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China’s cultural traditions: Dragon Boat Festival – one of the big four

China’s cultural traditions: Dragon Boat Festival – one of the big four

Dragon Boat Festival is one of four main Chinese traditions. If you have been to China during this period, it is hard to miss. You would notice the decorations, gift-giving, as well as an increased level of traveling, mainly within the country.

In 2022, the Dragon Boat Festival will take place on Friday the 3rd of June and last until Sunday the 5th of June, these three days are also public holidays in China.

The Dragon Boat Festival


The Dragon Boat Festival has many different names, some sources claim up to 20 different. In Mandarin, the festival is called Duanwu Jie or Longzhou Jie, it can also be referred to as the “Double Fifth Festival”, or as we call it here – The Dragon Boat Festival.
 
The reason for the name “Double Fifth Festival” is precise because the festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.
 
The Dragon Boat Festival is not only a tradition in China, it is also celebrated in many other parts of Asia, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore.

The history behind The Dragon Boat Festival

There are many different explanations and stories about the origin of The Dragon Boat Festival. The most common and popular one today is the story about the poet and politician Qu Yuan.

Qu Yuan, who lived in China from 340-278 BC, was popular among the people for his rightfulness and honesty. But in desperation of an ongoing war, he chose to take his own life by throwing himself into a river. The locals tried to save him by reaching out to his body with small boats.  Unfortunately, they came too late and his life couldn’t be saved. To protect his body, they throw Zongzi, hit with oars and drums to lure away and disturb fish from eating out of his body.

How to celebrate The Dragon Boat Festival?

Two strong traditions associated with the Dragon boat festival are eating Zongzi (rice dumplings) and boat races. Both traditions are related to dragons and can be traced back to the story of Qu Yuan.

Zongzi is rice dumplings with fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves. The flavors may differ depending on the region. Zongzi is popular as gifts, preferably homemade and nicely packaged.

The fifth month of the Chinese calendar has traditionally been a month of bad luck and disease. Therefore another costume is to decorate your front door with warm wood and calamus. These plants were considered to keep evil spirits, diseases, and bad luck away. Many people, especially children were small bags of perfume for the same reason.

During this period people also choose to travel, mainly within the country. This year, of course, covid affects the situation, but if you look at previous years, you can see that tourism is increasing during this period, especially in bigger cities.

Market your brand during Dragon Boat Festival?

Sponsor The Dragon Boat race, or why not create a limited product linked to the festival?

Dragon Boat Festival is a good opportunity to connect and create a relationship with your followers/customers. One way can be to create a limited gift or product linked to the festival.

A good example is Starbucks, they have created a gift bag to purchase if buying a certain amount of Zongzi.

Gain visibility by sponsoring Dragon boat races. The dragon boat race is very popular in China, both to participate in and to observe! There are many opportunities here, especially in sports brands!

If you look at Western brands, many have managed to create a relationship with their customers during specific traditions and holidays. So, shouldn’t you try to do the same with your Chinese customers? Just show your customers that you understand and know their tradition.



 
 

China’s Cultural Traditions: How to celebrate the Qingming Festival?

China’s Cultural Traditions: How to celebrate the Qingming Festival?

Today, the 5th of April, we want to draw attention to one of China’s traditional holidays, the Qingming festival! 🌞

Due to covid, the celebration might look a bit different this year. But still, we would like to give a shoutout to this beautiful holiday and give you a short lesson about the Qingming Festival.

Qingming Festival is a three-day public holiday, usually between the 3th-5th of April.

What is the Qingming Festival?

Qingming Festival, or Ching Ming Festival, can in English be mentioned as “Pure Brightness Festival” or “Tomb-Sweeping Day”.

The meaning of Qingming in short term is that days are getting warmer, and brighter and nature turns green.

Why and how is it celebrated?

The Qingming festival is marked by ceremonies to honor the ancestors. All around China there are people visiting their ancestors’ graves. Gifts can be offered such as flowers and fruit, burning incense and fake money can also be common. Tombs are usually swept around the graves, or outside, therefore the name “Tomb-Sweeping Day”

During the festival is it also common to see kites flying 🪁 (to bring fortune) and people spending time outside to welcome and enjoy the spring. ☀️🌸

Happy Qingming Festival! 清明节快乐!

NBH summerize successful domestic campaigns during International women’s day

NBH summerize successful domestic campaigns during International women’s day

In China, International Women’s Day (IWD) has in recent years gained more attention. This holiday has long been compared to Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day but has lately been more about celebrating the progress of women in society and seeking even better opportunities. 

Compared with the past, the position of Chinese women has indeed gone through an extreme transformation. Women in China today are more independent and career-focused. 

So, how do you celebrate Women’s Day in China?

International Women’s Day is celebrated with half a day off from work. It is also common that companies give gifts to their female employees, perhaps chocolate and sweet baskets. 

