This September 21st, millions of Chinese families and friend will gather together to enjoy the mid-autumn festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival. Rooted in ancient Chinese tradition of moon worship, this festival has been a public holiday since 2008. While many people celebrate in traditional ways, by eating mooncakes and gazing at the moon, others mark the holiday by shopping, eating and simply enjoying the break from work. This year, many brands will join in the celebration, leveraging the holiday and its themes of togetherness, reuniting with family and friends, and good fortune to build brand awareness and engage customers.
The festival is rooted in ancient tradition and closely tied to seasonal harvests. Chinese emperors worshipped moon goddess every fall in hopes of good yields. Over time, this moon worship became popular with merchant elites, who held luxurious dance gatherings and feasts to honor the moon, and with the masses, who prayed to the moon for bountiful crops. The celebrations eventually became a mid-autumn tradition and was officially set on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. The lunar festival continues to be a time for families and friends to gather, eat mooncakes, exchange gifts and celebrate community and good fortune.
With such a major holiday, it’s no wonder international brands are using it to engage customers. And with mooncakes being such an essential and popular part of the festival – no matter the size, flavor, filling, or design – they represent a delicious business opportunity. Last year, FENDI featured its adorable “Fendidi” panda in a 15-second animation launched across their Weibo, WeChat and Red Book accounts to promote a unique mooncake giveaway campaign. The campaign fused three themes that carry weight with Chinese customers at this time of year – the moon, the family and China’s national treasure, pandas!
Mooncakes are the essential gift item leading up to the mid-autumn festival. They’re shared between family and friends and between colleagues and business partners. They’re even being used more and more as networking tools, to show respect or status or to mark the importance of a relationship. More and more status brands and fashion houses, from Dior, to Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Gucci, are noting the trend and getting on board, offering branded mooncakes in deluxe packaging, with social media campaigns on top platforms to build excitement and awareness.
Specialty food and beverage companies headquartered in the US and Europe, such as Starbucks, Lindt and Häagen-Dazs, are offering special mooncake sets with branded designs dedicated to mid-autumn themes. Leveraging the popularity of mooncakes is a great way for Western companies to participate in Chinese culture while showcasing their product and raising brand awareness. Among Chinese urbanites, the more gourmet and sophisticated the flavour, the better!
Family reunions and family togetherness are a major part of the Moon Festival and fashion house Tory Burch built its campaign around that theme. Followers were invited to share heartfelt family stories on Weibo for a chance to win a secret prize directly from the brand. While families often celebrate eating meals or making lanterns together, younger people like exchanging gifts as an expression of love and togetherness. La Mer’s festival-themed gift set showed customers that traditional gifts, like mooncakes, fruit and paper lanterns, weren’t the only options for the mid-autumn festival. Cosmetics and beauty care showed care and concern for family and friends just as well. To gamify the campaign, inject more fun, and prove that dedicated followers are repeat buyers, La Mer ran an “Empties Challenge,” asking followers to share photos of their empty skincare bottles.
For a creative marketing mind, the mooncake is a perfect canvas on which to build a branded social media campaign. The mid-autumn festival is an excellent opportunity for global brands to re-imagine their products around themes of family, fortune and longevity at the same time they show respect for Chinese cultural traditions and make that all-important connection with Chinese customers.