Branded ang paos: Why they still matter in the age of digital

In light of Chinese New Year season, several brands such as Standard Chartered and Citibank have taken the non-traditional route to ang paos this year given the surge of cashless red packets.Ā  Meanwhile, DBS Bank took a notch further as its launched a loadable QR red packet. The DBS QR ang pao allows DBS PayLah! users to eliminate the use of cash, while still carrying on the act of giving this Chinese New Year.

But this is not to say traditional ang paos have lost their charm. In fact, many brands have gone above and beyond to create beautiful brandedĀ ang paos for the occasion. With each lunar calendar unveiling new themes,Ā Katie Ewer, strategy director, JKR said to Marketing that there is no shortage of “iconography” at the disposal of the designers, brands and businesses in creating these physical ang paos.

Just like anything in marketing, Ewer said that the issuance of red packets is a battle for brands to get noticed and chosen. She added, “Who wouldnā€™t choose the fabulous Hermes Year of the Dog ang pao over some hum-drum edition from a supermarket or bank? Great design is the discriminator ā€“ immediate, compelling and distinctive.”

“With businesses giving away red packets in the run up to Lunar New Year, the objective is to get selected to carry good fortune (and cash), so your brand finds itself directly placed in the hands of one consumer, passed on from another (with no commission charged!). With each transferral, your brand hopefully benefits from positive associations of wealth and good fortune,” Ewer said.

In a statement to Marketing, Cheryl Lim, VP, head of branding, communications and sponsorships, Manulife said that distributing physical ang paos to its clients and customers creates a point of contact or connection. She added that it is an extension of the brand, as the red packet bears the logo and is distributed by its agents. According to Lim, physical ang paos are still functional in its usage, in today’s day and age.

Sharon Lim, senior vice president, retail banking department marketing said thatĀ the response from customers and clients over the limited edition ang paos has been ā€œoverwhelmingā€ since its first launch in 2012. The bank looks to strengthen its brand awareness as well as increase its reach on social media.

Giving ang paos during Chinese New Year is a revered custom, Dinesh Sandhu, managing director, DIA Brands said, adding that it bestows luck on both the giver and receiver. Brands have produced these red packets for years and also as an extension of its Chinese New Year campaigns.

“It is an opportunity to literally put the brand in the hands of consumers. It is also an opportunity for creative latitude and expression.”

Sandhu said that in order for brands to ensure its ang paos are giving a return on investment, it has to incorporate a technology element in it. These can be in the form of a QR code thatĀ transports the user to a brand story to build salience, he explained, saying that the incorporation of technology will be able to provide some semblance of ROI.

“Honestly though, itā€™s a red packet for Chinese New Year. Does every single item need to demonstrate ROI? What happened to tradition and culture that is synonymous with the festival,” he said. He added that over the years, companies use this festive season to promote its services, products and brand by printing creatively designed red packets for its customers and clients. This has led to some aesthetically pleasing packets. Here are some of the brands which came up with creative designs:



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