Promotion Periods Every Marketer in China Needs to Know

Promotion Periods Every Marketer in China Needs to Know


One of the most common mistakes marketers make is not allocating enough time to professionally engage key opinion leaders (KOLs), also known as influencers, for their digital marketing efforts. Real results can be obtained by incorporating a well thought out KOL strategy into an overall marketing plan, but marketers tend to underestimate the amount of time needed to seek the right KOL for their brand, negotiate the campaign terms, send out products for review or trial, and finally, allow the KOL to craft authentic content that will resonate with his or her social media followers.

In this post, we’ll start you on your KOL planning process with the basics: major retail holidays in China.

There are so many holidays in China that it’s hard for businesses to keep track, or know how to best take advantage of them. Get your yellow highlighters ready -- in this article, we’ll outline the travel and retail periods that matter so you can make sure you plan your digital marketing well in advance.

Here are the holidays at a glance, a cheat sheet if you will!

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What type of digital promotions should I do over the Chinese holidays?

Some holidays such as Children’s Day, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day might be particularly relevant or irrelevant to you, depending on what industry you work in, but the others described below are pretty universal as far as China’s concerned. 

In China, traditional holidays are always times for family gatherings. Although these often give several days up to a week of vacation, the Chinese don’t shop much over the holidays themselves, since they’re busy with family. For e-commerce in China, what’s important is your promotion period before the holiday starts.

For example, Chinese New Year. We see discounts and promotions happening from Christmas right through to Chinese New Year (usually end of January / February), because shoppers are pocketing their end of year bonuses, and with the launch of spring / summer collections, they are looking for new clothing and gifts in preparation for the CNY holidays. Together with the fact that many start their homebound journeys a full week before the actual holiday, digital marketers for the China market would do well to start planning and executing promotions way in advance.

Tell your target customers about your sales promotions by engaging social media key opinion leaders (KOLs) to talk about your brand throughout your promotion period on platforms like Wechat and Weibo. Be creative about how their posts promote you and always remember, authenticity and a truly credible voice is key to influencing consumers.

Qing Ming, Labor Day andDragonboatholidays are not long holidays and are dedicated for families getting together, so they’re not as important as far as e-commerce is concerned, but they can be used to enhance brand image in preparation for summer sales. During these dates, many brands tend to focus their online advertising and social media content on communicating their brand’s image, rather than products or promotions.

Although not a holiday per se, the summer months are when people prepare to go traveling, so travel related companies tend to use this time to create attractive social media content and promotions to push sales. It’s not uncommon for hospitality brands to invite influencers to experience and review their hotel, restaurant or attraction a few weeks in advance.

The Chinese have their own version of Valentine’s Day to celebrate couples in love, called Qixi. Not unlike Valentine’s Day in the west, this day has become a major retail period where consumers are eager to purchase gifts for their romantic partners, whether actual or aspiring. International and luxury brands have been quick to ride on this date to encourage social selling, with success.

The first holiday of the fall/winter season, Mid-Autumn Festival is a family-oriented holiday, but since September is a key month for new collections, it’s the perfect time to enhance brand awareness, and take part in the culture of well wishes (think shareable GIFs and lengthy puns) by cleverly incorporating traditional elements into your Wechat and Weibo content.

The highest season for tourism in China is October’s Golden Week, a seven day holiday during which people from third and fourth tier cities travel to first tier cities to eat, shop and just have fun. This is a great opportunity to increase your brand awareness as well as sales, so make sure you plan thoroughly for this. The best way to keep your brand at the top of people’s minds while they’re having fun and traveling? Engage lots of influencers / KOLs on Weibo and Wechat to post about your brand the whole time, and give them exclusive discounts to pass on to their followers.

What is Single’s Day?!

Single’s Day” or “Double Eleven” (on 11/11 November 11th) was a 24 hour super discount period initially launched by Taobao (Alibaba) for all the e-commerce businesses on its platform. Think of it like a Black Friday for China. Seeing its success (Alibaba broke its record and raked in $14.3 billion from Nov 11 in 2015), other e-commerce sites and physical shops have followed suit, some extending it to two or three days of promotions. The idea has now become a highly anticipated retail promotion both online and offline, and as long as you have a solid marketing plan and campaign to promote, 11/11 can yield amazing results in just a short period of time.

Some e-tailers have created “Double Twelve” for Dec 12, trying to replicate the phenomenon of Single’s Day, but with limited success. As of now, this promotional date is used mostly by some online shops only.
Get the round-ups of 2016's "record breaking" Single's Day results here

Do the Chinese celebrate Christmas?

Now they do! Althought not a holiday native to China, Christmas has been fully embraced by the younger generation. It’s a time for company annual dinners, friends gatherings and parties, and of course, gift exchanges. Happening simultaneously with year end further sales, retailers see an uptick in sales pre-Christmas, becoming an important time of year for retail businesses.

Hope you found this useful! Stay tuned for our next article: How to plan a social media campaign for a major holiday promotion.

Next up…

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