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New Year’s marketing becomes a must

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-02-16 22:55
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US companies taking advantage of a holiday given to spending sprees

As Chinese communities grow in the US, the importance and impact of the Chinese New Year also is expanding, and this hasn’t escaped major American companies always seeking ways to reach new customers.

The Chinese New Year is both a family and community holiday rich with traditions and represents an ideal time to reach one of the most affluent groups in the country. And many major US companies are fully embracing a New Year’s marketing program to reach the Chinese community.

“Many Chinese consumers have a lot of disposable income and during the New Year there are a lot of parties involving family and friends. It’s not surprising that companies would be interested in trying to get people to buy during a season when they are predisposed to buy,” Russell Winer, professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University, said in an interview.

One company that has created special marketing for the New Year or Spring Festival which begins on Friday is the department store chain Macy’s Inc.

Macy’s stores nationwide will honor the New Year with special in-store events and activities. Events commemorating the “Year of the Dog” will take place in select stores across the country, including in California, Hawaii and New York. They will include Lion Dances, instrumental performances, cosmetic tutorials and fashion presentations.

“Macy’s is proud to continue hosting events in select stores around the country in celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday. The Year of the Dog celebrations in 2018 will represent the five years of dedicated Macy’s Lunar New Year festivities on a national level,” William Hawthorne, senior vice-president diversity and inclusion strategies, wrote in an email.

Hawthorne said Macy’s is pleased with the response to its marketing outreach. “Through events including fashion shows, cultural music and dancing, as well as special red and gold product, stores historically see customers celebrating by way of fashions, accessories, and fragrances,” he said.

Wells Fargo & Co is creating festive New Year merchandise including coin banks, calendars, red envelopes, and greeting cards. “We will run celebratory messages on our ATMs and digital banner ads on,” Shuyi Wang, vice-president and multicultural strategy leader at the bank said in an email.

Wells Fargo will be sponsoring the San Francisco Lunar New Year parade on Feb 24. Local chapters of Wells Fargo’s team-member resource group, Asian Connection, will organize awareness and celebration activities such as potluck and info-sharing forums throughout the nation, said Wang.

NYU’s Winer said companies need to understand that the Chinese community is composed of many segments. “Within the Chinese community there are sub segments defined by income levels, geography or the main language that is used. I see it in my students here at NYU. The third- and fourth-generation students have the habits of 18 and 20-year-olds from anywhere. Their parents and grandparents may be more traditional. You see that in other ethnic groups as well,” he said.

Jay Kim, president of the Asian American Advertising Federation, said that the Chinese New Year is a good time for US companies to market to not only Chinese, but also other Asian groups like Koreans and Vietnamese.

A report from market research company Nielsen in 2016 found a growing Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in which the Chinese are the largest group. The Asian-American impact on consumer preferences is rippling across mainstream America with far-reaching implications for brands and marketers, Nielsen said.

Mariko Carpenter, vice-president for strategic community alliances at Nielsen, said that AAPI buying power was $891 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to $1.2 trillion by 2021.

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