries for Chinese New Year shoppers
  4. Marketing ideas for the Chinese New Year

What is the Chinese New Year?

The Chinese New Year is a holiday that goes by many names. In China, it is called chunjie (春节), and is also referred to as the Spring Festival.

However, it’s worth noting that this holiday is important throughout much of Asia, not just China (more than 20% of the world population celebrates this holiday!).

In Vietnam, for instance, it is known as Tet Holiday, and in South Korea it is known as Seollal. Many others refer to it as the Lunar New Year

Every year is associated with an animal:

  • 2023 was the year of the rabbit.
  • 2024 is the year of the (wooden) dragon.
  • 2025 will be the year of the snake.

The Chinese New Year will take place on 10 February 2024. 

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It is also China’s longest holiday, at 15 days (but some consider the holiday season as long as 40 days, beginning in December with the Laba Festival).

A very big part of the Chinese New Year is that is a holiday for family members to reunite. Thus, it is responsible for the largest human migration in the world, with people travelling very long distances in order to get home for the holiday. 

chart of worlds largest migrations

Source: Statista

It is clearly a highly important holiday for a large global population. 

Although travelling to see family is done by the majority of participants, recent trends have shown that many people like to travel abroad during this holiday as well. 

In fact, before the coronavirus struck in early 2020, these were the travel predictions for the 7+ million Chinese international travellers (Europe is clearly a popular destination for Chinese travellers.):

chart: outbound chinese travel booking estimation in 2020

Source: Statista

What does the Chinese New Year mean for your online shop?

chinese new year 2024 dragons

Source: shutterstock.com/momo design

The Good

Although it might pale in comparison to Singles’ Day, the Chinese New Year is still a big deal throughout Asia (and for Asian communities around the world).

Looking specifically at the UK, Chinese shoppers were responsible for a 17% increase in completed transactions during the New Year in 2017. Consider all these numbers and it’s easy to see the potential for UK retailers to benefit from the annual celebration.  

The stereotypes of Chinese shoppers has also changed in recent years. With an increasing amount of disposable income, Chinese shoppers have come to appreciate high-quality, luxury products and top brands. Check out these stats from late 2019 regarding online consumption habits during the Spring Festival:

chart: influencing factors for chinese shoppers during spring festival

Source: Statista

Taking it a step further, we can also see that tastes for brand names are quite high as well. To be fair, "famous online brands" is the smallest piece of the pie (4.9%), but "well-known brands" is the highest (57.4%):

chart: brand preferences for chinese shoppers

Source: Statista

The Bad

If you’re a retailer whose suppliers are in China, then it’s worth noting that your supply chain might be affected by the holiday.

As mentioned earlier, the Chinese New Year is responsible for the largest human migration in the world. That means a lot of people have those days off, so don't expect to do business (with your partners) in China during this period.

If you’re a dropshipper, you might want to double-check with your suppliers to be aware of any delays in their processes. You may also want to stock up on some popular items beforehand.

Localise Your Online Shop for International Markets  What are the most important things to focus on?

Popular industries for Chinese New Year shoppers

Gift-giving is quite popular during the Chinese New Year, so almost every industry stands to benefit from the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival celebrations. However, some industries tend to perform exceptionally well. Businesses that operate in those industries might want to consider creating unique marketing campaigns to target those who are celebrating the Lunar New Year.

Let's look at some numbers here from January 2023:

chart: most popular Sping Festical gifts in China 2023

Source: Statista

As you can see, food and nutrition products dominate the top four positions (more on that below).

After that, you'll see more common products, including electronics, clothing, household products, toys and beauty products.

Food and nutrition industries

The chart above shows us how the food & beverage industry benefits from the Spring festival. The nutrition industry can also see increased sales during this time of year.  

