Celebrated across Asia, the Chinese New Year period is an important sales window. The festival is the perfect opportunity for brands, especially foreign ones, to show Chinese consumers how well they understand their culture, noted Rochette-Schneider.
“Creating occasional collections is a good strategy to attract consumers’ attention and connect in a deeper way with them. Consumers are sensitive to brands' efforts towards exploring and reinterpreting their cultural heritage as long as it’s done in a humble and respectful way.”
A fine balance
The tradition of Chinese New Year is full of rich iconography and symbolism and creative teams need to pay attention to.
For example, Chinese consider red and gold to be auspicious colours that symbolise good fortune. Conversely, black and white are not welcomed, as they are the traditional the colours of mourning.
Each year heralds in the reign of one of the twelve zodiac animals from Chinese astrology, providing creatives with fresh inspiration every year. This year is the Year of the Pig and next in line is the rat.
However, to design an effective collection, Rochette-Schneider stressed that there’s a fine balance between generic seasonal clutter and a truly special collection that stands out among the sea of red and gold.
“When designing a Chinese New Year edition, brands should pay attention to achieve the right balance between the brand's own identity, a playful and modern style, Chinese culture codes and animal reinterpretation,” he said.
He added that in order to stand out, brands need to generate a genuine connection with Chinese consumers. This would require a deep understanding of the local culture, as well as a creative eye for traditions.
For example, he added, this year Chinese consumers have been resonating with playful and cute pig-inspired designs.
Even though the festival can be loud and bold to a point of obnoxiousness, Rochette-Schneider advices brands to opt for more understated designs.
“When it comes to seasonal collections, what appeals to Chinese consumers and trigger good reviews online is mainly the subtle reinterpretation of the traditions.”
Some collections that have caught Rochette-Schneider’s eye include offerings from SK-II, Lancôme and Maybelline.
Maybelline in particular, released a make-up collection that includes a Mahjong set – a traditional tile-based game that is especially popular during the festive season. Even without the overtly obvious symbols, this surprising and playful element is what draws consumers to it.
Aside from cosmetics, Rochette-Schneider looked to fashion as well. He praised GUCCI’s “Three Little Pigs” collaboration with Disney.
“What is successful about this collection is that it manages to both stay true to the brand's identity and showcase the animal in a funny way,” he said.
Similarly to GUCCI, K-Beauty brand Etude House released collaborative makeup collection with Disney featuring Piglet from Winnie the Pooh.
By featuring illustrations of these classic Disney pig characters, the brands were able to be playful and seasonally relevant while also giving it life beyond the festive holiday.