Chinese New Year. Lunar New Year. Spring Festival. Whatever name you prefer to use, it’s the most significant festival celebrated by the Chinese diaspora across the world, and by communities with strong Chinese relationships. It marks the first day of a new year on the lunar calendar, when these communities welcome another year with festivities that are steeped in cultural heritage.
To the Chinese diaspora living outside China, this is the most important annual event on the community and family calendar. In most countries, Chinese New Year is not marked with public holidays as it is in China, and there’s not as much of a bustling, festive public atmosphere for individuals to absorb and enjoy. However, with the contributions from individuals and community organisations, the festival is indeed thriving and has expanded to the broader community in Australia and around the world.
The Spring Festival extends around two weeks from Chuxi (New Year’s Eve) to Yuanxiao Jie (commonly referred to as the Lantern Festival) on the 15th day. A recent MultiConnexions study revealed the top five activities during this season – a series of moments and once-a-year opportunity to brands:
- Catching up with family and friends: This is the time for family and friends to come together to observe the New Year rituals together, wish each other an auspicious year ahead and share a special banquet. Youngsters will receive delightful hongbao (red packet) filled with yasuiqian (lucky money) that sets the right tone for their next year.
- Shopping is always an integral part of the celebration, be it for gifts, for the sumptuous banquet or for the positive sentiment of “throwing out the old and bringing in the new”.
- Attending holiday events: In Australia, large-scale celebrations take place in metropolitan centres across the nation. The Sydney Festival, which started in Chinatown, now goes all the way to Sydney Harbour, and drew an estimated 1.3 million people in 2016. It has become a truly multicultural celebration of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Korean cultures.
- Watching entertainment online: During the festive season, it’s a great time to follow and watch the abundant entertainment content through digital channels.
- Use of social and digital media soars as people exchange greetings, watch videos, and forwards interesting and fun content to entertain each other.
The Spring Festival offers a multitude of opportunities to marketers. Brands can reach a large captured audience that encompasses not just the Chinese but the broader community as well. The general upbeat sentiment of the celebrations means the audience are open and looking for new experiences and new offers that will help them make the New Year better.
Here are eight ways marketing and communications experts can capitalise on diversity, and empower your brand to build meaningful relationships with the communities that make up multicultural Australia.
- Go beyond generic good wishes. Whether it’s xing nian kuai le (Happy New Year) or kong hei fat choy (May you strike a fortune), your audience will see, hear and say these words frequently in the season. To be remembered, you have to be innovative, and create new greetings that are right for your brands and category.
- Stop uniform messaging and start appealing to the mythic energies of each year. Each year has a different animal – each with a distinctly different personality, energy and characteristics – and thus the messaging for Chinese New Year should be tailored accordingly. For example, for a year/ animal that flies, the message can capture that spirit.
- Offers are good, relationships are great. Instead of focussing on the product or service, think broadly in terms of community engagement to build long-lasting relationships. The magic is in crafting a campaign that does both.
- Make it Australian. The Spring Festival is a traditional occasion, but it’s alive and evolving. While its values stay relatively stable, their expressions are open to creativity. This is particularly true if your audience is the ‘millennial’ generation.
- Strong activation will see your brand leveraging the many local festivals. Celebrate together with the community and think in terms of what value your organisation can add.
- Choose the right community media to maximise reach in the right language. The most intimate feelings are expressed in our mother tongue. We conducted a study which found that the Chinese audience prefer to see content in Chinese because this makes it easier to follow and resonates deeper.
- Get the date right, and start planning early. Put it on your annual marketing calendar. The Spring Festival 2017 falls on January 28, and it is critical to start the planning in September.
- Partner with the right agency. Ensure it is an agency with intimate relationships with the community and community media. The right multicultural agency can help you navigate the cultural intricacies and discover the right voice for your brand.
- Kaiyu Li, is the director, strategy and insights at MultiConnexions