Reporter Journal / Chang Jun

US retailers, designers wooing Chinese New Year shoppers

By Chang Jun (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-01-12 12:27

First, they came in red, then in the shapes of zodiac animals and now they are using Mandarin characters and images of cultural heritage.

To sell to Chinese shoppers on their traditionally preeminent holiday, Western consumer goods, including luxury brands, spare no effort to tempt shoppers from the world's second-largest economy to open their wallets for the Spring Festival celebration.

A time of gifting among family members and friends, Chinese New Year celebrates everyone's longing for health, good luck, prosperity and success. The dominant use of the color red and reiterations of best wishes and gift-giving are typically the main components of a blissful New Year celebration.

In recent years, Western retailers and consumer goods manufacturers have been trying their best to get in sync with the Chinese people's celebration, hoping to be the choice for their gifting.

Although it's one month away from the official start of the Year of the Monkey, which falls on Feb 8 this year, luxury brands are already launching their marketing strategies.

Nike sporting goods announced that its iconic Air Force 1 model will bear the Chinese name of "Nian Hua", meaning "drawings for the Spring Festival". In a news release Nike said this special design pays homage to Chinese history and is in line with its market dominance in China.

Swoosh shoes are being imprinted with a Chinese lotus blossom on the tongue and Koi fish on each side panel to set off their white leather tops.

Giorgio Armani is also getting in on the game, wooing the Chinese consumer using cultural nuance..The Italian designer will release an exclusive limited-edition facial make-up palette, in the traditional sheer crimson, embossed with the monkey face on the base and the traditional Chinese symbols for "Fortune" and "Luck" on the lid.

According to Bain and Co, Chinese consumers in 2014 made up 31 percent of the $273 billion personal luxury goods marketed globally, and the US is the biggest market outside of Asia.

Most of the purchases are made by Chinese tourists, who are inclined to go abroad during national holidays, especially the one-week-long Spring Festival. Many up-scale department stores have noted the trend and hope to cash in on the influx of Chinese spenders.

US retailers, designers wooing Chinese New Year shoppers

My recent window shopping around the Union Square area of San Francisco turned out to be an eye-opener on how American retailers cater to Chinese culture and demonstrate their high regard and appreciation for Chinese consumers as a whole.

Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and boutique stores of luxury brands have decorated their windows in such aesthetically tasteful ways, using objects and symbols rich in cultural significance. I can't say enough about what a wonderful job they have done.

One storefront chose to center the celebration on red, decking out its flagship's windows with a monkey and lanterns. Another shared a social video depicting a card for Chinese New Year, acting as an introduction to a guide to appropriate gifts, including a red handbags and jewels in gold tones.

To make the shopping experience more rewarding, some stores will give out red envelops with gift cards based on an individual's total purchase worth $8, $88 or $888 - the number eight being an auspicious number in Chinese tradition.

Contact the writer at

Most Popular
Hot Topics
The Week in Photos