Golden Week: 5 Ways Brands Can Make Their Message Count During China’s ‘Shopping Festival’

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Brands should not ignore Golden Week, argues the new report, “The Chinese Golden Weeks In Fast Growth Cities”. (WPP)

China’s fall Golden Week is upon us, a time when Chinese citizens celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China through traveling and—what else?—a lot of shopping.

That holiday shopping should be a key focus of retailers’ China marketing strategies, argues a new report on “The Chinese Golden Weeks In Fast Growth Cities” by WPP with contributions by BrandZ and several other consultancies. By examining the purchasing attitudes and behaviors of consumers in China’s fastest growing cities during both the fall and spring Golden Weeks, the report aims to shed light on the most effective practices brands can take when marketing during the run-up to these important Chinese holiday seasons. Look below for five of the major tips provided by the report on what brands can do to optimize their Golden Week profit potential.

Look to the fastest growing cities. According to the study, brands focusing only on first-tier cities are missing out on the action, as the second- and third-tier cities are the places where incomes are rapidly rising and many consumers are looking to “upgrade” many items they own as both their spending power and purchase sophistication quickly grow.

Prepare early and perpetually. The report finds that a substantial number of shoppers begin preparing for holiday shopping either a month or more in advance. The chart below shows the results of a survey that finds a full third of shoppers in second- and third-tier cities start planning their Labor Day shopping a month in advance, while 10 percent begin planning earlier than that. In addition, because Golden Weeks happen more than once a year, when one holiday ends, brands should already be strategizing for the next.

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Make your message resonate. Because Golden Week is such a major shopping time, every marketer is trying to get in on the action, meaning consumers are bombarded with  advertising. “There’s a lot of noise around Golden Weeks,” says the report, “and just being louder doesn’t cut it.” Brands should be visible in both traditional media as well as online and on microblogs in order to make sure consumers have “encountered the brand message many times” before the shopping week arrives.

Use in-store promotions wisely. Once customers begin their shopping, they are “bombarded in the stores by a cacophony of messages from sales people representing different products and promoters marching the aisles and loudly advocating for their brands.” As a result, brands need to be sure that their in-store promotions “cleverly continue the brand story communicated during the run-up to the Golden Weeks” in order to make sure customers don’t tune them out with the rest of the noise.

Don’t forget the free gift. “The free gifts added when a deal is closed may seem trivial,” argues the report, but “they are not trivial to the recipients. They’re important cultural and emotional expressions of respect that signal to shoppers that their patronage is valued.”

If it’s not already clear, one thing that brands should not do, argues the study, is steer clear of Golden Week. Referring to the holiday as a “shopping festival” for Chinese consumers, it states, “Ignoring the Golden Weeks opportunity is equivalent to skipping the December holiday season.”

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