Love in China – Why So Many Valentine’s Days?

4 minute read

By Paul Hickey, Hot Pot Strategist

Perhaps now more than ever, any celebration that brings people together, whether virtually or physically, is a welcome relief. Thankfully, China has a plethora of such occasions. March 14th every year sees ‘White Valentine’s Day’, typically celebrated by women giving gifts to men. This year, whilst many brands used the day to promote gifting products, they also used the occasion to spread a message of support and community to their followers across China. As we move forward and a level of normalcy begins to return in China, there are more key dates to share the love.

May 20th – 520 ‘wu er ling’

May 20th, known as 520, originated as a result of Chinese internet slang. 520, pronounced ‘wu er ling’ has phonetic similarities with the phrase ‘wo ai ni’, which means ‘I love you’. As this phrase began to grow in popularity, it became associated with the date May 20th. The occasion is widely celebrated in China and due to its digital nature, is very popular online.

Last year, Estee Lauder teamed up with their ambassador Hua Chenyu to release 3 exclusive lipstick shades engraved with ‘520’. By using their male ambassador to promote these exclusive products, they were able to appeal to his fans and promote the idea of self gifting. The campaign proved successful with pre-sale orders reaching over 10,000 units within 24 hours of the video going live.


August 25th 2020 – Qixi 

Qixi, which this year is on August 25th, is based on the story of a cowherd and weaver girl. The two were lovers but unable to meet and were separated by a heavenly river. Once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month (Qixi), a bridge would form to unite them. The celebration dates back millennia and today, many Chinese couples celebrate the occasion in a similar fashion to Valentine’s Day, sending gifts and arranging dinners with their significant other. Shopping malls, brands and ecommerce platforms all across China see this date as a significant part of their marketing calendars and it is celebrated more widely than its February 14th counterpart.

Last year, Budweiser’s ‘all love is love’ campaign generated significant buzz. The campaign showcased a diverse cast of couples in video and photo content. As well as this, they released special edition bottles that when paired together, showed a couple kissing. The campaign promoted the idea of diversity and all love being valid and this resonated well with their target consumers, reportedly achieving well over 2 billion impressions across multiple touchpoints.


February 14th – Valentine’s Day

February 14th is celebrated in China, although thanks in part to the fact that the celebration stems from the West. Tier 1 cities typically celebrate the occasion more than lower tiers. The celebrations in China are much the same as they are globally, with couples gifting each other a wide range of items. This year, given the seriousness of the situation in China, many brands used the occasion to focus on sharing a message of love and positivity for all, rather than purely gift giving and romantic love. 

Brands still took advantage of the commercial opportunity, Louis Vuitton released a mini-program featuring gift recommendations, but in its content decided to focus on love as a collective rather than purely romantic, generating over 100,000 WeChat views.

March 14th – White Valentine’s Day

White Valentine’s Day is the least celebrated of all options listed but that’s not to say it should be overlooked. The celebration stems from Japanese and Korean culture and is focused on women giving a gift to their partner to say thank you for their Valentine’s Day gift a month previously. 

Many brands create content that promotes white, black or grey products as well as items that would be ideal for gifting. This year, Tiffany created content that showcased different products for different relationship types including the one with yourself. The content was viewed 80,000 times on WeChat.

 

China clearly loves to love and this year has seen a shift away from pure consumerism to utilising campaigns and content to send support across the nation. As the current situation continues to evolve, it’s important that brands understand how campaigns can resonate in the market in a way that feels authentic to consumer sentiment.

At Hot Pot China we partner with forward-thinking brands on their China activity. We guide our clients in maximising ROI from their short, medium and long-term marketing activity in China, as well as executing the same in-market.

Contact Hot Pot China here to discuss how our team of China specialists can help realise greater value in your brand, digital and eCommerce initiatives.