When properly executed, Chinese holiday marketing brings some of the highest revenue-driving times for brands. It can be the most preoccupied time of year for many marketers. As the year draws to an end our team is now focusing on planning for 2020. And there’s no better way for us to close out this year with anything other than sharing the upcoming special Chinese dates with you to help you gain a better understanding of the Chinese Marketing Calendar. If you have already planned your 2020 marketing strategy without including important Chinese holidays and events, there is still time to include them into your marketing plan. Follow this breakdown of the Chinese Marketing Calendar month by month to ensure your brand stands out and drive success during the most active Chinese shopping times of the year.
The Traditional Chinese Calendar
The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms, which basically summarizes the positions of the sun on the ecliptic. These terms and the different times of year have a great deal of meaning when marketing to Chinese consumers. Using solar terms and themes correctly during your calendar promotion can be very beneficial for your brand. However, not every brand will sync with every solar term. It’s important to understand the ones that work for you. Some of the most popular terms to consider during your promotion include Start of Spring (Chinese New Year), Pure Brightness (Qingming Festival), and Winter Solstice (Winter Festival).
Marketing Calendar 2020 for Major Holidays
Important Holidays in January
- 1stJan – New Year’s Day: January 1st is not really big when it comes to major shopping events and is way more important in Western culture, but millennials and gen-z are starting to celebrate New Year more and more. This can be a good opportunity to have a New Year promotion for customer loyalty appreciation that builds up to Spring Festival.
- 24th & 25th Jan – Spring Festival: Spring festival is one of the biggest festivals in China for family gatherings, similar to Christmas in the West. This celebration lasts for about two weeks, creating a big opportunity to market gift giving products. Last year, Starbucks got creative with their series of year of the dog cups. Traveling during this time has also been on the rise, so taking advantage of Mafengwo, Ctrip, and Dianping marketing would also be wise.
- Other key events to consider: Spring Festival Gala, Grammy Awards
Important Holidays in February
- 8th Feb – Lantern Festival: The lantern festival comes right after spring festival and lasts for 4 days. It symbolizes reunion and features an amazing lantern display. This festival would be a good time for brand awareness since a lot of influencers and consumers will not be paying attention to major campaigns around this time.
- 14th Feb – Valentine’s Day: Even though February 14th is a celebration of romance in the West, it has also picked up a lot of steam as a busy commercial holiday for Chinese consumers. Brands have the opportunity to promote campaigns celebrating love or promoting the idea of care. Burberry launched an online quiz about relationship insights and gave a special offer on their Valentine’s Day bag afterwards.
- Other key events to consider: Countdown to college entrance exam, Super Bowl, Oscars, NBA All-star Game
Important Holidays in March
- 8th Mar – Women’s Day: Women are the leading consumers of Chinese households and Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate female empowerment. Males also line up across the country to buy gifts for their loved ones. It’s important to note that Chinese Women’s day is more of a combination of Valentine’s and Mother’s day when it comes to gift giving. Campaigns across clothes, cosmetics, electronics and relaxation do very well around this time.
- 15th Mar – Consumer Rights Day: Many Chinese people watch “315” Gala, a TV program that highlights consumer rights, promoting education and integrity when it comes to spending money on brands. Brands such as Nike and Guess have been called out for misleading advertisements. Many brands care a lot about this day as it can be used to promote customer appreciation through genuine campaigns that offer after-sales service.
- Other key events to consider: Earth hour day
Important Holidays in April
- 4th Apr – Qingming Festival: April is a month of nostalgia and youth. For the Qingming festival (Tomb sweeping day) Chinese people get 3 holidays to commemorate their ancestors. Campaigns for this short holiday should start around the middle of March and promotions involving travel-related packages are popular around this time.
- Other key events to consider: April Fool’s Day, Spring Canton Fair Opening
Important Holidays in May
- 10th May – Mother’s Day: The marketing promotion opportunities to market on Mother’s Day are numberless. Your brand promotion can consist of marketing about things a mother might want or ways that family can show mother appreciation. If you want to make the most out of this day, you should start promoting 2-3 weeks before with emotionally inspired campaigns.
- 17th May – 517 Festival: 517 is a day for food lovers that translates over to “I want to eat” in Chinese. McDonald’s even incorporated the number into their online delivery service to attract the attention of Chinese consumers. It’s a great opportunity for any brand in the F&B industry to market their food services.
- 20th May – 520 Online Valentine’s Day: 520 literally translates over to “I Love You” and is one of the three Chinese holidays for promoting love in China. This day has become a symbol to show family love with an emphasis on moms. It’s an ideal time for brands where both men and women show appreciation for each other. Men are still the best audience to market to for gift buying.
