A beginner’s guide to Holi – the Festival of Colours – 10 questions answered


MultiConnexions PR & Social Media Manager, Katrina Hall looks at the fun-filled festival, and wishes all a Happy Holi filled with the colours of joy and happiness.

1. What is Holi?

The Holi Festival of Colours (also called Holi, Holika and Phagwa) is celebrated the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna (early March). It is a day to mark spring, honour some events regarding Prahlada in the Hindu faith, and a time to disregard propriety and social norms and have a bit of fun!

2. When is Holi this year?

This year, the festival will likely be falling on Friday the 2nd of March, 2018.

3. What is the story behind the festival?

The story goes that Lord Brahma granted the haughty Demon King Hiranyakashipu virtual invincibility – and with his new powers, Hiranyakashipu arrogantly proclaimed himself a God. However, his son took issue with this and rebelled against him – thus enraging Hiranyakashipu who immediately ordered his son to be killed.

Many attempts were made in vain to carry out the murder. In desperation, Hiranyakashipu ordered Prahlada to be burned on a pyre along with his sister Holika, little knowing that Holika had been given immunity from fire by Lord Brahma.

Flames began to lick Prahlada and Holika – but the devout Prahlada prayed to Lord Vishnu to save him from the burning flames and, hearing the prayers, Lord Vishnu granted him mercy, while the fire consumed Holika. Alas, Holika did not know that her immunity worked only when she entered the fire alone!

Prahlada felt sorry for Holika and named Holi festival after her. Today, this story represents the end of pride and the day after the Holika bonfire is celebrated as Holi.

4. Who celebrates Holi?

Holi is widely celebrated in India, Australia and around the world by Hindus, Sikhs, some Jains, Newar Buddhists and other non-Hindus. Indians, and many other new audiences, are deeply rooted in their culture and this is a special time for them.

5. How do people celebrate Holi?

On the eve of Holi, a pyre is lit for Holika. The ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil. People gather around the fire to sing and dance and may offer raw coconut and corn to the fire. The next morning, fun begins again in earnest with something akin to a high-stakes water-fight! Friends, family and strangers alike throw coloured powder, coloured water and coloured paint/ dye around in an atmosphere of frivolity and humour. The end results are a riot of colour and a truly unforgettable spectacle.

As one Holi festival attendee put it last year, “When we’re covered in colours, our differences no longer matter.”

6. Are there any traditional foods, clothes, or symbols on the day?

Holi is all about colour, so it’s probably best to wear clothes you don’t mind getting ruined! Aside from that, sweet dumplings (dahi vada), a condensed milk slice (barfi) and fried fritters (pakora) are popular Holi treats. Obviously, visiting family and friends is a very important part of Holi.

7. What happened on Holi last year around the world?

Utah is home to the largest Holi festival in the world outside of India. Australia, the UK and many countries also host amazing celebrations – both organised and informally. Holi has also inspired some fantastic celebrations around the world, including Florida’s Life in Color, the Netherlands’ Mumbai Color Festival, Holi One in South Africa, and Colorjam Music Festival in Texas among many others.

8. What can we expect this year?

This year Holi certainly promises to be bigger and better than ever, as more and more people are beginning to celebrate.

9. Is Holi marked in Australia? What events are there this year?

Australia’s South Asian community marks Holi in style, with a series of fun activities around the country – focussing particularly on Sydney and Melbourne, where most of our Indian diaspora reside. Celebrations around the country include Blacktown Holi Mela, Keysborough Holi Mela, Holi Mahotsav in Darling Harbour Sydney, Rockdale Colour Festival, Holi Mela Parramatta, Melbourne Holi Festival St Kilda, Wyndham Holi and Springfield Holi Festival in Brisbane to name but a small sample.

Such events are increasingly attracting the attention of major Australian brands looking to harness the goodwill during Holi, and target messages to the crowds of attendees via goodwill initiatives.

