What New Year traditions you can use when marketing in China

Chinese New Year is a time of happiness and generosity. It sees Chinese consumers undertaking many traditions believed to stimulate prosperity and good fortune for the coming year. It’s a time for increased spending – Chinese believe that they should start the New Year wearing new clothes and most people will travel home to visit their family.

Adding some timely cultural touches to your marketing in China shows you are making an effort to fit in. It helps to win customer loyalty by showing that you care about what is important to them. Here are some Chinese New Year traditions you could try incorporating into your Spring Festival marketing.



The Hongbao (红包), or red envelope, is traditionally filled with money and given as a gift to children, friends, family, and business partners. With companies running special promotions, discounts, and freebies throughout the New Year period, Hongbao have become a common theme for marketing in China.

As a Western company, there is an obvious culture barrier. The big global companies that have failed to gain a foothold in the Chinese market have often done so because they did not adjust their offerings for Chinese consumers. Using the Hongbao in your marketing shows your customers that you understand and value their traditions. You can also use the symbol ‘Fu (福)’, which is often displayed upside down to express good wishes of fortune to others.


Chinese New Year Dinner

Over a billion people in China travel to be with family or friends over the New Year period. With many family members living away from home, this meal will be a major family reunion. Fish is normally served, and dumplings are an important dish in northern China; both of these things signify prosperity. These are two more elements that can be incorporated into your marketing to China, and messages that signify and enforce the value of the family unit, and of staying in to enjoy some time together, will be particularly well-received.


Shou Sui

‘Shou Sui (守岁)’ means to stay up late or all night on Chinese New Year’s Eve. According to Chinese mythology, ‘Nian (年)’ or ‘Year’, is in fact a mythical creature or beast. On the night of New Year’s Eve, the ‘Year’ comes to bring harm to people, properties, and animals. It was discovered that the ‘Year’ was frightened away by the colour red, and by loud noises such as fireworks. People traditionally stay up past midnight on New Year’s Eve to ensure that Nian stays away.

Your marketing in China may not centre around scaring away terrifying monsters. In the UK we have no real reason other than to celebrate for staying up past midnight and watching a firework display. In China these things have a grounding in mythology and tradition, and knowing this can help you to lend significant credence to the tradition.


Little touches can make a big difference. A small gesture of understanding can go a long way towards earning the trust and loyalty of Chinese consumers.
(Image source: “New Year Ornaments” | www.freedigitalphotos.net)