Guide to Prosperity: 7 SME Marketing Strategies for Chinese New Year 2021

Chinese New Year is just around the corner, and businesses everywhere are tapping into consumer mindsets. The knee jerk reaction of most businesses is to offer tons of festive promotions and discounts to drive sales. So it’s only natural that your brand could fade into the background in an oversaturated landscape of CNY promotions and discounts.

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A red packet or ang bao of Crimson Star, a Singapore superhero.

Don’t get us wrong. We Iike CNY for its core messages of quality family time and well wishes, but it’s also a really stressful time of the year. There are clothes and goodies to buy, spring cleaning to do and COVID-restrictred gatherings to coordinate! Bottom-line is that these 15 days can be quite costly if you aren’t resourceful enough.

For brands to stand out, you’ll need an effective and memorable marketing strategy. Weigh your priorities. Do you want to increase brand awareness or boost sales? Here are some marketing ideas to bolster consumer interaction and make your CNY campaign an affair to remember.

1. Spruce up your Website, Branding Collateral and Products

Starbucks releases a series of CNY themed products commemorating the year of the Ox.
Source: Starbucks Facebook

Chinese New Year is a festival filled with symbolism, and none is more iconic than the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese zodiac has become such a popular icon for CNY marketing campaigns that even luxury brands like Gucci have adopted it. 

Reworking your website and branding collateral to incorporate the Ox in your designs is a highly effective way to channel the festive spirit. In doing so, you’ll show your consumers that you care about the same things that they care about. An attractive limited edition Ox design on your products also will encourage sales, due to their dual ability to act as house decor and gifts.

But don’t stop at a CNY theme for your website and products. The effectiveness of custom ang pows (red packet) shouldn’t be underestimated, and they’ll never go out of trend. An eye-catching design is enough to drive brand awareness as these red packets are passed around every year during CNY.

Incorporate free ang pows with minimum spending, or hand them out with promo codes at the back. You could even have an evergreen and pow design by omitting the zodiac animal so that consumers can use it next year.

2. Get Lucky with Social Media

Shopee shows the lucky colours of every animal in the chinese zodiac for CNY 2021
Source: Shopee Facebook

One of the easiest ways to jazz up your social media feed is to incorporate posts about the Chinese zodiac and their lucky numbers, colours and elements. The idea here is to line up your references of the Chinese zodiac and relevant products to sell them as a package. 

Shopback’s “Huat is your Lucky Color?” is one such example. It informs customers of their lucky colour and the corresponding clothing items to buy. Your subsequent posts could be an #ootd style recommendation list for each colour.

What you should really think about here is how to work these into your brand’s distinct tone content tone. How can you make basic CNY superstitious taboos or even a comprehensive list of Li Chun dates fit into your brand’s feed, naturally?

If your objective is to get people to like and share your posts, these are sure to add value to your consumers. But don’t waste the opportunity to make your brand noticeable while you’re at it. And no, the solution isn’t to plaster your logo across all your posts.

3. Provide Useful CNY related Tips and Hacks

Watsons offers Singaporeans a CNY visitation timetable template in the wake of strict social distancing rules!
Source: Watsons Facebook

Chinese New Year preparations can be some of the most stressful times for many. The best way to connect with consumers is to be there for them. Perhaps you can help ease their way in the form of CNY guides and How-tos. 

You can start by creating guides to some of the top CNY search terms, such as “Quick and Easy way to Lao Yusheng”, “Easy Homemade Steamboat recipes” and “Simple Chinese New Year Greetings to Impress”.

Surely, you’re not alone in your CNY-related worries. So think of what stresses you out during CNY and what kind of listicles could help you, and then tie it back to your brand with a strong call-to-action (CTA).

It’s even better if you could package your CNY tips and quick hacks into video content.

80% of video marketers claim that video has directly increased sales, according to Wyzowl, which means you shouldn’t miss out on this chance to convert leads.

You could take past popular CNY blog content and repurpose them into videos. If Youtube formats feel like they might be too long for you, think smaller. Keep it short and sweet on Instagram or Tiktok to keep engagement high and increase shareability.

4. Don’t Stinge on Giveaway Contests

Part of Lazada's CNY campaign is a social media contest inviting followers to comment to win vouchers.
Source: Lazada Facebook

If there’s anything Singaporeans love more than sales, it’s gotta be freebies! The key benefits of giveaway contests are namely to grow your following, promote new products, generate brand awareness or to generate new leads.