How do brands celebrate IWD?

Some of the best-selling categories among female consumers around 8 March are personal care products, perfumes, and jewelry. Looking into the big eCommerce giants such as JD and Tmall has this holiday become more like another shopping festival in China.

Many people are though against doing this holiday into a shopping holiday. But those brands that campaign tastefully and with a good statement can get lots of positive attention. A statement such as women empowerment and the rise of the socio-economic status of Chinese women.

Two examples of succesfull domestic campaigns

One good example is the Chinese Beauty Brand Proya Cosmetic, which in 2021 campaigned with a video together with Women’s daily. This video has until today got a lot of attention. Women’s daily which is partly owned by the Chinese government shows another sign of women’s progress in China.

Another good example is the Chinese lifestyle brand Neiwai that February 2021, debuted with the slogan No Body is Nobody. They have since then built up a series of campaigns exploring the diversity of the women’s body. In addition, they also launched a podcast section with various topics about feminism. Their films and photos will also be exhibited in a gallery at the brand’s offline office in Shanghai.

As a domestic brand, Neiwai was one of the first to raise the feminism issue, and it has since then become increasingly popular in marketing by different domestic brands.

A common trend that we can see through various campaigns and shopping festivals is that the customer demands more personal interaction with the brands. In order to build successful branding, clear messages and recognition are needed. Newai and Proya are two good examples to follow when it comes to brand strategy in China.

The NBH Guide: Little Red Book – The social fusion app where the UGC community meets ecommerce

The NBH Guide: Little Red Book – The social fusion app where the UGC community meets ecommerce

Little Red Book (LRB), also known as Xiaohongshu 小红书 and RED is China’s largest social shopping platform. It is China’s go-to platform to share product reviews, beauty tips, daily outfits, overall lifestyle photos, etc. LRB is the Chinese equivalent of Instagram and Pinterest together, it is one of the hottest social media platforms in China, an important platform for B2C brands to be present.

The story behind Little Red Book

The platform is based in Shanghai and was originally developed in 2013. The founders Miranda Qu and Charlwin Mao’s goal was to provide a user-generated content (UGC) platform for consumers to share and review products and shopping experiences, discover new products, and exchange style tips. In 2014 the platform began to focus on connecting Chinese consumers with retailers and making it possible to link posts with brand official stores. The launch of its cross-border e-commerce platform RED Store in 2014 opened up the possibility for Chinese customers to buy international brands directly through the app.

Today Little Red Book is one of the fastest-growing social e-commerce platforms on the market and has formed strategic partnerships with brands like Lancôme and Swiss.

In 2020, almost 100,000 new products were added to the app every day with a total number of over 780 million exclusive products.

The company is today valued at over 6 billion US dollars.

What is it?

According to its official website, Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) is a lifestyle sharing platform.

Its mission is to “inspire lives”.  They do this by being a platform that connects people to a range of diverse lifestyle content.

Some might call it a pure e-commerce site but a better description is a search engine. A search engine to easily make a shopping decision or get inspiration.

Users visually showcase things from their everyday life, such as:

  • Makeup- beauty tips
  • Travel experience
  • Outfit of the day
  • Fitness and workout tips

Everything is visually exposed, with a variety of formats, including photos, videos, text, and live streaming.

LRB is user-based and content-driven. The platform is reminiscent of Pinterest in the look of the feed, there are features such as bookmark your favorites, and create your own boards of inspiration. Like Instagram, there are stories and you have the function of sending private messages. Users can also interact via “likes”, cute emojis, comments and follow specific users or brands.

To target content to individual users, Xiaohongshu uses a recommendation algorithm based on the user’s search history and browsing habits.

So, who is the typical profile user of Little Red Book?

The latest official statistics from Little Red Book show that the platform has about 300 million registered users, and 100 million monthly active users.

The typical user profile on Little Red Book is a young female shopper living in top-tier cities, 56% of its users live in first- and second-tier cities.

The platform is mostly targeted by females, counting for +85% of its users. And the platform is most popular among the younger generations, such as Gen Z:s and late millennials.

The company has been clear that its next step is to engage and attract male users to the platform. In order to do so, investments have been done in articles and commerce on training and grooming products.

The importants of KOL:s on Little Red Book

KOL:s are extremely important for branding on the Chinese market. And since Xiaohongshu is so much driven by reviews, they might have a greater impact here than on any other platform in China. People with good taste and the ability to communicate their purchases can quickly grow into micro-influencers.

China’s new generation, led by Genzs, tends to look for authenticity in a different way than before. They are focused on sustainability, health, balance, and group affiliation. Maybe that’s why Xiaohongshu has become so big in this age group, simply because they are more compatible with that customer group.

