Will Bottega Veneta’s Gamble On Red Envelopes Deliver?

What Happened: As China welcomes the Year of the Tiger, luxury maison Bottega Veneta has been pushing the envelope. Following its spectacular takeover of the Great Wall of China, featuring the signature bright green and tangerine orange (which means good luck or 大吉大利) collection, it has now boldly replaced the customary “red envelope,” or hóngbāo, with unconventional yellow (and orange) versions — which also sports the brand’s name on the front in its bright green font. 

The orange version of Bottega Veneta’s red envelope. Photo: Weibo

Traditionally, red envelopes, or red pockets, contain monetary gifts and are given to friends and family during holidays and special occasions. Red is the country’s signature color and symbolizes good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture. Yellow, despite its associations with prosperity and royalty, is not usually associated with the Lunar New Year.

The Jing Take: Red is often overused, even misused, by brands looking to attract Chinese consumers — especially around the Lunar New Year. More often than not, these results fall flat. In light of this, it’s little wonder the Italian house decided to take a gamble on something different. Yellow and green (along with black, white, and red) are still part of the customary five colors of China. Even so, the unexpected swap out has generated a considerable buzz on social platforms — although with mixed reactions.  


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Still, the color never seems to loose its appeal. Data from the Tmall Trend Center shows that red is increasingly becoming the mainstream color in Chinese consumers’ shopping carts. Sales of red products in the run up to the New Year increased significantly month-on-month, with sales of red sneakers, stationery, mobile phone cases, pet clothes, and other products having increased by more than 1,000 percent. Given this, what prompted Bottega Veneta to take such a risk? Especially when, while some brands were experimenting with electronic, customizable red envelopes, Bottega Veneta stuck firmly to a paper version.  

Recommended ReadingWhy Luxury Loves Virtual Red EnvelopesBy Lisa Nan

Here, a company defined by heritage, has broken with tradition. But it’s a distinctively old-fashioned stunt, one based on the medium rather than the message. Paradoxically, it has allowed them to maintain their brand identity and focus whilst still creating interest. Because, whichever way you look at it, Bottega Veneta is now trending in China.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.