Chinese New Year: five themes in 2021

Date : 23 February 2021

Soo-Eng Tan

Senior Retail Analyst

Chinese New Year is the biggest annual trading event for many markets and retailers across Asia.  The pandemic has once again impacted celebrations. This year, retailers are more prepared for the complexity of complying with COVID-19 measures and changes in shoppers’ behaviour. We highlight the best-in-class execution from the Asia region and beyond

   1. Growing the eat-at-home opportunity

As people have been advised against travel and large gatherings, demands for meal kits have boomed. Many solutions have helped create a new stay-at-home banquet occasion this year.

For example, SEVEN FRESH (JD.com) has rolled out a wide range of meal kits for customers to cook at home. The range consists of local specialties, private label goods and premium seafood products, meeting different consumer needs.

Source: JD.com

2. Integrated online and offline promotions

Retailers are creating promotions that are available across channels to make shopping simple, safe and convenient. Time-limited promotions also encourage shoppers to increase purchase frequency as they pick up new bargains in each order.

3. Innovative digital marketing initiatives

Chinese New Year can usually be felt in the stores with loud music, sampling of snacks and the occasional lion dance. Many marketing events have been taking place online instead to spread cheer, inject some fun and provide inspiration.

Fortune telling is a big part of Thai culture. For every receipt over THB80 (US$2.60), FamilyMart shoppers can pick one of the four fortune tellers on LINE, one of Thailand’s most popular social media channel, for a reading.

Source: FamilyMart

4. Gifting boxes

Chinese New Year is a time for giving gifts to express respect and affection. This year, festive gift boxes are also a perfect way to wish good luck to friends and family members who cannot be together for the reunion celebration. Retailers have responded to this need by offering rich choices and versatile delivery options.

5. Ox-themed products 

2021 marks the Year of the Ox in Chinese astrology. It is generally considered a good year, as the animal represents strength, determination and honesty in Chinese culture. Some food, grocery, health and beauty brands have used the ox as inspiration and integrated it in their product or pack designs.

Handwash & sanitisers have become essential items owing to the pandemic. Lifebuoy added ox-designed sleeves on its sanitisers to help remind people to clean their hands before partaking meals over CNY gatherings.

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Read our in-depth report, Chinese New Year 2021, for more detail on each of these themes, along with further retail examples that bring them to life.