10. What is the marketing opportunity during Holi?

In addition to the above mentioned festival/ sponsorship marketing opportunities – for many brands there are many other terrific marketing opportunities to be tapped into during this period.

For example, during Holi many Indians choose to give their home a thorough spring-cleaning – often redecorating and disposing of old items. This means a great marketing opportunity for the retail sector with additional sales generated of household goods, clothing and more. It is a time when many Indians look at property investments and even changing their homes for a larger and better one.

Holi is also a wonderful time for marketers to integrate festive greetings into advertisements and marketing initiatives to capture the attention of enthusiastic people celebrating Holi.

8 of the best: Lunar New Year marketing campaigns with lots of bark and plenty of bite

Lunar New Year – it’s the most special time of year for the estimated 1.5 billion people that celebrate it. And this year, marketers worldwide have rolled out some top-notch marketing initiatives to tap into the increased spending, goodwill and opportunities during this time.

The life of a Chinese Daigou

chinese-daigou

Meet Jenny

Jenny – 47 – works full time at a bank, but has been boosting that income by hitting the shops after work and on weekends. She puts in an additional 20 hours a week sourcing products like skin care, health supplements, breakfast cereals and chocolate products. Jenny knows that there is a big demand for these items in China.

She started off working as a Daigou by default, as her family in China were always requesting items to be posted back to them. They thought the quality of Australian products are better than China, and as time went on, word spread like wildfire. Her reach went beyond her immediate family and friends to a wider network in China – her WeChat followers increased by the day.

From there, business exploded to where she was earning AUD 2000 each week. Jenny posts images of products on her personal social media, WeChat, offering to purchase Australian products in-store for her clients and post them to China.

Demand for Australian products

Some of the products Chinese buyers are looking for are only available in Australia.

Some products, like baby formula and some health care products, are subject to Australia’s stringent safety regulations – making them highly appealing to Chinese consumers.

To alleviate safety concerns regarding China-made products, consumers are looking to Australian Daigou to help them find alternatives.

Trust is the key to good sales in China, and Daigous are often highly trusted. “Word of mouth plays an important part of Daigou activity,” Jenny said. As Jenny walks into a pharmacy, preparing to fill her basket with health supplements and skin care products, she will Skype with her friends, family’s friends and friends’ friends in China from her phone. She said video calls with clients are crucial when purchasing items, to prove that the products are genuine as they are from a legitimate store.

Since joining MultiConnexions as a Client Servicing Executive, I can see the huge potential of utilising the Daigou market for our clients.

Chinese consumers depend heavily on product recommendations from online reviewers. Peer reviews that they read on social media are very important when it comes to making a purchase decision.

In particular, WeChat, the most widely used chat app in the Chinese community, has opened up great opportunities for multicultural marketers. Sharing feedback and recommending products to friends has become substantially easier, due to the fact that the app allows sharing on a platform that is more private in nature between individuals and small groups. The Chinese community generally will only take the step to purchase a product after getting consent from their peers via social media and ecommerce forums. Hence, the most popular Australian exporters to China aren’t the brands – they’re the relationships and the unique marketing initiatives that Chinese enjoy.

5 Daigou Facts

1. Daigou are often entrepreneurial Chinese students living in Australia or Chinese visitors, who wish to send a number of Australian products back to China.

2. In China, the most-searched keyword on the web associated with Australia is Daigou.

3. Popular products among Daigou: Baby milk formula/powder, medications, health supplements, body lotion, face lotion, hand cream, body wash.

4. Reasons the market exists:

High quality, well known Australian brands
Fear of non-genuine Chinese products
Expensive retail price in China compared with Australia

5. It is widely acknowledged that there are between 40,000 to 60,000 Daigous in Australia advertising Australian products on WeChat, Weibo or C2C e-marketplaces in China.

Today, as a MultiConnexions team member, we help our clients to adopt the most appropriate strategy on a grass-root level to target various multicultural and diaspora audiences.

