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How Some Luxury Brands Are Navigating Chinese New Year

After a rocky few years for luxury and sports brands in the Chinese market, we take a look at some luxury brands’ marketing for Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival. In 2020, the year of the rat, there is a noticeable sense of treading water lightly – not diving right into cultural tropes but always acknowledging the Chinese festival to some extent. It is possible to run a sensible campaign but it requires good insight and the confidence that a brand won’t “other” Chinese consumers and culture.

For starters, trendsetter of scents Jo Malone haven’t done anything too over the top but have put red and gold labels on a select few products. Their Tmall homepage wishes shoppers a “lucky (red) New Year, flowing with sweet scents” but all their other product listings are business as usual. Besides one Weibo post with the same slogan, their Chinese social media platforms have been rather quiet on the topic of the Spring Festival.



This isn’t a bad strategy in this day and age: Western brands increasingly get criticised by Chinese consumers for thinking that they can paint anything red to boost sales during the holiday. At the same time, they’re acknowledging the New Year and letting Chinese consumers know that their culture matters.

Compare this to Alexander McQueen, who have indeed made a lot of red clothes. The motives are clear in their WeChat article wishing Chinese readers a happy Spring Festival. However, they are positioning the move as more than just a holiday. The rich red apparel (see image below) is only a part of their whole Spring Summer Pre Collection. It seems at once to be exclusively for the Chinese market and not at all.