By Marco Passoni
Chinese New Year has become one of the biggest retail opportunities of the year. It is a time when the Chinese travel and shop in great quantities – and before the pandemic it was a vital period for travel retail and luxury alike.
This year, with almost 12 months gone since the restrictions were eased in China, and with suggestions that travel numbers are poised to recover to 2019 levels within 12 months, the arrival of the Lunar New Year is once more a big moment for brands. But the shopper demographics and demands coming out of China are different than they were in 2019 – as they are around the world.
As I look at the activations and collections which are being announced to mark the arrival of the Year of the Dragon, it seems that many of the best are looking beyond holiday ornaments and pretty packaging to create products and experiences which go further. These are offers which tap into the demand for a stronger lifestyle offer, which promote local collaborations, and create evergreen items which are crafted for the holiday, not off the back of it.
Here are a few of the best that I have seen.
Moet Hennessey Travel Retail Campaign
Showcased in Melbourne, Zhuhai, Taiwan and Macau, tapping into Chinese travellers’ preference for Asia Pacific as they return to travel, this striking activation makes good use of space in the airport to create a stunning visual which brings the brand’s world to life. Collaborating with artis Yang Yonglang, it blends traditional with contemporary, but using digital to make an omnichannel experience, tapping into shoppers’ need for a world they can fully inhabit.
Located in Korean downtown duty-free hub of Shinsegae’s Myeongdong store, this is another example of using space well to create a piece of the brand world for shoppers. Working alongside Brand Ambassador Jackson Wang, Armani has put human engagement first, with staff on-hand to help and support shoppers on their journey – a key focus despite some people’s predictions during the pandemic. The creation of a limited edition gifting offer means this is not just paying lip service to the holiday, but offering something for the occasion.
Crafting a true experience, Bulgari has teamed up with artist Pan Hu, who has created a painting to mark the start of the Year of the Dragon. A behind-the-scenes film of the creative process generates content which gives consumers a window into the brand, making a collaborative and engaging space which suits the demands of the modern shopper. Bulgari’s offer truly looks beyond the holiday with its other creations – a Serpenti Dragon collection which offers jewellery that goes beyond simple holiday trinkets.
This is another great collaboration from Fendi, which is demonstrating a great understanding of how to leverage partnership to create something fresh and exciting for shoppers. The Pokémon bags reflect the arrival of the Year of the Dragon through the characters chosen, but will be timeless additions to any collector, or shopper’s wardrobe.
The Paris is Home campaign uses Polaroid photos to speak to the emotion of the occasion, rather than the usual icons. By recalling the ideals of togetherness and home, which suit the thousands of Chinese who travel every year for the Lunar New Year holiday, this creates great resonance and an emotional connection for shoppers. Customers want brands who they feel understand them and this is a great example of doing that well.
Another great example of putting the holidays into something which lasts longer than the celebration. This new collection infuses Lunar New Year icons into the brand’s timeless and iconic designs. The Chinese symbols of the dragon, blossoms and birds are all integrated into this pair of sneakers, without losing that famous Golden Goose style.
Getting Chinese New Year right is a big ask for many brands, especially as some are still working out how to engage shoppers and travellers in this new normal. But as these examples show, getting it right means doing much more than putting icons on a box. As always, branding, storytelling and innovation are what sets the best apart from the rest.