The giving and receiving of red packets (also known as lai see, ang pow/bao or hongbao) during the Lunar New Year holiday period is a longstanding tradition for Chinese and other Asian communities globally. Red packets with varying sums of money represent a blessing of good luck and well-wishes and are exchanged between families and colleagues.
In recent years, this cultural tradition has received a major digital upgrade. Cash is no longer king during Lunar New Year – instead, digital payments have transformed the giving and receiving of red packets from a physical to a digital process. Facilitated by payment platforms Alipay and WeChat pay, which together accounted for more than 80% of mobile payments in 2019 (SCMP), a digital-first approach to red packet gifting has transformed not only personal red packet gifting but also how businesses take part in Lunar New Year.
WeChat, who first facilitated the sending and receiving of digital red packets in 2014 by introducing a function where receivers would not be able to see how much money they have received until ‘opening’ their packet, has led the way for branded Lunar New Year gifting. In 2019, the brand collaborated with multiple luxury brands such as De Beers and Fendi to launch branded red packet designs that reflected each brand’s unique identity. For 2021, WeChat doubled down on their commitment to facilitating red packet gifting, enabling the creation of fully customisable covers where users could unleash their creative freedom.
Digital red packets offer a unique way for brands to engage with customers around the Lunar New Year festival. Here are some tried-and-tested ways to maximise success:
Consumers tend to be fans of customisable products. While it’s important to safeguard your brand’s visual identity, letting your audience unleash their creativity is a sure-fire way to promote engagement and deepen affinity with your brand. Including customisable elements in your digital red packets, such as allowing audiences to change colours and fonts or add the recipient’s name, will provide a point of attraction for consumers throughout the Lunar New Year period.
During Lunar new Year 2021, over 30 million unique covers were created on WeChat alone, with each user owning 7.37 covers on average. Luxury brands such as Gucci, Burberry and Galeries Lafayette China were quick to adopt a digital-first strategy for their red packets, with the latter using the campaign as a means of promoting awareness around their new WeChat Mini Program.
When it comes to Lunar New Year red packet gifting, it’s all about design. The design of your red packet will be what will make your brand stand out at Lunar New Year, and an appealing, on-trend and on-brand design will be a key point of attraction for both existing and new customers. In addition to offering customisable elements, ensuring you have a range of visually appealing ‘off the shelf’ designs will help your brand win audience affinity.
Consumers are increasingly expecting exceptional experiences from brands around key cultural moments, rather than simply updated messaging or season-specific discounts. Building a gamified solution not only creates an engaging environment for your customers but also enables your brand to showcase relevant products and collections, further prompting purchase from consumers and driving ROI from your Lunar New Year campaigns.
Alipay’s annual “Five Fortune Card Collection” campaign, commonly known as WuFu, uses Augmented Reality to encourage users to find and collect the Chinese character “Fu”. Users are able to scan anything on which the character ‘Fu” appears, and those who collect a set of five “Fu” cards are eligible to win cash rewards. The campaign has rapidly gained in popularity amongst users, and in 2021, it took less than 36 hours for the first million users to gather a full set of “Fu” characters.
Douyin, the increasingly popular Chinese social media app, has this year kickstarted its payment functionality. While Alipay and WeChat Pay still maintain dominance, Douyin Pay and its parent company, Bytedance, are now viable competitors in the social payment space. Brands seeking to tap into new and engaged audiences can look to emerging platforms to further leverage their connections to consumers during the Lunar New Year period.
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