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.

Valentine’s Day – February 14
Although the Valentine’s Day that most of us are familiar with already falls right after Lunar New Year, many of the traditions associated with this day have caught on in China and it is now a fully-fledged consumer holiday among Chinese.

Chinese Valentine’s Day – May 20
May 20, shortened to 520 (wu er ling) sounds similar to “I love you” in Chinese and the day is celebrated as an unofficial Chinese Valentine’s Day. This day is a very recent invention by Chinese netizens and millennials.

Qixi Festival (Chinese: 七夕節) – August 28 this year
This is a traditional celebration of lovers which usually falls in August. The traditional myth behind the day is the celebration of the annual meeting of the star-crossed lovers – a cowherd and a weaver girl. Generally, international high-end fashion labels are the biggest believers in the Qixi Festival, reminding consumers at every chance that they best not forget to make a romantic gesture.

“Have you planned anything romantic with her yet?” automaker Jaguar queried its followers on microblogging platform Sina Weibo. If that blunt question doesn’t sound high-pressure enough, the brand then goes on to note that ‘Jaguar’ sounds like ‘marry me’ in Chinese, (jia gei wo 嫁给我), and provides advice on how men can use Jaguar to facilitate a special night and pop the question. Users who respond with their own proposals are entered to win a free dinner.

Singles’ Day or Guanggun Jie (Chinese: 光棍节) – November 11
Singles’ Day, with the date’s repetition of ones when written numerically (11.11), represents ‘bare branches’, a local expression for single men and women. Whether it is self-pity or an addiction to the gifting tradition, Singles’ Day does not judge! Yes, there is a day dedicated to celebrating your single self, with single Chinese spoiling themselves rotten and availing of the huge discounts many retailers offer for this one-day event.

When I said that they spoil themselves I really mean it.

In the first 5 minutes of Alibaba’s Single’s Day event last year, the company sold USD 1 billion worth of merchandise, closing the day with a total of USD 17.8 billion. That is only one website, and other companies have made record breaking figures reporting a 140 per cent increase of sales from the previous year. Mobile devices accounted for a staggering 82 per cent of sales.

Editor’s Note – Do check out House of Cards’ humorous take on Singles’ Day and T Mall.

So what is the opportunity for these love-themed days in Australia?
Australian marketers cannot ignore the enormous potential of marketing around these events to target Chinese consumers, particularly when one considers the astonishing growth of Chinese immigration in our capital cities. Brands that get involved stand to benefit enormously, as evidenced by Australian company Chemist Warehouse – a star performer last year. Sales were so strong that the shopping festival was blamed for a shortage that cleared the shelves of Australian supermarkets.

I encourage all Australian retailers to grab these opportunities and all Australian brands to have presence across digital platforms during these four love-centred holidays…

This blog was written by Marija Kovacevic, MultiConnexions’ Media Director who would gladly seize any chance to be part of a shopping extravaganza. In fact, she would also gladly size this opportunity for marketers and help them be a part of this marketing experience.

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