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NEWSLETTER Ploughing Ahead in the Year of the Ox!

The Year of the Ox is upon us! In Chinese culture, the Ox is seen as a down-to-earth and hard-working animal, slowly but surely ploughing the fields to prepare the soil for the harvest. Like the Ox, brands will have to work hard to keep and win cautious consumers’ share of wallet, while our researchers and data scientists will be studying the evolving consumer behaviour very closely, to pulse check trends across markets and uncover where opportunities lie.

THE YEAR OF THE OX
While Chinese consumers’ mood this year is certainly better compared to the past year, with the pandemic under control and the economy growing again, continued travel restrictions will however prevent many Chinese from visiting their hometown and their family and relatives. Limited overseas travel will keep money and consumption within China, with budgets from travel spend diverted to other outlets.

Each year brands aim to capitalize on the CNY festivity and imagery to provide a sense of belonging and connection with consumers. Some brands, for example Red Bull and Mengniu, use humor this year, calling on people to not worry about difficulties and to rekindle friendships.

Most luxury brands, such as Burberry, LV and local jewelry brands Chow Sang Sang and Chow Tai Fook, incorporate the sketched-out outline of the Ox into their logo, patterns or as an inspiration for product design (Burberry’s hat), without deeper meaning associations to the zodiac symbol.

But many brands eschew the graphical representation of the Ox to focus on CNY traditional time for family reunions and reconciliation. Alipay, for example, focuses its marketing campaign on this year feelings of longingness because many families will not be able to reunite for CNY, creating a short film titles “Wang” (“Expect”) which asks the viewer to reflect on the meaning of “happiness” and “reunion”.
Alipay’s short film “Wang” (“Expect”)

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE YEAR OF THE OX?
While last year it was very difficult for luxury companies to promote their brand given the somber mood, we at Agility believe it is time for luxury brands to start reconnecting again with their loyal customers in China. We see consumers showing a desire to going back to a normal life, when people can again think in positive terms about their future, having had their fair share of Covid fatigue.

We believe that retail sales will experience a boost during this CNY. More affluent consumers will stay put in cities where they reside, instead of travelling to their ancestral home or travel overseas. Retail shopping, food & beverage and other leisure activities will certainly benefit. Consumers will pay more attention to themselves. Beauty and skincare products and health care products will be more popular. Spending more time at home also makes consumers more inclined to buy goods that create a comfortable home environment.

Our data shows that consumers are once again ready to feel positive: brands should tactically offer promotions, discounts, benefits and privileges, positioned as a “reward” for consumers’ hard work last year, and to wish them “prosperity and luck” for the coming new year. The Ox in Chinese tradition symbolizes “awesome”, “capable”, “amazing”, all qualities that Chinese consumers hope will be the defining traits this year.

Livestreaming will continue to evolve: more consumers have become adept at using technology not only to consume, but also create, content. Brands are taking advantage of this trend: Prada encouraged consumers to record videos with the brand Logo modified specifically for the Year of the Ox, and share their new year resolutions on social media.

As for us, our mission does not change. We, at Agility, will continue to work as hard as the Ox to help luxury brands navigate and understand the mindset of affluent and HNW consumers, to understand how the luxury market is evolving and where the opportunities lie.

We take this opportunity to wish all our clients great successes and a prosperous Year of the Ox!


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