This week, we explore which brands shine in Lunar New Year marketing. What lessons can we learn from them?

Say hello to the true Tiger King

How international brands are celebrating the lunar Year of the Tiger and what Australian brands could learn from them.

George Organ

Creative

Learning Organisation

5 minute read

2020, Netflix’s Tiger King took the world by storm, with 34.3 million watching within the first ten days1. But fast forward two years and we’re about to see the true tiger king emerge, one that’s celebrated by two BILLION people across the globe – the lunar Year of the Tiger.
In short
  • Lunar New Year is celebrated by two billion people worldwide2 and over 1.5 million in Australia.3
  • While it’s obviously huge for brands in China and many other Asian countries, Lunar New Year largely remains a missed opportunity in Australia.
  • Research shows that Asian Australians would like to see more Lunar New Year campaigns and promotions from Australian brands.3
Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, is the most important holiday in China and many parts of Asia, as well as for Chinese across the globe2.

As it goes according to the lunar calendar, there’s no set date for Chinese New Year, but in 2022 it falls on February 1, with celebrations lasting up to 16 days, seven of which are considered public holidays in many parts of Asia4.

It also causes the largest human migration in the world, as people travel from across the globe for the New Year’s Eve family reunion feast2.

In short, it’s a big deal.

This year will be the Year of the Tiger, the third of the Chinese zodiacs, known for their speed, vigor and courage5. And while some brands will celebrate the holiday boldly like a tiger, others, particularly in Australia, are approaching it more like a pussy cat. Let’s take a closer look.
What brands are doing around the world
Understanding just how lucrative the Asian market is to their business, Apple have gone big for Lunar New Year. Really big. Forget a flash-in-the-pan 60-second spot, they’ve gone for a 23-minute short film epic.

And not ones to miss out on a product upsell, they’ve also introduced a Chinese New Year gift guide, along with special edition tiger-themed Beats Studio Buds.
Similarly, Lego have gotten on board with a range of official Chinese New Year sets, designed to be built together with family.
What brands are doing in Australia
In a nutshell, not much.

Despite research showing that Asian Australians would like to see more Lunar New Year campaigns and promotions from Australian brands3, it’s largely been a missed opportunity for marketers here.

Outside of a few catalogue pages from our major supermarkets and the odd (and I mean odd) product play (Durian KitKat anyone?), few big brands have taken the bull by the horns (or the tiger by the paws) and made Lunar New Year their own, at least to the extent that they clamber over Christmas.

“While some brands will celebrate the holiday boldly like a tiger, others, particularly in Australia, are approaching it more like a pussy cat.”

Making Lunar New Year more prosperous for local brands
So, where are the opportunities for local brands? Here are three ways in.

Reunion Feasts
The most important part of Lunar New Year is the family reunion, in particular the New Year’s Eve dinner2. Just like they do for Christmas feasts, there’s a huge opportunity for supermarkets and drinks providers to showcase their offering, because if you think Christmas lunch is big, wait till you’ve had a Chinese New Year feast.

New year, new look
New clothes are believed to bring good luck and start over fresh2, people add new red clothing to their wardrobe too, so there’s opportunity for clothes retailers to step forward and lay claim to being the home of the wardrobe refresh. And, of course, charities could benefit too with lots of old clothes looking for a new home.

Uncle, you’re on mute
With COVID restrictions and general hesitation around international travel still holding many people back from flying home for their family reunion, phone calls and video chats are going to be in high demand, opening the opportunity for telecommunications companies to facilitate simple, affordable ways for families to connect and engage, whether it’s through discounted international calls, new digital products or something else.
Taking on Lunar New Year like a tiger
Obviously, targeting Lunar New Year requires a respectful and considered approach. As multicultural and diversity marketing expert Katrina Hall points out, ‘from strategy to language nuances, imagery, media and more, there are a myriad of factors that impact the success (or failure) of your campaign’3. But with research indicating that Asian Australians are more likely to buy from brands that engage with them at Lunar New Year3, it’s essential that local brands take the time and care to leverage one of the world’s largest and potentially most prosperous holidays.

Gong xi fa cai.

on colour psychology
Theories on colour psychology have been around for centuries; Goethe and Schiller’s 'Rose of Temperaments' was developed in 1798. But they overlooked an obvious influence on an individual’s response to colour – cultural resonance. In Chinese culture, red represents happiness and good fortune, making it the colour of choice for Lunar New Year.

Written by George Organ, 52 Words by Abby Clark, editing by Natasha Velkova, key visual by Patrick Brennan, page built by Kate Pendergast
References
  1. Ariel Shapiro, 34 Million People Watched ‘Tiger King’ In Its First Ten Days On Netflix (2020), Forbes
  2. Amanda Xi, 21 Things You Didn’t Know About Chinese New Year (2022), Chinese New Year
  3. Katrina Hall, Eight lucky tips for Australian brands to create winning Lunar New Year marketing (2021), B&T
  4. Waisai Brand Studio, Year of the Tiger Chinese New Year (2022), Chinese New Year
  5. Fefe Ho & Chloe Chiao, Year of the Tiger (2022), Chinese New Year

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