This article was written by Katrina Hall, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at MultiConnnexions Group, Australia’s leading multicultural and diversity marketing and advertising agency.
Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival) is upon us – a festival widely celebrated in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea, and their diaspora communities in Australia and around the world.
With over 1.5 million people in multicultural Australia celebrating Lunar New Year, it is a critical time for brands to target this huge audience – especially as many are stuck in Australia away from family due to COVID. There are lucrative opportunities for some sectors in particular:
- food and beverage – Lunar New Year feasting is a major part of the festival
- fashion – new clothes are a must-have to start the new year on a lucky step
- finance and property – wealth building is in focus at this time of year
- house and home – spikes in sales for cleaning products, new furniture and home improvements
- health and beauty – with increased social gatherings, people want to look and feel their best
- telecommunications – it is a peak period for calls, messages, and data usage as people call friends and family to wish them well
So how can a brand engage? Here are eight useful tips that Australian brands and organisations can implement to engage with Asian Australians celebrating Lunar New Year.
- Avoid stereotypes
Although cultural symbols are widely used during Lunar New Year and are an important part of the tradition, it is easy to overuse cultural symbols such as firecrackers, lanterns, red and gold etc. to the point of stereotyping. Looking too traditional can cause a brand to disappear into a sea of sameness. Do not be afraid to stand out from the crowd with a modern aesthetic that references tradition in a respectful and tasteful way. Being an authentic Australian brand joining in the celebrations is a good thing.
- Reach your audience on media they love
Platforms like WeChat and Weibo are hugely popular with Chinese and other Asian audiences in Australia. It is very easy and highly impactful to create an owned presence with your own brand’s social media platform or even leverage the power of third-party Australia-based media apps to reach your audience on platforms where they live and breathe. There are also a myriad of Chinese and other Asian-focussed websites that are hugely popular, and other types of media here in Australia that are an impactful way to target your audience.
- Harness the power of emotions
Just as we see with Australians celebrating Christmas, Lunar New Year tends to bring out lots of emotions in those celebrating. Positive emotional themes include family, togetherness, hope for a bright future and mending bridges. Your audience will tend to engage more with emotions, special offers and brand goodwill and well wishes rather than a hard-selling approach.
- Make the effort and be consistent
Our research shows that Asian Australians would like to see more Lunar New Year campaigns and promotions from Australian brands. Our research also indicates that Asian Australians are more likely to buy from brands that engage with them at Lunar New Year. Making the effort to be consistent with your audience makes it more likely that you will win hearts and minds.
- Employ cultural testing
It is not enough to have ‘the Chinese guy from the office’s’ views check your Lunar New Year campaign for you. From strategy to language nuances, imagery, media and more, there are a myriad of factors that impact the success (or failure) of your campaign and one person’s opinion – no matter how trustworthy – cannot provide the detail and level of rigour required. In many cases, the ‘token Chinese office guy’ is a second or third generation who is not representative of your audience. First generation and new migrants tend to be much more language dependent and culturally rooted. Cultural testing with a sample panel is an important step that can iron out any kinks in your campaign while still at the ideas stage.
- Keep your target audience at the core of your planning
Many multicultural media plans start from the premise that multicultural consumers are already exposed to the mass market media plan. This spill-over is sometimes real, however it glosses over a few important issues. Firstly, many Asian audiences are language dependent or may prefer to receive communications in their own language. Secondly, many mass market plans do not take into account cultural nuances and preferences and risk alienating (or offending!) the audience with a message that does not resonate.
- Decorate and celebrate
Local area marketing and in-store initiatives that feature decorative items such as lanterns, red envelopes and posters are a low-cost and impactful way to attract the attention of those celebrating Lunar New Year.
- Be inclusive
Chinese are not the only ones celebrating Lunar New Year. Including other audiences that celebrate is a great way to be inclusive and broaden your reach.
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