Moon Festival Insights

The Moon Festival is a traditional celebration of the Autumn harvest and celebrated by the Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities.

According to Chinese legends a Moon Maiden appears on the 15th night of the 8th lunar moon in the year. Upon this magical occasion, children who make their wishes to the Moon Maiden will find their dreams come true. Chinese families get together, watch the beautiful full moon and eat moon cakes. Moon cakes are pastries with sweet fillings of red bean and lotus seed paste, and are exchanged as gifts.

The Great Mooncake Exchange

Over the past two weeks, our agency has definitely been marked by a spirited enthusiasm as we approach one of the busiest periods in the business calendar – Autumn Moon.

One thing that noticeably stands out is the constant ring of the doorbell. More often than not, it is representative of another delivery of rectangular or round pastries measuring about 10cm in diameter, filled with a thick lotus seed paste and surrounded by a thin crust containing yolks from salted duck eggs.  These traditional Chinese pastries are commonly known as ‘Mooncakes’.

Regardless of how many years I have now witnessed this gifting practice, it continues to be a most interesting phenomenon. To give you a bit of background – the Autumn Moon festival originated in China and is also a celebrated festival in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Vietnam. The Mid-Autumn Festival is an important holiday in the Chinese calendar, second only to Chinese New Year. Traditionally on this day, Chinese family members will gather together to enjoy the full moon, celebrate the harvest season and eat moon cake together. Of all the celebrated Chinese festivals, the Autumn Moon it seems holds special significance due to its capacity to unify friends and family. Highly concentrated Asian suburbs all seem to be alive and abuzz with many frequenting entertainment hot spots and restaurants.

Chinese bakeries are also working round the clock, trying to keep up with the incessant demand for mooncakes. These traditional pastries are purchased and gifted in the thousands. Companies to clients, families to friends, neighbour to neighbour; for a fortnight the beautiful boxes circulate freely, ending up in office boardrooms and family homes right across the country.

Now, the funny thing is, as far as I have ascertained, most people rarely eat more than half a mooncake at one go. Rather, they are seen as a small, rich bite, symbolic of a time to share in one another’s health and happiness. 

In addition, these days it seems they serve as legal tender of the ‘Face Market’ more so than a yummy treat. Failing to give and receive the appropriate amount and value of mooncakes before the Autumn Moon is akin to a social loss of face “But they gave us such a huge box, and it was from XYZ. We MUST send a better box in return”, are the type of remarks commonly heard in social circles. Everybody knows the price of the major brands, so this “face currency” is as reliable as a diamond from Tiffany. The culmination of all this is that most families end up with a surplus of Mooncakes. This is not in itself a bad thing; however, when you commit to a serious plan to shed a few kilos before the season of sun, sand and surf, it could drastically nullify all weight loss efforts.

The whole season, therefore, turns into a furious race to gift their mooncakes before the Autumn Moon is gone and they lose all their social value. I like to call it ‘The Great Mooncake Exchange’ – a wonderful period of social gift-giving in an effort to win the affection of and show gratitude to family, friends and business associates alike.

Like I said – it’s a phenomenon that never ceases to amaze me and is as intriguing as it is peculiar. For when that doorbell rings, you never quite know just what kind of mooncake is going to be waiting for you – from green tea and red bean to sesame.

Drop by our offices in the next two weeks and you’ll be sure to indulge in this wonderful experience. As a matter of fact, I think I hear the doorbell now.

By Daniel Assaf

Image source: http://www.socwall.com/images/wallpapers/34537-2560×1600.jpg

Redefining Multiculturalism – Learning from US Census 2010

A new multiculturalism is evolving and will change the face of advertising as it has started doing so in the US, a country marked and characterised by migration and multiculturalism. Multiculturalism has always pointed a finger at the minority. In the advertising industry it is treated as something not necessarily equal to but different from the majority.

The latest release of US Census 2010 information, revealed that Asian Americans with a
population of only 15 million have a total buying power larger than the GDP of countries such as
Egypt (Population 82 million), South Africa (population 49 million) or Columbia (population 45 million).
Asians in America have the highest average income among all racial or ethnic groups including white Americans.

The very definition of being an American is going through a profound change says Tim Wise author of the book White Like Me.

US experts such as David Burgos and Ola Mobolade in their recently launched book `Marketing to a New Majority’ warn of consequences of ignoring this market. The book states that “the business implications of this new normal are enormous. To stay relevant to consumers now and in the near future, brands need to re-think the way they do business. Ethnic consumers have become an integral part of the so called general market or mainstream, and are truly reshaping it. Brands must make ethnic segments an integral part of their overall business strategies if they want to remain viable and grow”.

The good news is that the US marketers are much more aware of the significant opportunity that the varying demographic groups present and realise that they can no longer afford to neglect the combined buying power of ethnic Americans who, according to estimates, make up US$1.3 trillion of all U.S. buying (source: www.americanmulticultural.com). So, to appeal to these highly lucrative and diverse audiences, many marketers are abandoning traditional mass-marketing practices in favour of tightly-focused, multicultural marketing efforts.

Wells Fargo is one of the pioneers in Multicultural Marketing in the US. Wells has worked on product development, channel strategies and communication strategies for multicultural audiences and the rest of the US banks and other marketers are fast catching up.

The ethnic diversity in the U.S. is reflective of a global landscape. It is important for Australian marketers to fully understand cultural differences, language treatments and purchase-drivers and to integrate those variations into their everyday marketing strategies and tactics. Tapping on direct translations from a lone office member who knows the language is not enough. It needs to follow the processes and systems as one would do for the mainstream audiences. Perhaps Census 2011 will shed more light on Multicultural Australians and invite marketers to think outside the square of converting multicultural audiences to a mass of faceless data.

By Sheba Nandkeolyar