The Chinese New Year is coming up, and international retailers are rolling out special new lines to attract Chinese customers.
Called the year of the goat, sheep, or ram, most likely due to the three words sharing a character (goat: 山羊, sheep: 羊, ram: 公羊), whichever animal customers prefer can be found on goods from footwear, handbags, clothes to food and everything in between.
Last year, according to Business of Fashion, Chinese shoppers spent 200 billion yuan during the holiday through UnionPay cards alone. This marked an increase of 23 percent compared to 2013, and includes spending abroad.
With the luxury spending slowdown in China that has already begun, and is expected to deepen in 2015, retailers are working harder than ever to attract Chinese shoppers for the Chinese New Year.
Adidas, which has had a busy year expanding in China, has introduced product lines featuring both the goat and the sheep. According to Brand Channel, in addition to apparel and shoes being branded with 羊, the character for sheep, Adidas is also releasing limited-edition Year of the Goat versions of its Superstar and D Rose 5 Boost sneakers.
Nike, Reebok, Vans, and Puma, which is offering a Year of the Sheep four pack, have all jumped on the New Year trend. Italian luxury brand Hogan is offering ram-emblazoned footwear and handbags.
Luxury watchmakers Piaget, Chopard, Panerai Luminor, Jaquet Droz, Vacheron Constantin, and Swatch, have all released special designs for the holiday as well.
The large number of watchmakers introducing Chinese New Year designs should come as no surprise. With sales of watches in mainland China down 13 percent in 2014, according to ECNS, watchmakers must fight for sales.
Fashion brands, such as Diane Von Furstenburg with her Lucky Sheep Envelope Clutch, have also embraced the trend.
However, as Burberry has learned the hard way, Chinese consumers will turn against a brand if they feel the holiday is being used as a cash grab. The company was recently embroiled in controversy on Weibo after the release of its Chinese New Year scarf, which features the “Fu” character, meaning prosperity. Chinese consumers were miffed due to the scarf costing over $200 more than the regular version, which is the exact same other than the added “Fu” character, reports The Wall Street Journal.
One retailer that has learned how to woo Chinese New Year shoppers is Bloomingdale’s, which recently became available to China’s online shoppers. The American upscale department store has hired 193 Chinese speaking associates, both Mandarin and Cantonese, at locations nationwide. At its tourist hot spots in New York, Chicago, Miami, and San Francisco, the store will offer special savings passes and a gift with every purchase.
The company will also offer specially branded lines curated by its fashion office at select locations, which include Godiva chocolate, Baccarat, Chloé, Fendi, MCM, Salvatore Ferragamo, and more, according to MarketWatch.
Despite the slowdown in the luxury market, there is still clearly money to be had for retailers over the Chinese New Year, and they are hoping the Year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram pays off.
image source: ncburton, adidas, burberry