Be thoughtful and creative with your giveaway! You could offer loyalty rewards, dining vouchers or even product samples. Even if it isn’t CNY themed, it has to be appealing enough to drive engagement.

But before diving into the appealing prospect of giveaways, also consider the relevance of the giveaway. If your content is not related to that of your giveaway, it’s likely that you’ll get a high follower drop-off rate. Losing followers is not something that looks good for your brand.

For instance, if you run a niche Facebook page for Ferrari fans in Singapore, a dining voucher giveaway might get you high traction. But you’ll likely later turn your new followers off with your geeky automobile content.

 5. Drive User Generated Content

Shopee does a witty pictorial representation of what CNY is like in 2021 - basically zoom gatherings and masking up!
Source: Shopee Facebook

Chinese New Year is a celebration of community spirit and there’s no better way to go about that than to share user-generated content.

92% of people more likely to trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising.

The heavy influence of word-of-mouth referral is hardly an overstatement. Much of the appeal of user-generated content actually comes from authentic reviews of your brand. In fact, 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts.

A hashtag campaign is one cost-efficient way to encourage user-generated content. It could be as simple as inviting followers to share a post that incorporated your festive product with a hashtag.

If you’ve got a good enough idea, you could even do a hashtag challenge on TikTok! With TikTok’s user-generated content focus and its growing popularity amongst Gen Z, there’s a higher chance for your challenge to trend and drive brand engagement.

You could also get consumers to leave indirect reviews. If you’re running a hashtag campaign or a giveaway, invite them to answer questions like these in their post – “A good reason why you want this badly!” or “Why can’t you live without this?”

This way you’ll get the best of both worlds – an authentic review and word-of-mouth referral!

6. Get Creative with Live Video Content

Giant shows steamboat ingredient combination for CNY reunion dinners.
Source: Giant Facebook

During last year’s Alibaba 11.11 Singles Day sales, live streaming accounted for nearly $3 billion USD of total sales!

In fact, 82% of people prefer live video from a brand over standard social media posts!

People love live video streaming for its authentic and non-scripted behind-the-scenes look at their favourite brands and influencers. The live QnA element also provides a much more personal way to interact with consumers.

If you’re thinking of hosting a Chinese New Year live stream, be sure to consider which platform to use. For example, Facebook will reach a more general audience while Instagram may have more Gen Zs tuning in.

As for your live stream content, don’t feel like you’re only restricted to product tutorials. You could host a surprise ang pao giveaway on the streets or hold a CNY auction for charity on Facebook Live.

If you have the resources, you could even collaborate with a KOL (key opinion leader) to do a social media takeover for the day!

7. Spotlight Your Company Culture

DBS and POSB reveal their Ang Pao designs for CNY 2021
Source: DBS Facebook

Chinese New Year is yet another opportunity to grow your company image. There’s plenty of ways to go about this. But on a base level, spotlight your company’s staff with a campaign that’s designed to humanise your brand.

You could do a video compilation of your staff members explaining what CNY means to them, or their heartfelt wishes for the new year. The end result doesn’t have to be heartwarming – I can imagine the one fella going “Huat ah! I wish for more money, can?” As long as the reactions are genuine, consumers and businesses alike may find your company relatable and more memorable.

And if you haven’t organised any corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects, now’s a good time to get started! Volunteering for underserved communities is one great way to give back to society. But with COVID-19 regulations in place, perhaps organising a donation drive or CNY charity auction might be better.

Share your company’s CSR efforts on social media and invite your followers to get involved.

#HuatSmart! Stand out with a memorable CNY campaign

Sure, not all of us have the budget for a large scale marketing campaign that’s complete with a tear jerker short film. But even with a small budget, there’s lots of creative ways to drive consumer engagement and brand awareness during Chinese New Year. 

Brainstorm a CNY marketing strategy using the above ideas or start small by thinking up a memorable hashtag to use!

If you need help getting your content marketing off the ground, let us help! When it comes to content strategy & creation, we’ve got the ideas and skills to back you up.

Talk to us now!

Author: Desiree Goh

Desiree is a fan of anything that promises a good story with interesting characters and set in a world more interesting than this one. Alternatively, she can be found crusading Tumblr with an arsenal of GIFs.

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