12 Key Dates for your e-Commerce & Marketing campaigns in China
Updated: Mar 11
January 20, 2022
As one of the most promising markets in the world, hundreds of entrepreneurs and international companies are trying to enter the Chinese market every day. In recent years, Chinese customers have shifted toward online platforms in order to purchase products instead of going to brick-and-mortar stores. Making up more than 50% of the world’s retail sales on the internet, China’s e-commerce is happening at a faster clip than anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, the COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated even more this phenomenon, increasing Chinese people’s dependence on their smartphones. So, it is clear that in order to succeed in China, you will have to focus on e-commerce, but you will also have to plan your marketing campaigns according to China’s festivals and specific events. In order to help you understand the importance of adapting and planning your marketing campaign beforehand, we have made this short article reuniting 12 of the most important events that every marketer should be aware of when doing business in China.
The 12 most important dates for FMCG brands in China
Why should you plan your marketing strategies depending on key dates?
In China, besides universal traditions like Mother’s or Father’s Day, and Christmas, China has its own holidays and festivals. They allow brands to launch promotional campaigns in order to attract as many consumers as possible. To explain the importance of these promotional campaigns, you have to know that Chinese consumers are particularly tempted to purchase products if they can benefit from discounts. So, you will have to plan which period and event is the most suitable to send vouchers and apply discounts.
Chinese society is benefiting from a growing purchasing power. Thus, people are able to afford and buy even more products, especially on e-commerce platforms. China is in fact the fastest growing country in the world in terms of e-commerce, registering a 44% growth as of 2020. However, if you want to be profitable and attract Chinese consumers, you will have to adapt your strategies according to events and festivals that are specific to China. By doing this, you will be able to increase your ROI.
Read also: China eCommerce Guide
Shopping Events and Holidays to Increase your ROI
For almost every kind of business in the world, the goal of a company is to increase its ROI (Return On Investment). However, as many companies have settled their business and expanded their activities in China, the competition is tougher than ever. In order to increase your ROI, you will not only need to be creative to stand amongst your competitors, but you will also have to take advantage of festivals like the 11.11 festival, which is one of the most lucrative days of e-commerce companies in China.
The 12 most important dates in China
1. Chinese New Year – Between January and February
The Chinese New Year is the most important event in China and also one of the biggest shopping festivals, comparable to our Christmas. In contrast to western countries that are using a solar calendar, China is using a lunar calendar. This period of the year marks the beginning of China’s holiday, which is a period during which they have to honor their household, heavenly deities as well as ancestors. It is also an opportunity to bring the family together for feasting. During the Chinese New year, almost everyone returns to their hometown in order to celebrate this particular day with their relatives.
Chinese New year – Grandma is giving Kids Hongbao
During the few weeks before the Chinese New Year there’s a rise in consumption as people buy presents and bring them to their family. Then, firms will begin to wind down their business a week or so prior to the first day of the festival.
To have an effective campaign for Chinese new year celebrations you need to start advertising early so that potential buyers know what products are available or promoted at some point between Christmas and when festivities begin.
Many brands use Chinese new year as an opportunity to show their understanding of the Chinese culture through thoughtful video clips and short movies, others for instance launch limited new years collections or packaging, while others have special discounts and vouchers.
Lyfen – Chinese snack – New Year Campaign 2020 - case study
Finally, you will have to ensure that you have a detailed schedule of opening and closing dates in advance, in order to organize and prepare your stocks of products. After all, Chinese New Year is also a particular time of the year for businesses in China, as it is the time to re-group, re-strategize, and re-staff for the new year to come.
The few last days of the Chinese holidays are also important because it is the Lantern Festival, which lasts for 4 days. It symbolizes a family reunion and people are able to release some lanterns in the sky.
2. Western Valentine’s Day – February 14th
Cartier – Wechat Campaign Valentine’s day Campaign
Even if China has its own Valentine’s day, young people tend to follow western countries’ traditional Valentine’s day. During this day, you will have to promote your products intensively, with colorful packaging, or you can also offer a product for one product purchased so they can give the other one to their loved one. You will also have to focus on social media, such as WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin, by promoting campaigns celebrating love and care.
3. Qingmingjie 清明节 (Tomb Sweeping Day) – Between April 4th – 6th
The Qingming Festival (translated as “Pure Brightness Festival”) is the day when Chinese families visit the tombs of their ancestors to clean the gravesites, pray for their ancestors, and make ritual offerings. Your marketing campaigns should start around the middle of March and you have to know that promotions involving travel-related packages are really popular during this period of time.
4. Labour Day – May 1st
The Chinese Labour Day is celebrated in China on the 1st of May. It started as just a day off but has become 5 days where people are able to spend time with their children, do shopping and other things for themselves or others who may not be so fortunate. The longer vacations typically correspond with an increase in consumption which benefits all sectors including retail stores that depend heavily on consumer spending.
5. Dragon Boat Festival – June 14th (as for 2021)
Starbuck Dragon Boat Festival – Localized Products Mirroring the traditional Snack eaten during this holiday in China
The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most important Chinese festivals as it celebrates the life of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese scholar. During this day, people eat Zhongzi (rice dumplings) and it is now common to give gifts. Gifts such as e-coupons, vouchers, high-tech products, and luxury products are highly popular. For example, you can create some WeChat H5 brochures with Zhongzi on them, and create mini-games allowing people to win prizes.