Tips on mobile marketing in China during Chinese New Year

The Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival sees an explosion in travel, spending, and generosity. It is a prime period for marketing and increasing business, both for domestic and foreign companies. There is plenty of data available regarding consumer behaviour to help you plan your marketing in China during Chinese New Year, and today we want to look at China’s vast number of smartphone users.

As of July this year China had 632million mobile internet users – more than double the entire population of the USA. While growing at a rate of 14million new users each year, figures are suggesting a slow down in smartphone growth with Q1 figures of 2014 being around 25% lower than the same period in 2013. This is not bad news, however, as with 83% of Chinese netizens accessing the internet through their phone, the slowdown simply means the number of non-smartphone users is naturally getting smaller and smaller (source: Market Watch).

There are plenty of Chinese mobile internet users, and here’s what they like doing during New Year and what you need to consider mobile marketing in China.


Advertisment clicks and App Downloads

During Chinese New Year, many people travel home to be with their families, or abroad to take advantage of the time off work. As well as being able to check train, bus, and flight times and keep up to date with the traffic, Chinese smartphone users are also looking for ways to alleviate the boredom of long journeys on public transport, or waiting in airport terminals.

The highest number of app downloads took place before the New Year holiday period, with smartphone users preparing for their trips. The number of smartphone users clicking on advertisements increased by 51.6% during the January 16th – February 6th period. After the initial surge in app downloads, the rate steadily declined over the actual Lunar Festival period, ending up 28.7% lower at the end of the Spring Festival than at the start. This is likely down to poor internet speeds or lack of WiFi whilst travelling or at home in rural areas. WeChat was the most popular app by far in terms of advertising clicks, with the other most popular types of app in terms of advertising clicks being arcade style games, productivity, and entertainment apps (source: The Next Web).



A well established tradition for Chinese New Year is to give hongbao to friends, relatives, and business partners. These red envelopes contain money. For this year’s celebration, the number one instant messenger app in China, WeChat, introduced a new service which made hongbaos (red envelope) digital. App users could send up to €12 in a digital red envelope to their contacts. It proved very popular, with five million people sending out 20million cyber hongbao in the first two days of Chinese New Year (source: Mercis). Envelopes, particularly red ones (red being the colour of prosperity and fortune in China) are a powerful and tradition symbol; worth bearing in mind when planning your marketing to China during the Spring Festival.


(Image source: “Cropped Image Of Man Displaying Smart Phone” |