Rob Mackenzie is a brand experience designer based in Hong Kong. With over 11 years experience in international branding agencies working for leading global brands including: adidas, Chow Tai Fook, SanDisk, P&G, Fujifilm, Virgin, Barclays, Suning, Philip Morris, BP, Walkers and Emaar. Here he shares his thoughts on Chinese New Year and Hong Kong retail.
Christmas and New Year are still fresh memories and China has yet another event to celebrate. This year’s CNY ushers in the Year of the Snake. And if you compare this year’s festivities with last year’s big celebrations for the Dragon, this year is a little more constrained. 2012 saw brands jump to emblazon products with Dragons and sprinkled packaging with signs of good luck and fortune.
Known as the Chunyun period, the ‘Spring Festival’ or Chinese New Year sees the world’s largest human migration. China’s population takes to the roads, travelling home to their families and hit the shops to spend their cash.
Some brands such as Tiffany's and Burberry have little or no CYN celebrations. Many stores have shied away compared to last year, with several brands focusing more on Valentine's. However Esprit have gone for a full fascia LED animation to take over the street. Luxury brands such as Chanel still had long lines of customers snaking outside of their stores at 9.30pm on most evenings leading up to CNY.
Hong Kong's Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui and the many of shopping centers explode at this time of year. It's a buying frenzy. The customary giving period allows consumerism to go on overdrive. Every brand stocks up for the big sell.
The local Apple store in the International Finance Centre (IFC) called me to come along to their one day CNY shopping sale, with a few hundred dollars off here and there. The queues wrapped around the store with up to an hour wait and products were flying off the shelf quicker than they could put them through the cash tills.
Still in the IFC, Dunhill opened their first customisation store, offering only products that are personalised and made to order. I was at the adidas store recently, looking for a new pair of running shoes. I knew what model to get but the staff were keen for me to switch to a lucky red pair even though unsuitable! Chinese consumer's reaction to brands is very demanding. They want the very latest thing, while demanding that brands retain their exclusivity. It's a tricky balancing act.
People are very generous and thoughtful in their gifting but I do wonder if the environment considered and if it is sustainable. The waste is vast. The production methods are often cheap and for most brands the manufacturing is ill-considered.
KUNG HEI FAT CHOI!