Chinese New Year has changed greatly over the 20 years since the government first introduced a holiday period and it continues to evolve in ways that brands need to consider if they are to take advantage of what is now the country’s biggest annual occasion.

Writing in the current issue of Admap (topic: smart approaches to occasion marketing), Lin Liu, Chief Strategy Officer at UM China, points out, that it was only in 1999, in a move designed to transform a nation of savers into consumers, that the government gave an obsessively hard-working people a mandatory break so they could pause to “savour the fruits of their labour and be with their families”.

Ever since, how people in China spend their Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday has been intricately linked to the changing fortunes of the nation – and Liu identifies three current trends she believes will have lasting influence.


One is the growing importance of second-tier cities: interior cities like Chengdu, Xi’an, Suzhou and Zhengzhou have developed a role as regional growth drivers and are attracting the sort of talent that once migrated to the coastal megacities.

One effect of this is that the annual movement of millions of people to meet up with family at CNY is increasingly likely to be to these cities rather than away from them. “Many of the implants aren’t going home but hosting family reunions in their new ‘home cities’,” says Liu.


The nation’s demographic profile has also altered over the past two decades. In 1999, 18-35 year olds made up 35% of China’s population; in 2018, this segment had dropped to 27%.

That, coupled with the distribution of wealth among different cohorts, is reshaping family dynamics. Gen Z might be the poorest cohort since the reform, but it has the richest parents, Liu observes.


China’s tech giants have successfully leveraged CNY to introduce new tech applications, including visual search, mobile gaming, and mobile quiz games, but transformation isn’t just limited to the little screens; cinema screens and DOOH are standard for even small towns, a development that is transforming media planning.

What it means for marketers

• If Singles Day is about bargains, CNY is about “the best of the class, the limited edition, and value add”.

• China isn’t a homogenous country; the best marketing is rooted in regional differences and tensions, and increasingly in the CNY occasion.

• Brands have an opportunity to work with the tech giants to co-invent CNY projects to create new behaviour.

For more details, read the full article: Aligning Chinese New Year with China's new forces of change. This issue of Admap on smart approaches to occasion marketing features a series of eight articles. WARC subscribers can access a deck which summarises the expert advice from contributors and key considerations on the topic.

Sourced from Admap