How can brands capitalise on Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the lunar calendar, and in 2020 it falls on January 25th. Whilst Christmas is often perceived as the biggest event in most holiday calendars, last year alone consumers spent £126 billion during the week of Chinese New Year.

In this article, we’ll explore key insights and traditions around Chinese New Year, and how you can maximise your seasonal campaigns.

What is Chinese New Year?

Across East-Asian countries, Chinese New Year is a major public holiday and is considered one of the biggest events in the year. It is therefore very common for people to be off work and celebrating with their family.  In the lead-up to Chinese New Year, Chinese communities across the globe get ready for the celebrations, much like how western markets prepare for Christmas.

Red is considered the traditional colour of Chinese New year, and most people will decorate their homes with red decorations, include an element of red within their new year outfit and most importantly, gift money to their friends and family within red envelopes. Whilst traditionally it was customary to use real red envelopes for gifting, more recently many have adopted to using digital red envelopes via platforms including WeChat and Alipay.

Another important tradition upheld by the Chinese population is to bring in the new year with everything new. People will often purchase new clothes, bags and accessories in order to put their best foot forward into the new year.

Traditionally, part of Chinese New Year celebrations includes the giving of gifts to friends and family, and whilst traditionally this was mostly food or drink items, more recently, consumers have expanded towards non-traditional gifts. Therefore in the lead up the new year celebrations, you can expect spending to vastly increase across fashion, beauty and electronic gifts too.

Consumer behaviours

Alongside traditions, there are specific consumer behaviours to take note of during Chinese New Year, including:


Travel is a key theme in recent years, with an increasing number of people travelling to their hometown so they can celebrate the holiday with their family. A study conducted by Tencent and Jeep in 2019 found that 68.7% of people take the opportunity to travel with their family over the long period of the national holiday.


China is predominantly a mobile-dominated market, and therefore it’s important to take note that activity on mobile within China is at it’s highest during Chinese New Year. According to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, nationwide mobile usage during Chinese New Year in 2019 grew by 130%, in comparison to the previous year.

Therefore, it’s advisable to consider how you can adapt your campaigns to make them mobile-friendly, using the relevant targetting capabilities to take advantage of mobile users during the new year period – particular thought should also be given to how you can appeal to the younger generation.

Advertising for Chinese New Year

In the last few years, the number of western brands focussing their marketing efforts on Chinese New Year has rapidly increased, with many more expected to follow suit in 2020. With more brands hoping to grab a piece of the pie, how can you ensure your campaigns can go the distance?

Here are some tips you can use to kickstart your campaigns and examples of brands who have executed their campaigns successfully.

Connect to your audiences with micro-moments

Chinese consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, so it’s no longer enough to just directly translate your advertisements and include elements of red within creative, to drive conversions. Brands that are successfully executing Chinese New Year campaigns are those that take the time to dig deep into the history and significance of the occasion, identifying what it means for different segments of the audience in China.


Nike’s 90-second Lunar New Year advert depicts a cat-and-mouse exchange between an aunt and her niece, where the aunt is attempting to gift her niece with an envelope which she continues to politely decline.

Given that this is a common tradition that families across China would play out, Nike’s advert has cleverly understood the cultural nuances of the Chinese market in order to evoke an empathetic reaction from its target audience. Above all, the advert has also managed to stay tightly connected to the brand and its product.

Go the extra mile

Often, individual or societal issues can become more apparent during periods of heightened emotion and familial gatherings. Therefore, looking into the challenges and issues faced by members of Chinese society, is a unique way of creating more targetted advertising that truly resonates with its audience.


In this advert, SK-II touches on the pressures single women in China face towards marriage. The brand has identified that its target audience is single women in China who are financially independent, and in doing so, they have understood that a societal challenge they face is pressure towards getting married at a certain age.

By understanding the stereotypes their target audience face, SK-II is able to utilise their advert to become ambassadors for a huge number of Chinese women, using its platform to tell their story. Using this method of advertising allows SK-II to increase awareness of these deep-rooted societal issues, whilst also connecting with its target audience on a personal level.


With the global online spend during Chinese New Year ever-increasing, it goes without saying that marketing and advertising around Chinese New Year are growing, not just in China, but across the globe. As a brand, if you want to increase your marketing efforts and target users during this holiday period, it’s important to first understand more about the traditions and behaviour exhibited by users during this time. Think about how you can play on those traditions, as Nike has done, as well as how you can use such prominent cultural events to align with your customer base and convey a relatable message.

Whatever route you choose to go down, just remember that you will need to go beyond direct translation, in order to resonate with the Chinese consumer. To keep up with seasonal events in China that you can advertise towards, take a look at Croud’s Chinese marketing calendar.

To find out more about Croud’s APAC services, and how we can help, get in touch.

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