Hongbao marketing for Chinese New Year 2016

The Year of the Sheep has just  passed, with the Year of the Monkey on the horizon. We are of course talking about Chinese New Year 2016, an event celebrated all across the world. The festivities involve traditions both new and old, and in some cases a clever combination of the two.

Take the Hongbao, for example. Traditionally, red envelopes containing small amounts of money were gifted to friends, family members, and in particular children. They are still highly popular in China, but thanks to leading tech companies such as Tencent and Alibaba and , they’ve gone digital.

A review of 2015 Hongbao marketing for Chinese New Year

Digital Hongbao were incredibly popular during the last year’s Chinese New Year celebrations. Messaging apps and social networks such as WeChat and Weibo saw huge uptake in their virtual Hongbao features, which allowed users and companies to electronically gift money.

The number of electronic Hongbao sent on WeChat alone on Chinese New Year’s Eve in 2015 was 200 times greater than in 2014. Users sent each other over 1 billion RMB (£110 million), while Alipay users gifted 240 million RMB (£26 million) and Weibo users exchanged 101 million RMB (£11 million) (source: China Internet Watch). Alipay, the mobile payment option offered by Alibaba, ran a Hongbao-grabbing competition which engaged 100 million people (source: Global Times).

Both Alibaba and Tencent ran Hongbao lotteries, with Tencent giving away the equivalent of £85 million and Alipay handing out £67 million in virtual red envelopes (source: Daily Mail).

But how are brands in China celebrating Chinese New Year 2016? Here’s what some have got planned.

Alibaba hopes to capitalise on Single’s Day sales success

eCommerce giant Alibaba has launched a new shopping festival in the run-up to Chinese New Year. The company, often credited with popularising the idea of Single’s Day (with incredibly lucrative results), has been issuing vouchers in the Hongbao format, as well as teaming up with global brands to increase penetration of their products into rural areas in China (source: Retail Analysis).

Burberry makes Hongbao their own for Chinese New Year 2016

In partnership with WeChat, luxury brand Burberry have implemented features that will allow users to send personalised envelopes to family and friends in honour of Spring Festival 2016. Using the platform, fans of the brand will have the chance to win some physical Burberry Hongbaos, specially created and packaged for the Lunar New Year (source: Fashion Times).

Coca-Cola sticks to time-honoured strategy

This year’s Lunar New Strategy for Coke involves bringing back two favourite characters. The cartoon characters, inspired by Chinese folk figures who symbolise good luck during festivities, will once again adorn Coke bottles and their online and mobile campaigns. Emoticons of the figures, animated to depict activities associated with Chinese New Year, were previously downloaded on WeChat 12.2 million times. The characters are credited with generating a 9% rise in sales of Coca-Cola (source: Ad Age).

How your company can benefit from Hongbao marketing for Chinese New Year 2016

Like any campaign tied into a special event, your Chinese New Year marketing needs to be seen as something more than attempt to capitalise on popular festivities. You need to have a deeper engagement with Chinese New Year, and show your fans and target market that you are getting into the spirit of the event. Hongbao and other promotional items are a great way to promote your business during the Spring Festival, but make sure you build stronger connections to the celebrations than just seeking sales.

(Image source: Image created by Tanya3597 | www.freedigitalphotos.net)