In 2022, the Chinese retail sales during Chinese New Year week (also referred to as Spring festival) reached 821 billion yuan or approximately $170 billion. Chinese New Year celebrations are becoming a greater opportunity for e-commerce businesses.
This year, spending could be even more than last. Spring Festival celebrations in 2023 are coupled with strict COVID-19 restrictions that have impacted consumer behavior as they have once again entered into a lockdown. With consumers unable to make in-person purchases in parts of China, eCommerce shopping is the go-to alternative.
In this article, we will give you the rundown of everything your eCommerce business needs to know about preparing for the Chinese New Year 2023. We will share knowledge about the dates, audiences who celebrate, and key marketing strategies that will skyrocket your eCommerce sales.
Get your dates right
The 2023 date for Chinese New Year is scheduled for 22nd January and will be the year of the rabbit under the zodiac cycle. You’ll need to have all your products ready to ship and available for order in the weeks and months before this date as consumers purchase ahead of visiting loved ones.
With COVID-19 also impacting manufacturing and disrupting the supply chain, it will be wise to prepare your eCommerce stock well in advance. There will also be factory closures in China and other Asian countries when celebrations begin taking place.
Know the audience
Chinese New Year celebrations differ greatly from New Year celebrations in the West. It's important for you to have a deep understanding of the celebrations and what they signify to ensure that your marketing messages resonate with your audience.
The Chinese New Year is a time of coming together, family gatherings, and good luck. Brands and advertisers often incorporate these concepts into their campaigns to create strong emotional messaging.
Additional Spring Festival messaging your brand can incorporate in your campaigns include references to the year of the rabbit, the colour red, food, a pair of mandarin oranges, and the traditional red packets known as hong baos which are often filled with money and given as gifts over the holiday.
Your eCommerce brand might also want to think about expanding your Spring Festival campaigns into other regions that celebrate the holiday. While China is the largest region celebrating the Spring Festival, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam all get in on the celebrations.
Find your customers in the right marketplace
Chinese New Year shopping often takes place online but SEA is a region where Amazon is a very small force. Your eCommerce store will need to plan its marketplace positioning and consider opening storefronts on SEA’s most popular eCommerce hubs. However, there is not one Amazon equivalent for the entire region. Each country has its own major marketplaces where you can list your stock.
Here are SEA’s biggest marketplaces you need to know about:
- China – Tmall, Taobao, AliExpress
- Malaysia – Lazada, Shopee
- Singapore - Lazada, Shopee, Amazon.sg, Amazon.com
- Indonesia – Shopee, Tokopedia, Lazada
- Philippines – Shopee, Lazada, Amazon.com
What types of products should you sell?
The popular product types at this time of year can vary widely from country to country. Last year, in line with the Winter Olympics in February, when Chinese New Year fell, demand for ski equipment rose by over 180% on Tmall compared with this time of the previous year.
Food products, however, are a popular gift every year during the celebrations. Last year, pre-made meal sales rose 345% on supermarket Freshippo and 100% on Taobao compared with the previous year.
Use the most effective channels and strategies
Once you have your products lined up and ready on their respective marketplaces, you then need to think about promotion. There are a variety of market channels you can use, but here are some of the most effective.
- Social media channels: Consumers and businesses wind down during the celebrations and spend more time ‘sitting back’ and watching or reading content.
- User-generated content: Seeing other users enjoying your products builds social proof with your audiences and entices them to buy.
- Video campaigns: You can get creative with your YouTube and short-form video content. This type of content can be used to drive sales and increase your brand awareness in these markets.
- Giveaways, prize draws, and limited-edition releases: These types of promotions help build hype around your products and fit in nicely with the theme of good luck that is often tied to the Chinese New Year.
Trade in renminbi like a local
Taking advantage of China’s booming eCommerce market can bring some challenges surrounding, among others, currency exchanges. Businesses that don’t facilitate payments in China’s renminbi may face losing business as customers struggle to understand the value of goods if prices are in currencies they’re unfamiliar with. Even if they do understand the exchange rate and value on offer, transaction fees remain an additional barrier to overcome. If you’re looking for an easy way to accept international currencies and move money around, WorldFirst can help.
WorldFirst is an international payments provider with nearly 20 years of experience in facilitating payments in and out of China — so whether you need to send money to suppliers or receive it from customers, WorldFirst has the solution.
Open a free World Account
- Open up to 10 local currency accounts without a local banking relationship
- Collect secure payments from 100+ marketplaces, overseas buyers and payment processing gateways
- Pay suppliers, partners and staff in 40 currencies without hidden fees
- Pay and get paid easily with local bank details on your invoices
- Lock in conversion rates to manage your currency risk
Disclaimer: 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. Whilst information has been obtained from and is based upon multiple sources the author believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy and it may be incomplete or condensed. All opinions and estimates constitute the author’s own judgement as of the date of the briefing and are subject to change without notice. Please consider FX derivatives are high risk, provide volatile returns and do not guarantee profits.