Brand Marketing Chinese Consumer Behavior Marketing Strategy

Unlock the Magic Behind 520 in Marketing to the Chinese Audience

520, when pronounced in Mandarin Chinese (wǔ’èrlíng), sounds similar to the words “I love you” (wǒ ài nǐ). Therefore, the number 520 is typically used as a trendy way to say “I Love You“ in China.

May 20th, presented as 520, is widely celebrated as another Chinese Valentine’s Day in the country and also by many Chinese overseas. The festival was initially celebrated by youth, but had quickly expanded to different generations from Millennials to their middle age parents, all taking the day as an opportunity to send gifts and messages of endearment to their loved ones.

A Sweetened Marketing Battle for Brands

For a long time, festivals have been a hot spot for brands to take advantage of for marketing. The marketing battle on Mother’s Day is still fresh, and in a blink of an eye, the marketing war for 520 has started. This annual national love confession day on May 20th for Chinese is not only an excellent opportunity to express the strong affection between lovers, but also a big time for major brands to compete. Especially after being hit hard by the pandemic, brands from all kinds of business all hope to grab the timing to recover on this love day of “520”.

The great atmosphere of hot festivals, the unique creativity of major brands, and the active participation of witty storytellers have resulted in a carnival scene. However, when more and more brands join the marketing war for 520, the ideas and formats are also getting more homogenized. How to stand out in this “sweetened marketing battle” and get more people to “spend money for love” is the key.

Piggy doll with 520 digital model

Brands have taken advantage of the opportunity to launch Chinese consumer-centric campaigns for their love-struck customers. The following are some 520 campaigns that caught our attention.

Luxury Brands

Prada: Mathematics of Love

The luxury brand which made the biggest 520 impact on Chinese consumers in 2020 was Prada’s “520 Mathematics of Love” campaign.

To celebrate 520, Prada launched a content-driven campaign with one of the most popular male celebrities in China, Cai Xukun. The short film, Mathematics of Love, showed how Cai expressed love through a series of numbers – each with a hidden meaning:

“100 hours thinking of you”

“8 cakes made for you”

“12 new songs written”

“85 attempts to pick the perfect gift”

“40 tulips planted”

“75 meters of ribbon to wrap your gift”

“1 hour set for our date”

“130 heart beats per minutes”

All the numbers were linked to Cai’s love and romance and when added together equal 520 (i.e., I love you).

Photo: Prada’s Weibo

Prada also launched a pop-up online store in their WeChat Mini-Program in which consumers could select gifts for their loved ones. Visitors were also able to create a customised personal poster in the same design as Cai’s by uploading their own pictures.

The 520 campaign was promoted on Weibo, WeChat, Douyin and Prada’s official Chinese website. Using a variety of digital platforms and formats (video, images and gifs) helped them reach a wider audience and appeal to Prada lovers on different channels.

Piaget: 520 Love Words in Short

This year, Piaget has launched Super-Brand Days on their Tmall brand store around the time of 520, accepting pre-orders for a global limited-edition necklace. 

They have started promoting their Possession SLYZ Series products, which include rings, necklaces, bracelets and watches, heavily on their Weibo way back since April. 

This strategy allows them to lead over competitors in the timing for consumers to shop their 520 gifts for their loved ones.

On May 13, they held a live sales event featuring 3 of the members from the hot new international boy group INTO1 on their Tmall platform to promote the products.
 As a result of the celebrity effect, the 3 Weibo posts with videos of the boys reminding fans to join the live have gone viral.

Photo: Piaget’s Weibo

Tiffany & Co.: Love Unlocks Infinite Possibilities

Tiffany launched a limited edition of its signature Tiffany Keys necklace with a touch of pink sapphires that surround the glittering diamonds exclusively for 520 Day in 2020.

This year, Tiffany launched the Key Series, also limited edition, extended to more options for men as well. Highlighting “Love is focus, romance, courage, passion”, the Tiffany Key Series is promoted to be the best gifts to show your love and deliver your confession by “Unlocking Infinite Possibilities Together”.

The Campaign also uses actors and actress including Cecilia Sung, Austin Li, Simon Gong, Ou Hao to endorse their 520 featured products. Photos and videos of them wearing the Tiffany Key Series are all over the internet including Tiffany’s website and the Chinese Social Media.

Photo: Tiffany & Co.’s website

Auto Brands

Infiniti – The Crossed-over with Bose

Infiniti crossed over with Bose to launch an exclusive 520 gift box containing the Bose Audio Sunglass and gave it out to new buyers of the Infiniti QX50 around 520.

An interactive and engaging post was created on their WeChat Official Account:

  • The viewers were greeted with an animation of a gift box presented to them. When they followed the instruction to click, the gift box would be opened and expanded to a long image showcasing the nice content of the gift. Details of how to get the gift was then presented.
  • In the promotion, buyers of a new Infiniti QX50 who also registered to be members of Bose between May 20 to May 30 would receive the exclusive gift box, a perfect 520 present.

Next came up when they keep scrolling was a Mini-Program with a landing page where they could conveniently make appointment for a test drive of the car.

Toyota – Fight for Love Virtual Gift Hunting Game with Swarovski

Guang Qì Toyota, a large auto dealer Group in China, collaborated with Swarovski to promote the Toyota Wildlander on 520 by offering an interactive experience on their WeChat.

  • They invited public to go to their Mini-Program on WeChat, in which the viewers were able to virtually explore the whole interior of the Wildlander in 360
  • A gift hunt game was added to optimize the whole virtual experience: The visitor got to look for some gifts hidden somewhere inside the interior of the car.  After successfully finishing the game, they would then get the opportunity to enter a draw for a beautiful Swarovski Necklace, a perfect gift for 520, or other rewards.
Photo: Guang Qì Toyota’s Weibo

Food & Drink

Godiva – Chocolate Giveaway

Chocolate has a very special connection with love and is always one of the best tools to say “I Love You”. This year around 520, Godiva is running a contest on their Weibo asking viewers to follow their page. A box of Godiva Classic Master Series Dark Chocolate will be given out to the winner of a draw to be made on May 20.

Coke – Creative Love Confessions

2020 was also the year of “Love You Love You “(èrlíng erlang or ài nǐ ài nǐ).

On 520 last year, the national love confession day of the year of “Love You Love You”, Coke drew social media engagements by asking fans to get rid of the old and outdated love words and shared creative ideas of the most romantic confessions.

And they started with this on their own post:

“My world is full of √4 (2 = ài = Love)

Other than you, there is only you

Photo: Tiffany & Co.’s website

Reach Chinese consumers in North America

Once you have a creative idea in mind to speak to the Chinese Audience, it is also very important to find the correct touch points to convey your message.

Chinese Immigrants to North America can be perceived as ‘transplanted consumers’, they are more likely to retain the same consumer values and behavior as well as media usage habits from their home country before they are completely acculturated.

At Eastward Media, we are devoted to help media agencies and brands reach Chinese consumer audiences in North America through their favorite Chinese websites, mobile apps, and video streaming platforms , targeting them by their demographics, affinity groups, browsing interests and shopping motivations.

We also target Chinese consumers through their most widely used social media platforms with our customed marketing strategies.

Interested in learning more? Connect with us today.

Chinese Marketing

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