File Photo: A craftswoman adorns a pig-shaped festive lantern at the Baotu Spring Park in Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province, Jan. 9, 2019. (Xinhua/Lyu Chuanquan)
Chinese New Year has gone global in the last couple of years with a marked uptick in engagement worldwide. Heavily impacted by the growing global awareness of Chinese New Year is the retail sector -- especially high-end merchandise and luxury brands.
Brand leaders and major retail chains are finding Chinese New Year has a profound effect not just on the global supply chain for their goods sourced from China, but on their retail sales at home as well.
In fact, Chinese consumers accounted for 32 percent of all luxury brand purchases worldwide in the year 2017, according to Boston-based consultancy Bain & Co. A November study by the company also said Chinese consumers will be responsible for nearly half of global high-end luxury sales by 2025.
Buying new things to wear and to give as gifts is an important way for Chinese consumers to celebrate the New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year. Total earnings of retail and catering enterprises in China reached around 900 billion yuan (about 133 billion U.S. dollars) during the 2018 Chinese New Year holiday period, according to data released by China's Ministry of Commerce.
So savvy global brands and top retail chains are all "seeing red" -- the official Chinese New Year color -- and getting into the action to promote their goods and services by targeting Chinese consumers with new product lines, specialty items and marketing campaigns inspired by the Lunar New Year.
The top retailers and global brand leaders have found appealing ways to build hype and consumer anticipation leading up to and beyond the New Year as they seek to expand and extend consumer engagement.
In particular, younger Chinese consumers tend to spend their holiday money, rather than save it, and are looking for immediate gratification via shopping, encouraging retailers to target this lucrative demographic.
For instance, seeking greater relevance with young Chinese consumers, Lululemon, the Canadian athleisure retailer, created a Chinese New Year collection last year. It paired ten healthier lifestyle practices with ten Chinese cultural elements and lunar festival traditions in a marketing campaign entitled "Practice Takes Practice."
Weaving elements of the traditional Chinese zodiac into product designs and marketing campaigns can lead to successful cross-cultural sales opportunities and helps brands appeal to Chinese consumers.
Also, the animal traits of the zodiac character each year give a hint about how Chinese consumers see the year to come, so they can be artfully taken into account when designing these new products.
Online retailer Amazon has a vast array of Chinese New Year theme-related merchandise to entice Year of the Pig shoppers, including decorations, clothing, statues, jewelry, and more, all just one click away.
Many top retail chains have also gotten into the Chinese New Year fever, staging Chinese New Year-themed marketing campaigns and merchandise, including London's Harrods and Selfridges, New York's Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macys, Los Angeles area's Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, South Coast Plaza and Santa Anita Mall, and even the city of Beverly Hills and many of its high-end boutiques and hotels.
In particular, London-based retailer, Selfridges, staged an entire in-store Chinese New Year campaign, offering traditional Chinese calligraphy lessons, Asian-themed beauty treatments, and other Sino-centric classes.
This year at Two Rodeo Drive, a high-end street nestled at the heart of Beverly Hills' world-renowned shopping district, over two dozen leading luxury and fashion boutiques offered special Chinese New Year-themed campaigns and products, including Versace, Audemars Piguet, Tiffany & Co., Jimmy Choo, Stefano Ricci, Carolina Herrera, and more.
The global trend to embrace Chinese New Year has been growing for the last several years. This year, for the Year of the Pig, Longchamp released a charming purse with a pigtail design motif in collaboration with Mr. Bags, a leading Shanghai-based Chinese fashion blogger.
Dior released an elegant bag which featured a sophisticated red and white-patterned interpretation of traditional Chinese paper cuts.
One of the more extensive commitments to Chinese New Year and the booming Chinese market came with Nike. It launched its Kyrie 4 "Chinese New Year" sneaker in 2018, and this year really rolled out the red carpet with an entire limited-edition Chinese New Year collection whose colors and materials were directly inspired by the Chinese zodiac animals and traditional Chinese patchwork.
South Coast Plaza, the largest shopping mall on the West Coast of the United States where many top-brand luxuries are sold, welcomed the Lunar New Year with a spectacular celebration. A custom-designed grand Lunar New Year centerpiece was unveiled with eight flying pig figures representing auspicious symbols soaring over a giant figure of a cheerful pig inside an ornate pagoda.
"South Coast Plaza continues to elevate the Lunar New Year retail celebration," spokeswoman for South Coast Plaza Debra Gunn Downing told Xinhua at the event. "Visitors have made it an annual tradition to come to us for exclusive and culturally relevant experiences."