How to succeed at digital marketing in China for Chinese New Year

Whether your Western business sells luxury travel, high-end designer or any other products that naturally appeal to the discerning Chinese market, Chinese New Year offers fantastic sales opportunities – if you get your campaign for digital marketing in China right!

Digital marketing in China is the natural channel focus for reaching the world’s biggest band of middle class consumers, with customers who are tech-savvy, interested in seeing the world and keen to invest in luxurious Western brands. And Chinese customers really do spend big for Chinese New Year, on flights home and fine food through luxurious gifts that showcase their status, and the famous Hongbao (red envelopes)! Research has shown that sales increase across all retail categories during Chinese New Year and particularly so in health and beauty, fashion, electronics, groceries and home and lifestyle.

Tips to succeed with your CNY digital marketing in China

With this in mind, here are some of our top tips for your digital marketing campaign in China – just in time for Chinese New Year, which falls on 5th February 2019.

Stand out

With so many Western brands now entering the Chinese market, it’s essential to stand out online when launching your Chinese New Year digital marketing campaign. Think outside of the box for innovative ideas that tap into the Chinese buyer’s love of fresh new experiences, fun and engaging content. For example, many brands have successfully created digital ‘Hongbao games’. Last year, Tencent QQ users could share branded digital Hongbao branded with Kenzo, YSL Beauty, Ferrari and more.

Consider creatives

Chinese New Year is a huge family celebration, so brands can successfully use creatives that invoke that sense of family values, emotion, connection and warmth. Singaporean telecommunications company, Star Hub, launched a great advert last year which touched on these elements perfectly. As with Christmas in the West, sentimentality can hit the mark for this special festival.

Enjoy the timing

The Chinese New Year period actually spans around three weeks, when Little Year preparations and the concluding Lantern Festival are factored in. During this holiday time, logistics tend to struggle as businesses will close. This means that many high-end consumer brands actually tend not to ramp up their marketing efforts.

For Western brands seeking to gain exposure online at this time, this offers a chance to place advertising in front of new prospects and to engage with existing companies. Those companies which may be less oriented around the season can then enjoy lower costs whilst accessing premium online advertising space.

Prepare to get social

Last year, more than 700 million Chinese people travelled home for the holiday or went overseas to see family. This also led to growth in bookings for international holiday destinations, especially long-haul flights. Huge numbers of Chinese consumers live streamed their holiday and aired views on the service that they received (including issues!).

As a Western brand operating in China, it’s vital to use this period to engage with your audience on Chinese social media. Create your targeted content in advance and choose the right platforms (remembering that the largest ones, such asWeChat and Weibo). Remember too that user-generated content is a huge growth area, and if you can excite your audience with a topic / hashtag that goes viral, you will hugely benefit from brand exposure without needing to generate the content yourself…

Offer value

Providing quality and unique content that offers your Chinese market real value is more important than ever. Remember that Chinese New Year involves a lot of preparation and can be stressful. It’s like Christmas, but bigger! So if your brand can offer content that helps to make the lives of your audience easier, now is the time to share it. Create online video tutorials, digital how-to guides and other useful top tips which will place your brand favourably in your customers’ minds as one that really understands them.


For CNY you can decorate your website for the occasion in the same way that Chinese homes will be decked out, with beautiful red and gold accessories. Add Happy New Year greetings in Chinese characters, create your Hongbao contests (remembering that Chinese customers love gamification), include carefully chosen colour and beautiful images of traditional Chinese paintings. It’s time to celebrate and this applies to your visuals too!

Optimise for mobile

In previous years, Chinese New Year has led to a spike in mobile purchases. You should ensure that your website is optimised for mobile and consider an app (even if you plan it now for the next big Chinese marketing period and have it ready for next CNY).

Remember your KOLs

Key Opinion Leaders can be vital in delivering a successful digital marketing campaign in China. There is still time to book the right KOL for your brand and offer if you work quickly. A Chinese marketing agency can help to identify the right KOL and facilitate the commercial arrangement in time for your branded content to be shared and promoted.

Pick your language

Chinese New Year is filled with ritual and tradition – exactly like Christmas in the West! The use of wording is particularly important here, and language with negative connotations should be avoided at all cost – even words such as ‘break’ or ’empty’. Don’t jinx your campaign by falling foul of language taboos. Keep regionalism in mind here too. As one example, the word for ‘apple’ in Mandarin, sounds like ‘died from sickness’ in Shanghainese!

Get in touch

Happy New Year, and hopefully a happy digital marketing campaign for your brand too. Remember that the experts at Market Me China are here to help you launch the right marketing campaign for your brand. From planning to delivery and post-campaign analytics, we will ensure that you enjoy the ROI that your digital campaign needs in China. Please get in touch to discuss your needs with us and we will be delighted to assist.