- Other key events to consider: Labor Day
Important Holidays in June
- 1st Jun – Children’s Day: Children’s day has recently become a popular day for shopping. Promotions usually begin at the end of May and last up until the first week of June. It’s a good time to develop some 020 marketing for promoting board games, apparel, shoes and toys. Campaigns that focus more on Children bring more sales during this time.
- 25th Jun – Dragon Boat Festival: One of China’s traditional festivals that celebrates the life of the famous Chinese scholar, Qu Yuan. Eating Zhongzi (rice dumplings) and gift giving has become important parts of this holiday. Gifts such as coupons, e-vouchers, electronics, and luxury items are appropriate business gifts to give during this time. You could run competitions with prizes or incorporate your own version of Zhongzi in your marketing campaign.
- College Entrance Exam: The Chinese college entrance exam, also known as the Gaokao, is a huge opportunity to marketing in China. Brands tend to launch creative marketing campaigns with themes that include quizzes and exam scores. It’s also a good marketing approach for non-students since it’s a hot topic every year for most Chinese families. It also brings back memories from their time of applying to colleges.
- Other key events to consider: Father’s Day, CES Asia, 618 Shopping Festival
Important Holidays in July
- Graduation Season: Graduation starts right after the Gaokao and the Chinese student market is the largest in the world. Chinese parents and relatives will be looking for quality gifts to support their loved ones with their transition into the professional world. Other important themes to consider include friendship and having summer fun.
- Other key events to consider: 99th Anniversary of The Founding Party, Tokyo Olympics
Important Holidays in August
- 3rd Jul – Men’s Day: Unique to China, Men’s day has gained a lot of traction and can be used to offer discounts and special promotions specifically for men. All types of brands can capitalize on this day including cosmetics brands as male appearance is getting bigger in China.
- 25th Jul – Qixi: Qixi, also known as Chinese traditional Valentine’s Day, is the last holiday that represents love and romance of the calendar year. Chinese men are expected to send gifts to their significant other or a person that they are interested in. Couples often exchange expensive gifts and go to fine dining restaurants. Including personalized Valentine’s Day cards or romantic and cute elements would be relevant for attracting Chinese consumers.
- Other key events to consider: Dad’s Day, Closing of the Tokyo Olympics
Important Holidays in September
- 10th Sep – Teacher’s Day: Teachers and coaches have always been honored and respected in China. There are a lot of award ceremonies during this time where students give flowers and gifs to their mentors. You can take advantage of this holiday by emphasizing the value of learning, gratitude and giving back.
- Other key events to consider: Chinese Farmers’ Harvest Festival
Important Holidays in October
- 1st Oct – National Day: National Holiday, also known as Golden Week, is one of the longest Holidays in China outside of Spring Festival. This Holiday should emphasize the idea of travel to a higher degree. Brand campaigns should include lucky draw campaigns, promotional packages and travel related spending.
- 24th Oct – China Programmer Day: China has its very own Programmer Day on the 24th of October because it can be written as 1024, which is the highest power of 2. This can be a big day for brands that sell electronic products or want to execute promotions that target the programmer industry.
- Other key events to consider: Mid-autumn Festival, Halloween
Important Holidays in November
- 11th Nov – Single’s Day: Single’s Day or Double 11 is the biggest shopping event in the world and continues to break records year after year. It has become a social event and your brand should pay special attention for marketing on this day. It’s recommended to start planning your marketing goals and inventory a few months in advance. Creating personalized shopping experience and promoting products centered on self-love are some good strategies to use.
- Other key events to consider: Black Friday, Thanksgiving
Important Holidays in December
- 12th Dec – Double 12: Double 12 is similar to Double 11 and many Chinese consumers flock to buy some last minute deals and gifts before the year is over. It offers a great opportunity to run campaigns centered on discounts, free shipping and customer appreciation for supporting your brand throughout the year.
- 21st Dec – Winter Solstice: The 22nd solar term of the year is an important time for Chinese citizens. Families come together and celebrate through tradition, food and gift giving. You can take advantage of this holiday by having a winter solstice theme for your marketing promotion.
- 24th Dec – Christmas: Christmas is not a traditional Chinese holiday, but has received popularity in recent years amongst the younger generation. Campaigns for Christmas should not be too expensive. Also, fashion and apparel related campaigns do well around this time. It is recommended to try to make your campaigns creative and trendy to attract young consumers.
- Other key events to consider: Marketing plans for next year
Every Chinese holiday and special event is a chance for you to build brand awareness and drive sales to your product and service. Once you have an understanding of the 2020 holidays and festivals in China, start working on a plan for dates that are most relevant to your brand. Timing and personalization goes a long way with Chinese consumers, so take everything you’ve learned in this post and market to Chinese consumers the right way in 2020.