Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy

‘Tap’ the ‘App’ Generation: New Ways to use Chinese New Year in Your Social Media Marketing

Posted by Vanessa Vachet | 02.09.15


People are using new way to celebrate Chinese New Year, including sharing photos on Social Media

People are using new way to celebrate Chinese New Year, including sharing photos on Social Media

You’ve read the First Installment in our Chinese New Year Marketing Series… 

So now you know what Chinese people are likely to buy during Chinese New Year.


Did you also know?


  • As of July this year, China had 632 million mobile internet users, more than double the entire population of the USA! And it’s still growing at a rate of 14 million new users each year!


  • During Chinese New Year (CNY), many people travel home to be with their families, or they go abroad. Chinese smartphone users are looking for ways to alleviate the boredom of long journeys by using their smartphones to download Apps. The highest number of app downloads took place before the Chinese New Year holiday period, with a 51.6 % increase in ad clicking.


  • Many big companies have employed social media marketing in their Chinese New Year campaigns and to great effect. We will list some examples that have proven very successful in previous years.



The Many Faces of Social Media

The Many Faces of Social Media

Before you go ahead and start your Online Campaign, Remember the Golden Rules for Social Media Marketing:


–          RULE #1: Create great content. Give your followers something they are going to love and want to pass onto their friends. Whether you create your own content or source it elsewhere, through shared articles or photos, ensure that what you post is relevant to your audience. Make sure it’s valuable and meaningful and they will keep coming back.


–          RULE #2: Be Generous. Your top priority in consumer engagement is to capture an audience’s attention and get them interacting with you. Good ways to do this is to host a contest or giveaway. The prize doesn’t have to be huge, you could just offer a few discount vouchers. But consumers do love a contest, so it’s a great way to spread brand awareness and could even result in direct sales!


–          RULE #3: Create a platform for followers. If you build it, they will come! One of the simplest ways to tie in with any event or celebration, such as CNY, is to encourage your followers to post their thoughts and to share good will messages. You could even offer an incentive for participation such as the chance to go into a free draw.


How do I use these rules to market during CNY? 

How do you employ Social Media to market your business during CNY?

How do you employ Social Media to market your business during CNY?



There is another rule in play, when looking at this particular celebration:


Research by TNS Global has shown that in order for Chinese New Year marketing campaigns to be successful they must connect with consumers positively on an emotional level and must have a central theme that is tied closely with the principles of Chinese New Year.


What exactly does that mean?



Keep in mind the Traditions and Themes of CNY when developing your Marketing Strategy

Keep in mind the Traditions and Themes of CNY when developing your Marketing Strategy

It means your marketing campaign should be centered on the gathering of family and must leave the consumer with a positive feeling when remembering your ad.


How do I achieve this effect?

Think about your marketing strategy: 

You could:


Use Facebook or any other Social Media to leverage important cultural observations: 

Use Facebook to Promote your Business

Use Facebook to Promote your Business



  1. Create stories that focuses on “festive highlights” and release them over the CNY period at the right time. You could: Include original stories and explanations of certain CNY traditions such as the Lion Dance, Spring Cleaning and the use of gold and red in decorations. See our previous article to understand what these customs are. Keep in Mind: It’s easy to assume that most Asian consumers know these stories by heart. But, many children of Asian descent are born abroad or come from second, third or fourth generations living outside of China. They might not be familiar with all of these traditions and they may even have an interest in getting to know their own culture.


  1. Use content that features images of key activities, such as families gathering over a meal, traveling back home for the holidays or decorating their houses for CNY and associate it with your brand.


  1. Roll out fun promotional activities, such as contests. British Airways launched the airline’s first ‘WeChat’ campaign last year (WeChat is a social networking app featuring shared streaming content feeds and location-based social plug-ins to chat with other users, including brands). To celebrate CNY with their social media followers, British Airways developed a festive campaign, reminiscent of the golden ticket giveaway in the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” British Airways delivered custom-made red envelopes to the doorsteps of the first 2014 followers of its official WeChat account. Inside each red envelope was a new year greeting from the regional CEO Tracy Dedman and a promotional coupon worth 300 RMB (50 USD). Three exceptionally lucky, randomly selected followers also won roundtrip airfare between China and London. To capitalize on the upcoming Year of the Sheep, you could also invite followers to design their own ‘Year of the Sheep’ logos or share recipes online, traditional or otherwise.


