This is particularly important, because Lunar New Year is a wide term for a holiday celebrated in different ways across different cultures. A common misconception, for instance, is that Lunar New Year is solely a Chinese holiday – when it is actually celebrated in Indonesia, Singapore, the Korean Peninsula and more. And each market may be looking for different things both in terms of products and their positioning.
In Vietnam, for instance, “consumers are keen on online shopping and discovering products from abroad, influenced heavily by word-of-mouth”, says Peter Huynh, founder of Intelligence4Start, a Melbourne-based agency that helps international brands enter the Vietnamese market. In China, many consumers often snap up luxury goods; Q1 luxury sales are expected to soar, in part due to purchases during Lunar New Year.
“To understand what, why and how people celebrate is very important,” says Ranjana Singh, Vietnam and Indonesia chairperson of WPP, a global marketing and communications company. “We see many examples of brands just ticking the box. For example, superficial showing of large families, but that doesn’t make you stand out.”
Although emerging brands may tempted to enter the market during the flurry of Lunar New Year spending, Huynh cautions the timing might not be ideal, especially for newcomers to the Asian market.
Competition is high, he says, and not all products align with Lunar New Year customs – so the product-market fit may not be there, which can be glaringly obvious with so many eyes on Asia-focused campaigns. “If you’re a new player in the market, you shouldn’t take the risk by coming into Asia during Lunar New Year. You may wait until the low season to stand out and grab the consumer’s attention.”
Expanding into Asian markets, particularly during the Lunar New Year, requires careful consideration – and is not for those unwilling to tackle challenges head-on.