Influencer (KOL) Kakakaoo- on Little Red Book

The creative RED

The success behind Little Red Book a.ka. RED is a user-driven community where people share comments and give reviews of their shopping and life experiences. The unique design creates a user experience that is more authentic and trusted than other platforms.

One problem that Little Red Book originally had was getting users to go from seeking inspiration and window shopping to actually making active purchases. To deal with this, the company has, among other things set rules for how products may be linked.

In 2020, 8% of the users reading a review on Little Red Book makes an order, this can be compared to Tmall (China’s largest marketplace for brand good) where only 2.6% do the same and go through with a purchase.

RED also has a high level of trust among users as they work directly with the brands’ own online stores. Brands also have the opportunity to set up their own digital shop within the app. Little Red Book then offers companies full logistics service, customer service, and full access to data insights.

LRB has also released its own brand REDesign and opened a physical flagship store in Shanghai. With this, they hope to cross the line between e-commerce and online stores.

Summery

Little Red Book is definitely something different from what we have seen in the “western” social media landscape. Instagram and Pinterest together as one, can it be better?

Overall the search function, the recommendation algorithm, and the user-driven content create a strong sense of credibility and a sense of belonging to a specific community or subculture, a lifestyle sharing platform.

With a large and strong user base, Little Red Book is definitely a platform to keep in mind if you want to introduce or expand your brand on the Chinese market.

New Year Special: NBH Looking into the Tiger Campaigns

New Year Special: NBH Looking into the Tiger Campaigns

Every year towards the Chinese New Year, it is always interesting to see how brands target their New Year campaigns.  

This year has been an increased amount of New Year commerce, this regards both global and domestic vendors. We believe that this is not only because the tiger’s pattern is so incredibly good-looking, but also because brands have gotten better at their marketing towards China. We see this not only on Chinese platforms such as WeChat and Little Red Book, but also in “Western” media such as Instagram. 

The Chinese New Year (CNY) is their biggest celebration of the year, not only in China but for all Chinese communities around the globe. It is also a big celebration for many other Asian countries, over about 1.5 billion people across the world are taking part in the festivities. This cultural holiday can be compared to “Western” Christmas, from a market perspective, why not value CNY as highly?

Chinas Lunar New Year – The Year of The Tiger

On the 1st of February, 2022, we entered the year of the tiger, the tiger falls in year three among the 12 zodiac animals. This year is also the element of water, which means it is “The Water Tiger Year”. Water has the most Yin of the five elements, characterizing stillness and conserving. The tiger is known for bravery, confidence, and strength (but also for its stubbornness). 

During Chinese New Year, you should bring luck to the year and your family. This by, for example, wearing your lucky color, eating “lucky dumpling” or wishing your loved ones a happy new year. 

Ahead of this New Year, has the tiger been a hot element both by smaller and bigger vendors, some people describing it as “The Tiger economy”. Brands have been wanting to spread hope and optimism for the new year, common marketing themes have been a family reunion, sustainability, or the woman’s place in society. When we take a closer look at international brands, we can see more traditional cultural elements, such as collaborations with domestic creators.

What are the popular trends for Chinese New Year 2022? 

NBH has taken a closer look at our favorites, and at the campaigns that have received a little extra attention.

The Luxury Brands are on it!

One good example of viewing luxury brands is Gucci. Gucci has gone all-in with its “Gucci Tiger” collection! The collection not only shows this year’s zodiac animal but is also showcasing sustainable materials such as exclusive environmentally friendly packaging and eco-friendly tiger watches.

This promotional film received 25 million views on Weibo and was a smart move to reach Gen Z. The reunion celebrities’ dinner film includes brand ambassadors, such as Chris Lee, Ni Ni, Lu Han, and Xiao Zhan.

Did this go wrong? 

Red envelop or Hongbao is a traditional custom, where money is given away in a red envelope. In recent years, this has gone viral, where you can send “Hongbao” on WeChat, for example. This is used by many brands as part of their marketing, where you can buy their design of Hongbao. This is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to reach followers. Traditionally, Hongbao is red, hong means red.

This year Bottega Veneta launched their Hongbao 红包 Yellow? This move has been well discussed. Instead of red they feature their envelope with deep green and yellow related to tangerine and oranges which is the “fortune fruit”. Quite a risky move, do we like it or not?

Pictures feature Bottega Venete Hongbao, pictures taken from Weibo.

Artistic collabs

Collaborations with domestic creators have become increasingly popular, this can really be seen during launches before CNY. Here is an example of Vans, who launched a collection with the artist Huatunan (Chen Yingjie).

How about the nordic brands?  

As a nordic agency, we have of course looked into how the nordic brands have been keeping up for the Tiger Year. Two good examples are the limited tiger print edition launched by Acne Studios, and Happy Socks launching Tiger socks with beautiful packaging.

In China, the details are important, and thus the packaging. This is something that Happy Socks has really embraced, launching a great-looking new year sock box.

