Starbucks announced in early January 2014 that it has introduced gift cards at select locations in China. According to the press release, the cards come in three unique designs – Happy Lunar New Year, Kind Regards and Thank You. Unfortunately, the cards are not available in the prosperous Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu markets where coffee consumption has become quite widespread.
Starbucks China president Belinda Wong is correct to say that “the Lunar New Year is a time when family and friends gather to meet, connect and share stories.” So it is good marketing by Starbucks to associate itself with the Lunar New Year, a period when consumers loosen their wallets.
Coffee drinking can be foreign to Chinese consumers but it is no longer a novel beverage. Coffee has been made accessible thanks to the spread of Starbucks and a host of Taiwanese and local pseudo, hybrid coffee chains in the country where steak and Chinese tea are served alongside your normal cup of espresso.
There is a potential to make coffee drinking part of the Lunar New Year consumption/gift-giving ritual as premium coffee goes well with the hamper.
Brands are working hard to themselves part of the Lunar New Year ritual. Below are two examples, one in China and one in Malaysia.
Minute Maid in China encourages consumers to shake the Minute Maid bottle in a traditional gesture so that you can easily achieve what you want in life including love and career.
In Malaysia, Nestle’s Maggi instant noodle wants Malaysians to celebrate Chinese New Year with its instant noodle through the local ritual of performing the Prosperity Toss or Lou Sang. In this example, Maggi instant noodle is used in place of shredded vegetables.