Christmas is a relatively new phenomenon in China, and is mostly acknowledged in the larger, urban cities such as; Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangzhou.
It was introduced in the 16th century by Christian missionaries, became popular in the 1920s, but in the 1950s, the Communist government ceased the Western, ‘bourgeoisie’ celebration. Nowadays, the Christmas spirit is indeed alive and well in China, and the growing middle class have especially taken to it. It’s not a Christmas you would recognise though. As with most things, it’s a Christmas with Chinese characteristics.
You’ll give and receive thoughtfully wrapped, ribbon-tied…
Apples. Known as ‘ping guo’ in Mandarin, the word for apple sounds very similar to Christmas Eve, ‘ping an ye’. A fairly new tradition and exclusive to the Chinese, friends and family give ‘peace apples’ to one another on Christmas Eve to signify safety and health for the coming year. Apples can be bought packaged in bright paper and ribbon, or in fancy boxes with festive motifs such as Christmas trees or hearts. Although apples are the gift of choice, other presents such as toys, clothing and chocolates are given amongst loved ones.
IT’LL ALL BE PLANNED, EXECUTED AND DOCUMENTED WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas in China if it wasn’t shared on social media for all to see. For the youth, it is very important to post photos about what you’re doing, who you’re with and where you are. Christmas gatherings are promoted and organised on WeChat. Plans are shared on Weibo and Weixin, and the Chinese will follow their favourite brands for the latest word on Christmas promotions. However, unlike in the West, where Christmas begins creeping up in September, don’t expect any buzz about the holiday until the week leading up to the big day.
DIGITAL MARKETING IS YOUR SHINING STAR
Like every Christmas tree, your brand needs a star to help it shine, and this is the role digital marketing will play. With over 618 million Internet users in China, and 80% on mobile, it is vital to utilise mobile social networks as a key medium for your marketing. Fifty-five per cent of Chinese netizens are younger than 30, and since they are the largest Christmas participators and most active social media users; they are your prime audience. They are connected all the time, with mobile being their primary tool for communication and entertainment. Take to WeChat and Weiboto spread some cheer. These microblogging platforms are optimised for easy interaction and sharing, and you can reach an extensive, diverse crowd who love to talk and share. Douban, PaPa and Wanpai carry a more devoted, enthusiastic following and these users exist as communities formed around mutual interests. Encourage engagement around festive discussions, and let your followers know what they might expect from your brand this Christmas. Listen to your responses to make sure that your brand is interacting in the optimal way.
Don’t miss out on celebrating Christmas with your Chinese consumers, as they will be eager to participate in the festivities. Their engagement will be the greatest gift you can give to your brand.