  1. Encourage social sharing by launching a branded #hashtag campaign, such as #CNY or #YearoftheSheep, and give discounts to those who share it with their friends on Instagram or Facebook. Cosmetic brands could even sponsor popular makeup bloggers to do an online makeup tutorial using their latest products. This could be posted on YouTube, via Facebook and Twitter, and they could invite fans to share their own CNY looks! Combine that with a special discount offer for ‘sharing’ your photos and you may have customers rushing to your store!


Using Smartphones and Apps for CNY:

Use Apps to spread your CNY message or Advertising Campaigns

Use Apps to spread your CNY message or Advertising Campaigns



  1. Many consumers are addicted to their cell phones (See this Infographic on China’s Cell Phone Use from Intel Free Press) especially around CNY. Studies have shown that a sizable 40% of those in the 25-34 age group are the most active on Facebook during Chinese New Year. They are followed closely by those in the 35-44 age group, followed by 18-24. Asian consumers are also looking for ways to kill time while traveling. One way to use this to your advantage is to introduce a “check-in” discount and instant-win deals for them. There are apps that use GPS to geo-target customers. Then, nearby businesses are highlighted on a map and deals are populated on their mobile device screen. Once at the outlet location, a customer clicks ‘redeem’ and the offer is honoured by the business. It can be a great way to advertise your brand, but also to lure new customers in who may be looking for Chinese New Year services or products in new or foreign locations.


  1. Use unique and interactive Apps to promote your business during CNY. The number one instant messenger app in China, WeChat, introduced a new service which made ‘hongbaos’ or red envelopes, digital. App users could send a digital red envelope to their contacts and it proved very popular, with five million people sending out 20 million cyber hongbaos in the first two days of Chinese New Year (source: Mercis).


  1. Create video content that consumers can view on their smartphones through YouTube or Facebook. For example, Malaysian BBQ meat company Wing Heong, created special interactive YouTube videos that follow a story where a Yok Man (translated as meat man) fights in food wars against warlords. Viewers were able to take part by pausing, lowering the volume and rewinding the video to move further into the story and help the Yok Man win his fight. The videos garnered more than 800,000 views and tens of thousands of likes and shares!


Send an Online Greeting to Customers or Contacts

Send an Online Greeting to Customers or Contacts


Last, but not least, keep it simple with a fond customer greeting delivered through Social Media:


  1. Festive greetings sent through online sources, such as Facebook, are a common habit nowadays and companies have also jumped on board. It’s not uncommon for a business to send a corporate ‘greeting card’ or poster to their customer base. This can be done via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and WhatsApp. Everybody appreciates a kind message and if done sincerely, and not in a cheesy or ‘gimmicky’ way, the response will often be favourable. Design a beautiful graphic as a greeting card and make sure to include your company logo or brand, and maybe even a special promotion, but keep it tasteful and not too heavy-handed.


  1. Greet as many of your Facebook followers on social media as you possibly can. Customize your greetings, but if you can’t, a generic greeting is still good.




An example of a Red Envelope (Hong Bao) used by a company to promote its Brand

An example of a Red Envelope (Hong Bao) used by a company to promote its Brand

By aligning your brand with this special occasion and capturing some of the spirit and emotion that go along with it, your brand will go a long way in differentiating itself from its competitors, as well as creating unique connections with your target audience.


Of course, before you embark on any marketing for Chinese New Year, make sure to analyze your target audience and ensure that their values and ideals are a fit for the campaign.

Multicultural Marketing can reach Global audiences- so don't reserve it for Just One Day- Use it All Year Long!

Multicultural Marketing can reach Global audiences- so don’t reserve it for Just One Day- Use it All Year Long!




But, don’t just seek visibility during the Chinese New Year period. Rather, use Asian-focused marketing campaigns year-round, with dedicated multicultural programs that seek to drive brand usage and loyalty with Asian consumers. From airlines to retail, to food and beverage brands, it’s time to tap into this growing market. Don’t let your business lag behind or you could lose out on a wide range of new and eager customers!



For additional reading, check out the full Forbes report on Marketing to the New Chinese Consumer –great insight into the challenges, benefits, and enormous potential of marketing to this growing market.




(Images courtesy of Flickr- Creative Commons: From Top to Bottom: Mr.TinDC, thomas lapperre, IQRemix, Adrian Lim, reynermedia, Office de tourisme, Paul Hudson, michael davis-burchat; 2015 greeting card courtesy of China Highlights)