If you haven’t noticed. Don’t forget the box!  

During the CNY, we can also see good examples of creative New Year’s packaging with cultural elements, both in terms of food, liqueur, chocolate, clothes, etc. We think you got it!

Last but not least, NBH family wants to wish you a Happy (Hu 虎) Year!

NBH gives you their surveys for 2022: We list five trends to keep an eye on!

NBH gives you their surveys for 2022: We list five trends to keep an eye on!

NBH has in 2021 followed and analyzed China’s digital trends, now it’s time to look ahead and see what is expected to hit the year 2022?

Which trends will continue to grow and which is here to stay, and what new trends will boom?

NBH has chosen to list 5 trends, we will dive into the tech world, green sustainability, the impact of Ai, digital currency, and the rising lower ties cities.

1.     Metaverse demands rethinking

In 2022, the concept of metaverse will rise all over the world and perhaps especially in China. Metaverse, which is sometimes also called “the third generation of the internet”, is expected to have a huge impact over the next 10-15 years and fundamentally change our view of the internet.

In China, the metaverse is already a common Internet term. The country’s distinctive digital e-landscape is expected to give China an advantage in the development of this new reality. Companies like Tencent and Alibaba are already developing and offering super-apps that give opportunities for gaming, social media networking, shopping, etc, within the same ecosystem.

China’s digital landscape is so different from the west, this means that companies who want to operate in the Chinese market also need to prepare for a truly unique metaverse.

2.     The Green Wave creates green opportunities, both for B2B and B2C

China aims to reach its carbon dioxide emissions peak by 2030. After 2030, the country’s emissions will gradually be reduced to completely carbon neutrality by 2060. These ambitious goals have stimulated a wave of new tech companies and companies that develops products and solutions for a green transition. As an example, China accounts for 61% of the world’s electric car market. This market together with batteries and sustainable materials is expected to continue to grow in 2022. We probably only see the beginning of this gigantic transformation.

The green trend can also be seen in B2C, where the new generation of customers “GenZ” is driving new shopping patterns. In 2022, the market for sustainable products and clothing is expected to grow. Customers will choose their goods with greater care and KOLs will continue to be replaced by COLs.

3.     The impact of Ai

In the last two years, in particular, China has shown enormous strides in the development of artificial intelligence. China is described as the leader in global Ai research, both qualitatively and from the great numbers of research carried out.

A good example of how companies can use Ai in the retail market is the Chinese fast-fashion brand Shein. Shein uses an Ai-engine to enable quickly pick up new trends among the customers. In this way, they can adapt their collection releases, production, storage, and delivery simultaneously to the market’s demand. Previously, the company Zara has been the world leader in the production stage and holds a record lead time of three weeks. With the help of Ai, Shein has been able to reduce this to the incredible result of only three days. Another good example is the development of Ai influencers. China launched its first “meta-human” in 2021, named Ayayi. In May 2021, Ranmai Technology debuted with the launch of Ayayi’s own Little red book, Xiaohongshu, account named Ayayiii. Her first post generated nearly 3 million views and 40,000 followers over one night.

“Ai Influencers” or “meta-human” is something we expect to see more of in 2022.

Ayayi, is she real?

4.     The new digital currency: eCNY

China is taking the lead in the global race to launch a digital currency. In 2021, China tested its digital currency “eCNY” in major cities such as Shenzhen, Beijing, and Shanghai, but it was still unclear when the digital currency would actually be launched. It is now clear that in the year 2022, the People’s Bank of China will make a soft launch during the Beijing Winter Olympics.

This launch will be a guideline for the digital infrastructure and will influence other countries that are currently developing their own central bank’s digital currency. Will the eCNY hold as a “product” in the infrastructure of financial technology? And how will it affect the digital market?

This surely will be interesting to follow. But above all, China is once again showing its global impact and digital progress.

5.     The rising market of Lower-tier city

The Demand for lifestyle- and luxury products in China’s major cities is expected to have peaked. The standard of living is generally high and the sharply increased consumption in these cities has in recent years begun to slow down. This means that many companies and brands instead are targeting China’s lower-tier cities. Chinas smaller towns have previously been considered as a market for mainly domestic products. But with rising standards and higher wages combined with low living costs, the population of smaller cities has become the major driver of China’s consumer market growth. As an example, as many as 70% of Alibaba’s newly registered customers are from smaller cities.

In 2022, this trend is expected to continue and the lower-tier cities in China will be the new focus for many companies and brands.

Skyscraper Suzhou, China 2nd tier city

China is clearly a country with globally influential tech trends.

Some other examples of trends that NBH believes will continue in 2022 is:

  • livestream shopping
  • Green shopping
  • The major shopping festivals will still be 618 and 11.11.

In recent years, many brands have also developed their adaption to the language and culture barrier in order to reach the world’s second-largest economy. This is something we hope to see more of.