For the year of the Tiger, many luxury brands are deciding to court Chinese consumers on tiptoes. Caution is essential since marketing campaigns for this holiday have been often criticized for cultural appropriation and misinterpreting ethnic traditions.
Lunar New Year celebration is the most important holiday in the biggest luxury market. And, it is fundamental to get the marketing campaigns right. Are western companies doing their homework and investing time and resources in culturally understanding the Year of the Tiger? Are they releasing dedicated campaigns incorporating traditions and superstitions for 2022?
A Feline Design Muse
The tiger is the third animal of the 12-year cycle in the Chinese zodiac. According to the legend, the Jade Emperor challenged all the animals in the Kingdom to a race. The overconfident tiger was sure to arrive first but arrived third after the rat and the ox. The year 2022 will be about making big changes, risk-taking and adventure.
Fashion brands have been embracing the tiger as their new design muse by adding some Animalia, tiger stripes, and gold and red hues to their fashion and accessories. Gucci and Prada went a step further. They linked their capsule collections to a philanthropic cause donating a portion of their profits to programs protecting endangered species and their natural habitats. “Walking with Tiger and Leopard” and “The Lion’s Share Fund” are initiatives to raise awareness and protect biodiversity in China.
Meaningful Activations Resonating With China’s Netizens
The key for a successful campaign for Chinese New Year is to connect authentically with the customer on an emotional level with meaningful activations. Dropping celebratory capsule collections of the spirit animal is not enough. Netizens have high standards and appreciate when luxury labels pair content with actions.
To activate meaningful initiatives and avoid cultural missteps in 2022, brands should rely on their company’s local team for marketing decisions instead of the European headquarter. Events in the local communities, such as launching a contest asking art school students to interpret the tiger zodiac animal or consulting a Chinese artist to design a new print for a limited-edition collection, can result in winning strategies.
The Bottega Veneta installation at the Great Wall in support of the renovation and maintenance of the Shanhaiguan Pass was particularly thoughtful. It was a festive approach, perceived as a statement of cultural appreciation and exchange.
Gift Giving Etiquette For Lunar New Year
Chinese New Year is an opportunity to court your Chinese clientele with corporate gifts by creating a touchpoint with a prospect or client. The practice promotes a sense of connection with the giver and a positive association with the company.
My experience in luxury corporate gifts for Chinese New Year taught me how important and fundamental it is to educate yourself on gift-giving etiquette, cultural norms, traditions, bad luck gifts and symbolism.
For example, the color palette should be a combination featuring colors symbolizing wealth and prosperity in Chinese culture. Gifts should be in gold, red, yellow. Avoid white, blue and black — they associate these colors with death and funerals.
Keep in mind the luckiest of all the numbers in Chinese culture is number 8 and objects that suggest division and fragility such as scissors, knives and mirrors are considered bad luck.
During the pandemic, corporate gifting became a priority. Whether you intend to show appreciation, consolidate a business relationship or promote positive effects on the business outcome, corporate gifts generate strong emotions such as reciprocity and trust.
Key Takeaway For Celebrating The Power Of Mythical Creatures
Crafting a marketing campaign for Chinese New Year should be a way to add a unique twist to the celebration, share brand values, honor Chinese culture and connect through corporate gifts with valued partners and customers.