The Brands Hopping Into The Chinaverse For Lunar New Year

As Lunar New Year celebrations near, brands have been spending the preliminary period experimenting with new ideas and technologies to grab consumer attention. Cue the Chinaverse. But as global attention on Web3 grows, so does the competition. From McDonalds to Playboy, major names across the mainland have been gearing up for the holidays and tapping the rising digital world in their marketing efforts.

Widespread optimism and a collective sense of excitement have taken over China this season, following the lifting of stringent COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, consumers are ready to celebrate now more than ever. While the real world settles back into normality, retail players across the country are still banking on China’s new web terrain to make an impact and — ultimately — a profit. 

Below, Jing Daily rounds up the brands and big names pulling out all the virtual stops for this year’s Spring Festival. 

DFS’s “Hop Into Good Fortune” campaign encourages users to take part in its festive scavenger hunt to win NFTs. Photo: DFS

DFS Unveils Its “Fortune Rabbit Web3 Scavenger Hunt” In Honor Of Year Of The Rabbit

Luxury travel retailer DFS is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit by launching a New Year campaign in “DFS World” — a digital platform featuring a number of interactive experiences and offers. For the holiday season, visitors to the virtual universe could expect to be greeted by Fortune Rabbits that promised to bring good luck and prosperity, as well as join in on the “Fortune Rabbit Scavenger Hunt” through which they could win a complimentary Fortune Rabbit NFT.  

Gamified experiences took the reins of the Chinaverse this festive season. The mainland’s metaverse market may still be unestablished, but with a global gamification sector valued at $12.25 billion in 2021 and expected to reach $58.8 billion by 2028 (according to market research group IMARC), brands are diving into the trend as a way of driving engagement and fostering digital-native communities for the future. As for DFS, the group has consistently shown efforts at capitalizing on China’s latest buzz, whether that be the partnering with virtual idols Reddi and Vila back in February 2022 or its more recent beauty-themed metaverse campaign, “Open Up Your Horizons.” 

Metaverse platform The Sandbox transformed its space into a Lunar New Year-inspired celebration. Photo: The Sandbox

The Sandbox’s Lunar New Year Campaign Targets China’s Gaming Communities And Fanbases

After a rocky year for virtual spaces, The Sandbox is ramping up its marketing efforts to usher in a global audience. For the festive period, the platform launched a Lunar New Year event that allows users to engage with popular PC gaming characters and enjoy an immersive playing adventure. The campaign also offered an extensive reward pool to audiences. Prizes in the game ranged from 200,000 SAND and NFT prizes to virtual “Chinese Dragon” mystery boxes, which included limited PFPs.

The project taps a new generation of players and loyal fan communities across the mainland — a move that could reap lucrative returns if the platform plays its cards right. Moreover, the roll-out was free of charge to visitors, making it widely accessible to China’s netizens wanting to explore the new terrain. The Sandbox’s decision to host giveaways and incentivized activities helpsto empower the mainland’s consumers as they onboard onto Web3, as well as introduce them to digital-native assets such as LAND and NFTs in the process. 

The fast-food giant teamed up with digital creator Karen X Cheng on its new Lunar New Year campaign. Photo: McDonalds

McDonald’s Takes A Tech-Forward Approach For The Holidays 

Right now, the power of AI is on every major player’s radar, including fast food titan McDonald’s. The takeout giant teamed up with prolific digital content creator Karen X Cheng to launch an interactive, multi-functional campaign commemorating the Lunar New Year. Alongside the advertisement, which honors Cheng’s American-Chinese heritage, the partnership also included an augmented reality (AR) filter on Instagram and a metaverse experience hosted on Spatial.

The campaign was well-received on global social platforms, with Cheng reposting the AR filter to her Instagram and receiving over 24,500 likes. But it fell short at gaining public traction via China’s dedicated channels such as Weibo and WeChat. Nevertheless, a campaign from a conglomerate on this scale is sure to bring the Chinaverse one step closer to commercialization, and highlights how companies can leverage the country’s top spending extravaganzas — such as the Spring Festival — through the metaverse.

Taobao launched a livestream metaverse space ahead of the Lunar New Year. Photo: Xiaohongshu

Taobao Pushes E-Commerce To The Next Level Through Web3 Technology For Chinese New Year 

E-tailer mammoth Taobao debuted its first domestic livestream space ahead of 2023’s Lunar New Year. The initiative unveiled a metaverse marketplace that allows consumers to place orders in the online channel through giant advertisement screens. In addition to virtual try-ons and a 360-degree product browsing option, audiences could access other benefits to elevate their shopping experience, including an offline parcel collecting service. 

The metaverse is revolutionizing retail. While brick-and-mortar businesses faced challenging periods as a result of the government’s former zero-COVID policy, Taobao still boasts around 800 million monthly active users across China. The leader’s new era of commerce has boded well with consumers, with netizens taking to socials such as Weibo to express their excitement about its latest development, as well as previous projects such as the company’s 618 “Metaverse Mall.” Overall, Taobao’s efforts are demonstrating just how rife the appetite for innovative, interactive retail channels across the country is. 

In Tmall’s latest metaverse exhibition, iconic covers from Playboy have been redesigned by the likes of Li-Ning and Coach. Photo:

Playboy Is Tmall’s Latest Muse For E-Commerce Leader’s Metaverse Exhibition

On January 4, Tmall launched a special digital exhibition in its dedicated metaverse space, Heyspace. The showcase features a curated collection of experiences from more than 20 brands across all industry sectors including F&B and clothing. To commemorate the Year of the Rabbit, the exhibition largely draws inspiration from the iconic American Playboy label, but also includes special presentations from Disney and Coca-Cola. Alongside benefits such as virtual consultations and 360-degree product browsing, visitors are also able to browse a main virtual room, which is home to a number of recreated Playboy covers spanning all decades and representing all artistic and cultural backgrounds — including an exclusive poster from Chinese sportswear giant Li-Ning. 

With strong competitors in the mix, Tmall is pulling out all the stops for this year’s Spring Festival. Honoring a cultural icon like Playboy may be a risky move (others opted for safer routes such as Miffy and Bugs Bunny) but it seems to be one that has paid off. In addition to honoring the rich history of Playboy — a label that has garnered a strong image across the mainland among fashion-conscious consumers and Gen Z — the exhibition demonstrates Tmall’s awareness of maintaining cultural relevance in a fast-paced space like the metaverse.


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