Even though the Lunar New Year officially begins on February 10, and festivities will last through February 24, US retailers and eager consumers have already begun celebrating in earnest. From food and beverage brands like Tsingtao to fashion houses like Fendi, Lunar New Year is being honoured with collections and events inspired by this year’s animal in the Chinese zodiac, the wood dragon. Tsingtao, the internationally known brand of beer produced by China’s second-largest brewery, is c
, is collaborating with four of New York City’s most innovative Chinese dining destinations Hutong, MáLà Project, Milu, and Hunan Slurp to welcome in the Year of the Dragon. From January 30 to February 12, these popular eateries will feature a series of exclusive Tsingtao-infused meals and drinks, offering a contemporary twist on each restaurant’s classic dishes. For example, Hunan Slurp will be serving ‘Beer Duck’, a duck braised in a rich sauce of chili pepper, ginger, and Tsingtao beer. Hutong will be serving ‘Xingréng Pijiu’, a beer cocktail combining Tsingtao with tomato juice, Maggi seasoning, and a blend of spices, along with a few other delicious details. In a release, Steve Hauser, CEO and president of Paulaner USA, the US distributor of Tsingtao, stated, “The Lunar New Year is a time of renewal and celebration. Tsingtao’s collaboration with these esteemed restaurants reflects the multifaceted nature of Chinese cuisine and the communal spirit of the occasion. Together, we are crafting a narrative that not only highlights the culinary prowess of these establishments but also the shared joy and prosperity that Tsingtao brings to tables across the city.” In a time when customers, now more than ever, are craving innovative and interactive experiences, like a perfume-focused pop-up “diner” or a scented shopping path, marketing campaigns such as these are a key way to drive organic social content and create a positive consumer-to-product association. Flying off the shelves In the Consumer Moments: Lunar New Year – Insights for 2024 report, Kayla Marci, a senior retail analyst at retail intelligence company Edited, predicted that retailers would be likely to invest in nostalgic licensing as part of their Lunar New Year merchandising options. For brands landing dedicated ranges, products embedded with nostalgia traditionally experience success for the holiday,” she explained. “The Year of the Dragon offers several scaly characters reminiscent of our childhoods alongside more recent pop culture editions.” Several examples Marci discussed in the report included Mushu from Mulan, Haku from Spirited Away, and Sisu from Raya and the Last Dragon. Since then, several fashion companies, from mid-tier brands to luxury houses, have been selling out with their recently launched or soon-to-be-dropped Lunar New Year collections. In December 2023, Fendi announced its collaboration with Pokémon and Japanese designer Hiroshi Fujiwara’s streetwear collective Fragment. The collection, which included items ranging from handbags to hoodies with Pokémon characters Dratini, Dragonair, and Dragonite, became available to the public on January 4. Only a few weeks post-release, the hot-ticket items in the collection, including the brand’s classic baguette mini (which retails for approximately US$3,000) with a reptilian twist, have already sold out and are on backorder. Beauty brands are also getting into the holiday spirit with limited-edition collections including Tower 28’s Kung Fu Panda-inspired gift set, which includes a red lip and cheek duo and an SOS spray (two of the brand’s star products), as well as a dumpling steamer, chopsticks, and a headband resembling the ears of a Panda bear. The set, which was released on January 6, is already sold out and has an extensive waitlist. While collections of this nature were certainly not as present in the American retail mindset even 10 years back, thanks to a growing interest in diverse holiday representation, holidays like Lunar New Year, Hanukkah, and Eid will continue to be a growing focus in the yearly commerce calendar. As Addison Cain, a beauty strategy and innovation manager at consumer behavior and trend analysis company Spate, shared, the number of Google searches for Lunar New Year averaged around 1.3 million, with searches experiencing a 5.7 per cent increase in comparison to the year prior. Judging by the number of sold-out Lunar New Year collections around the world, it doesn’t appear as if these numbers will be dropping anytime in the next few years.