Marketing for Chinese Lunar New Year: Remember These Shopping Habits

When it comes to sales, the Lunar New Year is the most important time in the Chinese calendar. Also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, this holiday marks the start of a new moon and is the most significant celebration of the year. It’s usually known as a lucky time for Chinese people, but eCommerce businesses can really prosper too if they get their marketing right.

Chinese consumers spent more than 926 billion yuan ($146 billion US dollars) during the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays in 2018. That’s a whole lot more than the total sales produced during the shopping-heavy Thanksgiving weekend in the US. Chinese shoppers spend big during Lunar New Year, so it’s an important time for both brick-and-mortar and eCommerce business owners. Chinese New Year begins on February 5th in 2019 and your business needs to get prepared.

If you want your eCommerce business to do well during Chinese New Year, you need to know about Chinese shopping habits and market your online business the right way. Let’s start with the lowdown on Chinese shopping habits during the Lunar New Year:

1 – Lunar New Year is a big time for gift buying
Gift giving is a traditional part of the Lunar New Year. Red envelopes full of money (known as “hongbao” in Mandarin) are traditionally presented by married people to unmarried ones, or often from older people to younger friends, family, and acquaintances. It’s also common to give material gifts, so Chinese New Year always leads to a jump in retail sales as people scramble to buy presents for their loved ones.
2 – Online shopping tends to dominate
Chinese commerce really takes place online. Chinese consumers are huge fans of online shopping and eCommerce is highly popular in the country, especially around the Lunar New Year. Apps and social media platforms like WeChat make it easy to buy and send Chinese New Year gifts online – in fact, WeChat even introduced an e-hongbao option in 2014! Online sales in China surpassed 7 trillion yuan ($1.15 trillion US dollars) in 2017 and online sales tend to peak around Lunar New Year and Singles Day. If you’re an eCommerce business owner, this is a vitally important time to concentrate your marketing efforts on Chinese and other East Asian consumers.
3 – Clothes and household appliances are popular purchases
Almost 30% of Chinese consumers buy clothes and accessories during the Lunar New Year holidays. This is no surprise, given that this is always a popular sector and carries an extra importance during this festival. Most Chinese people traditionally clean their homes before the Chinese New Year, which commonly comes along with an increase in clothes shopping (or as the saying goes, “New year, new clothes.”). These sales extend beyond clothes into household appliances too. In 2016, the payment processor UnionPay reported that department stores, supermarkets, and stores selling household appliances accounted for a huge chunk of total sales during this period.
4 – Travel spending is common during Spring Festival too

The Lunar New Year is a common time for travel with many Chinese travelers flooding to countries like Thailand,
The Lunar New Year is a common time for travel with many Chinese travelers flooding to countries like Thailand, Japan, and the US. Chinese international tourists spend around a quarter of their income per year on travel and they don’t skimp when it comes to style and comfort. The direct travel sector and travel-related accessories tend to benefit from increased tourism around this time of year, with knock-on effects for sectors like food, fashion, and health and beauty, as Chinese tourists pack their suitcases with home comforts before jetting off.
So now you know about Chinese Lunar New Year shopping habits, lets take a look at how you should market your eCommerce business for Chinese New Year.