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February 5, 2019 marked the start of the Year of the Pig in the Chinese or Lunar calendar. The Year of the Pig was welcomed by more international product launches and marketing campaigns than has been seen in the past five years. Also known as Spring Festival in China, the Chinese/Lunar New Year is marked throughout Asia and increasingly, the world. Launches of consumer product goods (CPG) referencing Chinese or Lunar New Year and/or the years’ respective animal have increased in Europe and North America (US and Canada) annually since 2014.

The Year of the Pig has become a more global phenomenon than the previous five new years, according to Mintel GNPD. Product launches marking the holiday and/or its respective animal start as early as November for the upcoming new year. Chinese/Lunar New Year or Year of the Pig CPG launches reached 15% of global share in Europe and 10% of global share in North America from November 2018- February 10, 2019. This is an impressive change given that 97% of launches for Chinese/Lunar New Year 2015, or the Year of the Horse, were in Asia Pacific.

Source: Mintel GNPD

Source: Mintel GNPD

Beauty

In terms of pacesetter categories, beauty and personal care (BPC) has been most active in bringing Chinese/Lunar New Year to more global markets. For Chinese/Lunar New Year 2019, 47% of global launches marking the holiday were beauty and personal care products. This is a dramatic increase from BPC accounting for just 4% of global launches marking Chinese/Lunar New Year 2015. Moreover, BPC companies have capitalized on the global appeal of the holiday with several international brands releasing limited edition Chinese/Lunar New Year products across global markets. For example, the M.A.C. Lucky Red limited-edition Chinese New Year 2019 Amplified Creme Lipstick in Lotus Light color was released in China, the UK, Canada and several other countries.

Marketing

In the US, a range of companies also have embraced the holiday in their marketing campaigns. Beauty and personal care companies, apparel brands and financial institutions referenced the holiday or the Year of the Pig in email marketing messages, according to Mintel Comperemedia. For example, Amazon restaurants offered consumers a view into whether the new year would bring “fame, fortune or falafels.”

The Power of Guidance and A Dash of Fun

Spotify Astrology playlist

Consumers today are overloaded with making decisions and more brands and services are leaning into astrology to help guide even the most basic decisions, such as what drink to order or what song to listen to. While astrology once had a connotation of being a prediction of the future, today it’s commonly being used as a way to help consumers understand themselves better and the Chinese Zodiac signs offer a similar form of reflection during a dedicated time frame.

Starbucks Astrology drink recommendations

Product launches and marketing efforts associated with Lunar New Year celebrations are a good way to generate buzz for consumers that are a little more fun and differentiating given that consumers always like having something to celebrate. Throughout the year, celebrations provide added motivation for consumers to treat themselves or others, seen with virtually all consumers spending on non-winter holidays according to Mintel research on holiday shopping. Campaigns that contain interesting tidbits of information that connect the year of birth to present day should prove especially motivating as it will give consumers that extra feeling of relevance.

What we think

The increased visibility of such campaigns comes at a time when national identities and cities are becoming more culturally mixed and exposure to social media alongside mass travel opens up greater appreciation for a range of celebrations. In addition to appealing to consumers on a festive level, there is a deeper, more significant aspect at play. Adopting celebratory occasions from other cultures and leveraging them as a marketing platform is a subtle way for brands to show consumers that they embrace diversity. This latter point is particularly important as consumers today are increasingly choosing to purchase from brands that hold values which align to their own.

Opportunities for next year: Year of the Rat

  • Potential for brands, especially global, to pay more attention to international holidays and create limited-edition launches or promotional campaigns.
  • Consumers want reasons to celebrate. Chinese/Lunar New Year is not the only holiday that brands can use to their advantage. Help make other international holidays global, capitalize on social media holidays (National Pizza Day, anyone?) or create your own holiday.
  • Ahead of next year’s Lunar New Year, start investigating the qualities associated with the Rat so you can brainstorm practical and authentic ways it fits into overall marketing strategy.

Diana Kelter is a Senior Trend Analyst at Mintel. She investigates how cultural, lifestyle and technology shifts take shape across sectors and leverages Mintel data across trend observations.

Carol Wong-Li is Associate Director, Lifestyles and Leisure at Mintel, researching and writing reports on the Canadian lifestyle and leisure industries.

Jenny Zegler is an Associate Director of Mintel Food and Drink at Mintel. Jenny blends her trends expertise with food and drink topics such as health, formulation, sustainability and premiumization.