Why Mid-Autumn Festival Is China’s Fashion-Food Moment

Crossovers between consumer goods and fashion have become commonplace for brands aiming to rebrand themselves and expand their consumer bases. Collaborations like Supreme x Skittles, Fila x Starbucks, Innisfree x Glico, or Dove x McCafé have diversified fashion and beauty players’ product portfolios and driven social buzz around new drops.

With this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival just around the corner, the traditional occasion for family reunions will surely be an indispensable opportunity for brands to impress their Chinese shoppers. As Jing Daily’s latest report, Chinese Cultural Consumers: The Future of Luxury, points out, modern consumer goods infused with Chinese cultural elements as key selling points have shaped the country’s booming Guochao (or national trend) scene. As such, brands must incorporate Chinese heritage and showcase a dedication to traditional culture when tapping into nostalgia trends.

Among the marketing tactics used to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, mooncake gift boxes are the most common. However, making mooncakes with authentic flavors is not as easy as designing their boxes. As such, brands would maximize their interests by collaborating with homegrown Chinese consumer goods companies or local restaurants rather than making their own mooncakes.

Among the mooncake collaboration rivalries this year, cultural institutions have been taking the lead. The Met and Shanghai Museums partnered with China’s largest snack food retailer, Lyfen, to launch mooncake boxes inspired by objects in each museum collection. More interestingly, the collaboration was even endorsed by Lyfen’s brand ambassador, Wang Yibo, and released on Tmall’s Little Black Box (the platform’s gateway for product debuts).

The Met x Lyfen mooncake collab receives endorsement from Wang Yibo. Photo: Lyfen’s Weibo

The Louvre Museum teamed up with Häagen-Dazs China to roll out ice cream mooncakes that feature goddesses throughout art history, such as the Venus and the Mona Lisa. Meanwhile, Häagen-Dazs’ Tmall users can visit virtual Louvre exhibitions and engage in lottery drawings, where they can win complimentary mooncakes and Louvre cultural products.

Tmall users can win gifts by visiting the Louvre Museum’s online exhibition. Photo: Häagen-Dazs’ Weibo

Elsewhere, the military gaming competition Game For Peace has collaborated with the most well-known Beijing pastry, Dao Xiang Cun, to drop a mooncake box in both Canton and Suzhou-style desserts.

In addition to cultural players, fashion brands have connected with local food partners in China. In August, Anna Sui Active, alongside the two-Michelin-starred contemporary French restaurant L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Shanghai, co-launched a mooncake box with six fusion flavors, as well as a porcelain plate with the designer’s signature purple floral prints. These locally recognized pastries and restaurants are not only quality-proof options for brands outside the food industry, but they help them resonate with Chinese consumers worldwide.

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Collabs and Drops, Global, Marketing