One of the most important traditional Chinese festivals, Mid-Autumn Festival is not only celebrated in China, but also in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Each year, on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, people get together to celebrate it.
Chinese people have been celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival for almost 4,000 years. Originally designed as a celebration of the harvest and to worship the moon, the festival is now geared towards family reunion.
In China, Mid-Autumn Festival is the second-most important festival after Chinese Lunar New Year. But why is this festival so important to Chinese people? And what do we need to know when thinking about marketing around the festival? Here we take a look at five key themes associated with the celebration that marketers can capitalise on.
1. The moon
One of the most significant symbols of Mid-Autumn Festival is the moon; indeed, the moon is supposedly at its brightest, roundest and biggest on this day each year. In the old days, the Chinese emperor used to lead all the officials to worship the moon and pray for the harvest as they believed that the moon brings rain. Moreover, the round moon also symbolises perfection.
Many businesses take advantage of the shape of the moon in their seasonal promotions. Back in 2015, Audi changed one of the rings in its logo to a full moon; at the same time, BMW’s engine button became the moon.
Family reunion is a key part of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration. Normally, the whole family gets together in the evening, looks up to the sky and enjoys time together. No matter how far people are away from home, this is the time for family coming together.
It is no doubt that warmth and affection are the main themes of advertisements for Mid-Autumn Festival. Family reunion is the classic marketing angle for all kinds of businesses.
Almost all Chinese festivals have an emphasis on food, and Mid-Autumn Festival is no exception. Mooncake is the traditional food for celebrating the festival, with the majority of mooncakes being round shape to represent the moon and reunion.
Apart from mooncake, cassia wine, water caltrop, pomelo and osmanthus cakes are other must-haves for the festival.
The well-known ice cream brand Häagen-Dazs has been selling ice cream mooncakes in China since 2011. It was a pioneering decision, as no one in China had ever seen ice cream mooncake before at the time. Though the products are not cheap, people are still curious about it. Since then, Häagen-Dazs’ ice cream mooncake has become one of the best-selling gift choices in China; moreover, it is also one of the outstanding localisation marketing cases that target to China as well.
After Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival is the second-most popular time for Chinese consumers to send gifts to one another during the year.
Whilst mooncakes dominate a large portion of the gift market, Chinese shoppers are also actively looking for more creative presents for elderly relatives, parents, children, managers, and other friends and family members, so don’t miss the opportunity to market your gifts around this time.
5. Folk stories
Though Chinese New Year is the most popular festival in China, Mid-Autumn Festival has the most well-known folk stories and legends. Chang’e flies to the moon after drinking the elixir of life, then become the goddess of the Moon; Wu Gang has been punished by being forced to cut down the osmanthus tree that will never die; the jade rabbit is busy making the elixir of life…
Mid-Autumn Festival is also mentioned in many ancient tales, including folk rhymes, proverbs, idioms and Chinese two-part allegorical sayings. As it happens, almost all of them are quite bitter stories, about lovers who have been separated by destiny, making those away from home feel homesick.
Making the most of the lovesick theme, Durex has created adverts such as the below, using implicit imagery, in this case mooncake, around Mid-Autumn Festival. Creative ideas are always the king of advertising, even if you think your business has no direct connection to the festival.
Keen to learn more about the marketing opportunity in China? Why not check our Chinese marketing calendar, full of lots of key events and marketing opportunities throughout the year.