恭喜发财: CHINESE NEW YEAR

Traditional, beautiful, complicated, crucially important and often overlooked: have you planned for Chinese New Year?

February 16th 2018 marks the start of the Chinese year of the dog, and the beginning of two weeks of colourful, luminous, noisy and delicious festivities. 

With Christmas taking so much planning, many marketers and events planners here in the UK often neglect to plan for the celebration, which seems odd given how important the Chinese market is to Britain, particularly in a post-Brexit world and following Prime Minister May and President Xi’s promise of a“Golden Era” in Sino-British strategic relations. 

The allure of the Chinese market Is nothing new. Most businesses with global ambitions have a strategy for attracting and engaging Chinese customers, partners and suppliers but few have anything more than a surface understanding of Chinese culture, which often means that their marketing executions fall short of the mark, or worse, come across as superficial and culturally reductionist.

Chinese New Year is an elongated festive period with recognised cadences and events within events. It is celebrated as a time for reunion, it’s also a time for cleansing and a celebration of good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity. 

Common activities like the giving of red envelopes and lighting of firecrackers are well-known but a more nuanced understanding will ensure for example, that you avoid organising an event on the third day of Chinese New Year as this is considered an unlucky day to have guests or to go visiting. When planning your catering, bear in mind that the 13th day of new year is when people will eat purely vegetarian food, whereas on the 15th day people tend to celebrate by eating tangyuan, a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup. Chinese numerology also plays an important part in the superstitions that surround the celebration - the numbers six and eight are considered lucky and gifts in red envelopes should always be made in even numbers, as odd numbers are associated with funerals. 

These may seem like trivial observations, but good marketing is about showing your customers that you’ve thought about them and understand their needs.

Consider adding modern twists associated with Chinese social behaviours - did you know that people actually use QR codes in China, and a more transactional culture has meant that Chinese consumers act on platforms like WeChat, very differently to how we might do on WhatsApp or Facebook, for example. This simple observation suddenly introduces scope for lots of creativity around how you communicate with your guests and create your invitations, for example. While a focus on tradition, iconography and symbolism is necessary, we’ve found that it’s important to incorporate modern Western design trends to create beautiful, authentic and relevant interactions.

Above all else, don’t leave Chinese New Year as a post-Christmas after-thought. Do your planning early and recognise that what many might consider to be the dark days of January and February - with their accompanying detoxes and gym routines - are also the year's festive high-point for the world’s second largest economy.

You can view some of our Chinese New Year events in our portfolio.

We deliver event inspiration, industry trend reports and relevant news straight to your inbox on a monthly basis...subscribe to our mailing list (sign up box in the footer).