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Chinese New Year marketing ideas for universities & education providers

February 8, 2021 |   Ada Wang

The marketing landscape becomes saturated with Chinese New Year themed campaigns as Spring Festival rolls around each year, so to help keep your audience of prospective and current students engaged, we recommend using these 5 ideas to promote your institution for Chinese New Year:

1. Host events on campus
2. Promote local events
3. Create seasonal posts on WeChat
4. Inspire user-generated content
5. Get alumni involved

Host Chinese New Year themed events on or offline

Especially at time where homes are usually filled with family and friends and COVID-19 travel restrictions are still in place, Chinese students might be feeling a bit homesick. Hosting Chinese New Year related events (depending on your local restrictions either in person or online) is a great way to show that you care about the experience of your international students, as well as provide a valuable cultural exchange between Chinese and non-Chinese students.

Here are some ideas that might get your Chinese students into the festive spirit:

Dumpling Night: Host a night where students can make, cook, and eat their own dumplings. This would be a great way for students to spend time with each other while enjoying a nice home cooked meal. It’s also something that could easily translate into an online setting if one Chinese takes on the role of tutor and teaches other participant how to make their own.

Chinese New Year Scavenger Hunt: Who doesn’t love red pockets filled with chocolates or even some small prizes like an Apple store? Host a scavenger hunt where students will need to go around campus to find red pockets – an exercise that can be fun and sociable while still maintaining physical distancing.

Chinese New Year Dinner: Talk to your local Chinese restaurant and host a catered night filled with Chinese food! Tickets can be sold at an affordable price and students can enjoy a dinner surrounded by friends.

Promote local events

Chinese international students may still be getting to know their local area. Help point them in the right direction by promoting Chinese New Year events around campus, such as the local Chinese New Year parade or the best Chinese restaurants around the city – and include info on how they can stay COVID-Safe while still enjoying the festivities.

While promoting the events, gather a group of students to attend these events together! This can be a great way for Chinese students to make long lasting friends while encouraging event attendance.

Speak to local businesses such as pubs, cafes, and restaurants to collaborate on a student discount. After all, who doesn’t love a good discount!

Create seasonal posts on WeChat

A simple way to connect with Chinese international students at your institution and make them feel included is by posting seasonal posts on WeChat. (Remember, most international students will remain on the social media platforms they use at home -- and for the vast majority of Chinese international students, that means WeChat.)

A word of warning, though: with countless businesses vying for their share of the holiday spending flurry and marketing engines going into overdrive at this time of the year, the Chinese consumer is growing tired of lazy marketers who simply slap a zodiac animal onto some red and gold themed content

So, make your Chinese New Year holiday marketing stand out by respectfully theming your content without it appearing tokenistic and engage your audience on real issues, with a sincere voice. And if you are going to include a representation of this year’s Metal Ox, make sure it doesn’t look like a dairy cow!

Inspire user-generated content

Chinese social media can become a bit saturated with branded Chinese New Year content at this time of the year causing many to tune out of the generic flood of sameness. How can you make yours stand out? We highly recommend creating campaigns that encourage your audience to generate their own content and share their creations.

As Chinese students living overseas, you may want to prompt them to reflect on their favourite Chinese New Year memories and share their stories through social media. It can be a great way for your institution to foster your community of international students and celebrate cultural diversity. You could even reward the most touching or entertaining stories with a small prize.

Reconnect with alumni

Alumni can be amazing advocates for your institution, but unfortunately they are often overlooked in marketing activities – especially when it comes to alumni who have returned to their home country. A solid Chinese alumni engagement campaign can have significant benefits.

Alumni networking can be one of the most powerful tools a higher education institution can practice. Many people often consider university to be an important milestone in their lives, therefore, the connection between them and their alma mater can be quite strong.

Chinese New Year can be a great opportunity to reconnect with alumni. Prior to Chinese New Year, reach out to your alumni via your dedicated WeChat group or email and see if any alumni would like to take part in an event. From there, plan out what resources you have to create an amazing alumni event for current students.

Some examples could include:

Student and alumni networking night: Connect current students and alumni who share a study interest to share their insights about potential post study career paths. 

Alumni talk: Invite alumni to talk to students about their experiences at the institution and to give tips and tricks on how to make the most out of their experience at your university.

While there are lots of organisations vying for the attention of Chinese audiences during the Chinese New Year, it can still be a great opportunity for universities to create deeper connections with their Chinese international student cohort.

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