Perhaps the biggest and most significant of all the Chinese cultural holidays, Chinese New Year is one of the best times to show professional acquaintances your understanding and appreciation for Chinese culture. 2017 is the year of the Rooster, and will be celebrated on 28 January 2017.
Mindy Xu, Head of Business Development (Asia market) at World First, offers a quick explanation and 8 helpful suggestions for business owners looking to understand and leverage this annual celebration.
Why it is important
Determined by the old Chinese calendar, New Year is the main annual festival in China. It is just as important as the new year celebrated by the western world on 1 January except it celebrates the turn of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Additionally, each year is attributed to an animal from 12 year cycles of the Chinese Zodiac.
As mentioned above, 2017 is the year of the Rooster, and will be celebrated on 28 January 2017. Having said this, the full festival runs from 27 January to 2 February.
In 2018, year of the Dog, it will be celebrated on 16 February 2018 (with the festival duration going from 15 to 21 February).
For more insight into the cycle of zodiac animals and years, see here.
Chinese New Year is an important time to be with family, with people often travelling long distances to celebrate with one another and spend time together. The lead up to the celebration is filled with tradition with people cleaning their homes (to avoid cleaning on new year’s day and accidentally throwing away good luck), getting a hair cut the day before and displaying red and gold (lucky coloured) decorations around the house.
- 新年快乐（Xīn Nián Kuài Lè）(Mandarin)
- 恭禧發財 (Gung Hay Fat Choy) (Cantonese)
- Happy New Year!
What you can do as a business owner:
For those with Chinese business acquaintances based in Australia:
1. Use your brand:
Within families, elders offer red envelopes or red packets of money to children as an expression of good luck and affection. You can leverage this by planning ahead (in December) and ordering company branded red envelopes or packets and distribute them to your staff and gift them to suppliers or customers for their personal use.
It’s a great way to associate your company with this holiday and create general brand awareness. Ensure the envelopes are high quality paper and if you really want to impress, think about getting gold foil or embossing on them. You could also consider creating custom branded greeting cards or eCards to send, however while red is a lucky colour, do not use red ink to write in the cards as this is an indication you are severing ties.
Sales reps can make a point of dropping in to see business associates or clients either before the Chinese New Year day or not long after to personally offer new year greetings. If stopping in after New Year’s day, it’s fine to wish people a “Belated Happy New Year” as some people may not be in the office or be trading on the actual New Year’s day
If you’d like to bring or send a gift, you can make up a basket of Chinese rice cakes (niangao) and a selection of fresh summer fruit like kiwis, mangoes and cherries with a greeting card wishing your client or supplier a happy and prosperous new year. Include a few lucky red envelopes in the basket that they can use should they need some to fill and gift to their families and friends.
4.Don’t be shy about using social media or text:
Consider creating a social media graphic wishing your digital community a happy new year and posting on the day and if you have access to mobile phone numbers, sending a SMS is also a nice touch.
5.Make dinner plans:
You can make your professional connections feel important and establish trust and rapport by inviting them to a traditional Chinese restaurant during the new year period.
Do your research on authentic places to dine and once there, be sure to order fish and seafood (Food and toys shaped as fish mean “wealth” and “good fortune” and seafood is considered a luxurious delicacy). Arrive early and make sure you pay appropriate regard to seniority and rank. Senior company representatives should sit together and shake hands with each other first.
For those with Chinese business acquaintances overseas:
In many asian countries, Chinese New Year is the largest holiday of year and a majority of workplaces will close to allow employees to enjoy a break and some time off with their families. Businesses can be closed anywhere from 4-5 days to two or three weeks from Chinese New Year’s eve. It’s wise to contact your suppliers and clients well in advance (early January) and politely ask them if their office will be open and if so, if it will be business as usual or if it will be a time when only a few staff will be working. If you are told there will be delays or closures, it’s fine to ask when these may commence as some companies start slowing day a week or even two weeks before the holidays officially begin.
2.Organise your accounts:
For those with suppliers and clients based overseas, understand that businesses expect to be paid and have all of their accounts balanced prior to the new year. You can get on the front foot by making sure your account records are up to date and touch base with them to see if there is any way you can assist with making this process run more smoothly.
3.Send Well Wishes:
If New Year’s Eve and New Years Day falls on a business day, your Chinese clients and suppliers will not be at work but it’s a good idea to send your wishes that day anyway and this can be done on social media or via a SMS for immediacy (don’t forget to factor in the time difference in order to avoid sending your messages at an inappropriate hour!)
With China being a particularly important market for Australia, understanding this holiday can be key to strengthening relationships with your business partners and clients based in China, or even in Australia and other countries where it may also be celebrated.
Being able to leverage your knowledge of Chinese New Year will demonstrate to your suppliers and existing and prospective clients that you value their business and custom.
For more tips and articles on doing business around the world, follow World First on LinkedIn.
These comments are the views and opinions of the author and should not be construed as advice. You should act using your own information and judgement.
While information has been obtained from and is abed upon multiple sources the author believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy and it may be incomplete or condensed.
Please consider FX derivatives are high risk, provide volatile returns and do not guarantee profits.
All opinions and estimates constitute the author’s own judgement as of the date of the briefing and are subject to change without notice.