According to Statista, France has the highest number of Chinese people in Europe with nearly 800,000 people (the UK has nearly 500,000). In France, Asian food product sales shoot up during the Chines New Year period seeing turnover numbers hit over €100 million.

chart: turnover of asian food products around Chinese new year period

Source: Statista

If we look at the traditions that make up the most common gifts

Travel industry

As mentioned before, travelling is a huge part of the Chinese New Year celebration. Although many people end up travelling home for the holiday, others actually go on holiday. 

However, remember that the holiday is celebrated in most of Asia, not just China. Therefore, you can target shoppers (or travellers) around the world. It could be a nice boost to businesses in the post-Christmas lull.

Marketing Ideas for the Chinese New Year

So, what can you do to reach out to this huge potential customer base? Here are a few ideas and examples of past campaigns.

Get in touch with the traditions

As you probably already know, Chinese people have strong traditions and value them immensely. Learn about what makes this holiday unique.

First and foremost, this holiday is about family. Tiger Beer created a campaign, "The Reunion Project",  based on the concept of reuniting families that hadn't seen each other for a few years. Through this project, people could nominate loved ones and potentially win them a trip home. (Warning: you might get teary-eyed here!)

thumbnail for tiger beer spring festival commercial

The Chinese New Year is also a holiday about travelling (remember the migration?). This is a huge characteristic of the holiday. McDonald’s created a campaign around a travelling Ronald McDonald doll coming home for the holiday.   

thumbnail of mcdonalds spring festival commercial

Another tradition associated with Chunjie is the gifts. A common gift is a red envelope with money inside. There’s definitely an opportunity to get creative with this idea as well.

 

traditional red envelop spring festival

Source: shutterstock/japansainlook

Another thing to keep in mind is that the new year is associated with an animal. In 2023, it is the year of the rabbit. You can sell products featuring this animal. Include those animals in your marketing campaigns, ads, and social media images!

In the example below from 2019, Lancôme used a cute pig in their ad as it was the year of the pig. 

thumbnail of lancome spring festival commercial

Provide valuable content

Naturally, such a holiday can be stressful (15 days with your family!). Making their life easier in any way is a good way to build a relationship with them. This can be tricky depending on what your company sells, but try to get creative. Have decoration tips? Recipes? Travel hacks? Gift ideas? Share them!

Recommended reading:
How to Create a Gift Guide That Will Inspire Your Customers

User-generated content

Getting people to interact with your content is always a good idea. If shoppers feel a connection with your brand, there’s a much stronger chance they’ll want to buy from you as well. Get shoppers engaged with social media.

For Trusted Shops' guide to Instagram ads, click on the banner below:

The Ultimate E‑commerce Guide to Instagram A complete guide to the most visual social platform

Short micro-video clips are a popular trend in China that Michael Kors used perfectly to engage with their audience. When they first entered the Chinese market, they created a hashtag challenge for users to create a “city catwalk” video where they “catwalk” in public places. Around 30,000 users engaged in this campaign.

Coca-Cola created a campaign for people to “nominate those who made them happy”. Users could create personalised internet memes to share on social media.

Of course, you don’t have to create software for users to create their own memes. Social media contests with a unique hashtag or inviting them to tag their friends for a giveaway or low budget alternatives to boost social engagement with your brand.

Conclusion

The Chinese New Year/Spring festival is an absolutely huge event in Asia and Asian communities around the world. Ignoring the sales opportunities of this period would be a mistake! Get started now in order to get the most out of one of the most important holidays in the world. Remember, the New Year falls on 10 February 2024.  

Many holidays are celebrated differently from country to country. Sometimes, they don't even fall on the same day. Make sure you download our marketing calendar that provides you with the biggest holiday sales opportunities in the biggest European markets:

Do you know the most important sales holidays in Europe? Get your 2024 & 2025 marketing calendar

05/12/23

Alon Eisenberg

Alon Eisenberg

Alon Eisenberg has been the Content Manager UK at Trusted Shops since 2017. He graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor's degree in Communications in 2004.

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