We can utilise WeChat social media platform to its fullest, increasing your brand’s exposure, in order to target buying agents and generate new business opportunities.

Whether it is setting up a client’s official WeChat account, creating unique and culturally tailored content, organising interactive competitions to increase your followers, or having our creative team to design artworks for display advertising, we know how to reach the hearts and minds of Chinese customers.

If you have a product, we have the answer.

This blog was written by Anabelle Yong, MCX’s Client Servicing Executive – a.k.a. Anabelly, the food lover.

Rich media, social media

Once upon a time (well, actually just about ten years ago), YouTube was the go-to home for rich media, and it largely consisted of video, Java, audio, and vector graphics. The phrase ‘rich media’ was not yet widely known or used, but its potential had already begun to catch the eye of marketers and advertisers.

Fast forward to today and rich media as we know it – like Pokémon – has evolved. It is travelling all over the nooks and crannies of the interwebs in a quest for bigger and better things. Like selfies, rich media has found a comfortable new home on social media and it is there that is screaming for attention to all who are willing to listen.

The business of love

Yes, I know Valentine’s Day has come and gone but I promise this blog is not about actual love. Those who consider the prospect of finding the perfect present a challenge should be glad they don’t live in China – which has not one, not two, not three… but FOUR love-centred holidays that come with the expectation of gifts. Whether you love or hate these traditions, brands are embracing the notion of love in marketing and reaping the rewards. Why? Because love means big business!

Let me break it down.

Little Red Book

While the term Little Red Book in China may previously have brought Chairman Mao’s book of the same name to mind, today’s Chinese may associate it with something altogether different.

Little Red Book – the go-to online retailer for overseas luxury goods

Little Red Book – Xiao Hong Shu in Chinese – is an app that has attracted over 17 million consumers and $200 million in annual merchandise sales in just 3 years. Things don’t look to be slowing down, with the company recently having raised $120 million from major investors such as TenCent and ZhenFund.

Something to crow about in the Year of the Rooster

Lunar New Year is one of the busiest times for MultiConnexions (MCX), as there is often a flurry of work as our clients seek to target audiences of Chinese and other Asian backgrounds during a time when they are very receptive to positive messages.

The 2017 Lunar New Year was one of the most memorable for me, as I was heavily involved with the research and implementation of activations and events for our clients, Medibank and Telstra. It was also memorable as recently I had started to embrace Chinese culture more, starting to learn Mandarin at University of Sydney, as well as trying more Chinese cuisine (hotpot being a new favourite).

Five Tips for Engaging Multicultural Diasporas this Festive Season

Australia’s multicultural environment is no secret, and marketers cannot afford to ignore the spending power of ‘new audience’ Diasporas.

This Festive Season, connect with ‘new audience’ Diasporas and tap into their enormous marketing potential by tying in with cultural festivities.

5 Ways to Create Meaningful Engagement with Multicultural Audiences

Multicultural audience events are intrinsic to the life of every migrant in Australia, along with their children and their children’s children. Whether you speak a language other than English, were born overseas or have ancestral roots in another country – the link to culture is one that continues to thrive (no matter how long you’ve lived in Australia). Using cultural insights to effectively engage with these audiences, at the grass-root level, can be the difference between simply reaching them, versus giving them a reason to believe in your brand or product.

Why Chat when we can ‘WECHAT’?

I moved to Australia in February this year. The first thing I did after getting off the plane is asking the airport security if there is an app people use to book cabs. The security guy was slightly puzzled and said, “Well I guess there are, but there are taxis waiting over there. You don’t need an app.” So I asked him to recommend a few to me anyway for future reference but he couldn’t think of any. However he was kind enough to give me a number to call.

This came as a shock to me.  Back in Beijing, calling for a taxi is virtually non-existent. Even my grandpa has a Didi or Uber app. I then turned to my most trusted source of information center, WeChat and Weibo, to get to the bottom of this mystery. After posting a question within the day, I got all the information I needed regarding the best apps and websites.