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5 Key Shopping Trends Retailers Should Watch This Chinese New Year

by Gwen F.

January 22, 2019

News & Trends 5 min read

5 Key Shopping Trends Retailers Should Watch This Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year welcomes the start of a new year in the Chinese calendar. Over two billion people are known to take part in the occasion — making it one of the most celebrated festivals in the world.

High shopping activity during Chinese New Year opens several opportunities for business owners. By building a marketing strategy around consumer habits, your business can also experience an increase in revenue from this prominent holiday.

Here are major trends every small business should look out for this Chinese New Year.

5 Key Shopping Habits Around Chinese New Year

1. People are shopping for food, clothes, and MORE food and clothes

1. People are shopping for food, clothes, and MORE food and clothes

The largest overseas Chinese populations in Southeast Asia are in Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Buyers from these key markets are known for omnichannel behaviour — they’re shopping in-store, on websites, marketplaces, you name it.

So what items are selling like dumplings in the region? Product categories that collect the biggest sales increase during Chinese New Year are food (53%) and clothing items (45%).

If you’re running a business in any of those two categories, then capitalise on the trend. What items can you count on being profitable? Check your inventory and switch things up a bit by creating special Chinese New Year packages.

Next step is to assess your financial records. How much discount can you afford to offer? Calculate your costs before announcing any discounts on your store.

2. January is the peak selling period for Chinese New Year items

2. January is the peak selling period for Chinese New Year items

Chinese New Year sales start to spike on the first week of January — pushing retailers to start advertising as early as December. Consumers reach a peak preparation time a month before the celebration, usually starting around the first or second week of January.

Meanwhile, there is a noticeable decline in sales five days before the new year starts. At this time, a majority of celebrants have everything prepared and ready for the festivities.

3. Shoppers are heading online for holiday shopping

3. Shoppers are heading online for holiday shopping

“Nian Huo (年货)” or Chinese New Year shopping is shifting to an online environment. Convenience and easy price comparison are among the main reasons consumers choose to shop online during the holidays.

Criteo noted that as many as 174 million Chinese New Year transactions in Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam were focused online. Overall sales for desktop rose up by 164%, while mobile shopping accumulated 123%.

Marketers can take a cue from Shopee. Around the Chinese New Year season, the online shopping platform drop discounts that range from 50% to 70% markdown off the original prices.

Of course, drastic discounts aren’t the only way to win over consumers. Get inspired by these simple yet effective marketing strategies:

  • Provide useful content to your customers. Write a blog, offer a video tutorial, or create Chinese New Year templates to help your audience get ready for the festivities.
  • Encourage user-generated content. Launch a hashtag challenge to gain traction on social media. It costs less and helps you target a specific group of people. You can also partner with micro-influencers to increase brand awareness online.
  • Get creative with your marketing campaigns. Red and gold, red and gold...red and gold everywhere! While these colours are strongly associated with Chinese New Year, you risk making your collaterals unmemorable. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box by playing with gradients and shades — but be sure it stays faithful to your brand, of course.

4. Mobile shopping reigns supreme

4. Mobile shopping reigns supreme

Southeast Asia is well on its way to becoming a mobile-first market, with the average user spending 3.6 hours per day on mobile internet.

With its strong grip on the region, it shouldn’t be surprising that mobile still claims a great portion of Chinese New Year sales — despite bulk purchases still being made on desktop.

Online marketplace Qoo10 noted that 60% of its transactions stem from its mobile apps in 2018. ShopBack experienced similar numbers, with country head Vincent Wong stating that customers “buy on the platform that’s most convenient or accessible for them at the point of purchase”.

To stay relevant in the Chinese market, you’ll need a solid mobile-focused strategy. Define your business’s mobile strategy around these key areas:

Mobile-friendly website

Mobile-ready websites have become a standard practice in ecommerce. They’re not just essential for reaching consumers, but search engines like Google are known to prioritise websites with mobile-friendly designs as well.

Mobile ads and campaigns

Remember that when it comes to mobile advertising, what looks good on the desktop won’t always work on mobile. So make sure to optimise those ads for mobile environments.

  • Prioritise mobile videos. A full-screen video demands a viewer’s attention — increasing the likelihood of them finishing it to the end. Take advantage of this behaviour by creating video ads that are compatible across multiple devices.
  • Design your ads to fit smaller screen sizes. Shorter messages, bigger buttons, and an immediate call to action are just some important design principles to keep in mind for mobile ads.
  • Make use of mobile multi-touch functions. Swipe, shake, pinch...there are so many actions you can incorporate on your mobile ad. The more engaging (and relevant to your brand), the better.

Finally, check your mobile strategy by assessing engagement metrics. Metrics like bounce rates, conversions, landing pages, etc. help you determine what is working and what isn’t.

5. Online payment platforms are increasing in popularity

5. Online payment platforms are increasing in popularity

Despite low credit card penetration on the region, online payment platforms continue to soar in Asia — and they’re getting creative.

In 2018, 768 million people used WeChat Pay to send and receive digital Angpao (red packets) during Chinese New Year season.

Yes, a simple red packet successfully converted consumers into mobile payments. Take advantage of the trend by expanding your online payment options on your ecommerce site. Aside from giving your business more sales opportunities, you also provide your consumers with a more secure checkout experience.

One Last Thing…

To win over the market this Chinese New Year, retailers need to embrace the ever-changing needs of consumers.

Fortunately, technology has now made it possible to keep track of a consumer’s path to purchase. Using analytics tools and ecommerce platforms, you know have an understanding of how consumers behave and what campaigns are effectively engaging shoppers.

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1. People are shopping for food, clothes, and MORE food and clothes
2. January is the peak selling period for Chinese New Year items
3. Shoppers are heading online for holiday shopping
4. Mobile shopping reigns supreme
5. Online payment platforms are increasing in popularity