How marketers can take advantage of Chinese New Year in Australia

Author: Doris Li, GM - Marketing & Communications, Bastion China | 01/04/2019

Chinese New Year is the most important Chinese festival that is celebrated each year at the turn of the traditional lunar calendar. Chinese New Year typically falls between 21 January and 20 February, and celebrations will last 15 days. The key dates for 2019 are just around the corner, with New Year’s Eve on 4th February, New Year’s Day on 5th February and the Lantern Festival on 19th February.

Chinese New Year (CNY) is marked by visits to family and friends, special meals, fireworks, and gift giving, making it a great way to showcase your China credentials to your clients or consumers.

CNY celebrations usually begin on Chinese New Year’s Eve as the New Year’s Eve dinner is the most important dinner for the Chinese, reuniting family members who live away from home. Chinese social media networks, Weibo and WeChat, often become flooded with commentary by the younger generations.

There are 1.2 million people with Chinese ancestry living in Australia and over 180,000 Chinese students studying here. And there’s the 1.4 million Chinese tourists who will visit our shores in 2018 according to Tourism Australia and spend an average of $8,000 AUD compared to an average of $5,000 by international visitors.

So what can Australian marketers do to take advantage of CNY?

When talking about your CNY plan, a common mistake businesses make is that they only look at the first three days of CNY.

There are different periods that businesses need to consider for their campaign. It should start from November/December, when the international students have finished their exams and are planning to go back to China for the semester break and CNY. This is the time students are looking for products to purchase and take back to China.

The good thing for most brands is that it’s usually the time for Christmas and holiday season sales, so they don’t necessarily need to create new campaigns for the Chinese students, but they need to choose the right channels to reach students and add a CNY gifting angle to the communications.

The CNY period is the peak period for Chinese tourists to travel to Australia thus a good opportunity to reach inbound tourists. Shopping is a big part for Chinese tourists and they usually do their research before departure, so it is always beneficial to pre-target them when they’re still in China planning they’re holiday (which of course requires a big marketing budget).

Alternative solutions for a smaller budget including securing some presence at the airport, make an impression on store windows, or communicate to Australia based Chinese who could spread the word to their friends and families that are visiting during this period.

We suggest brands run their CNY sales and offers for two weeks, instead of just three days. Chinese usually take two weeks to travel to Australia and they usually leave shopping to the last couple of days as no one would like to carry too many products around. This was the advice we gave to UGG this year and according to the client, sales during their CNY campaign increased by 50%.

Another factor to consider is that CNY is the time for Chinese to be with their families (like Christmas for Westerners) and family reunion is a big thing in Chinese culture, so some emotional content for CNY campaigns may work better than purely sales. Traditionally people like to stay at home with their families during CNY, however, with the summer weather in Australia for CNY, there’s an opportunity for brands and some local events, like the Australian Open for example, to attract families and position themselves as a ‘must do’ or ‘the place to be’ for CNY.

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