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How technology changes Chinese New Year – and influenced old and new traditions

Technology that brings concrete benefits changes everything – even a traditional holiday

By Wirecard Editorial Team
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Chinese New Year, also commonly known as Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, is probably one of the most significant holidays for ethnic Chinese communities. In addition to China, countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and many more also celebrate the festival as a public holiday, which has a significant impact on the economic activity in many parts of Asia.

Travels during this time of the year tend to be reserved for family bonding and indulging in food and leisure activities that families can enjoy together. According to an article by South China Morning Post, tourists from the mainland are expected to make 450 million trips – both domestic and abroad – for the 2020 Lunar New Year holiday between January 24 and 30.

Fueling Asia’s food delivery boom

Eating together as a family is at the center of celebrations.. Traditional dishes are typically served during the Chinese New Year, bringing friends and families together.

Chinese New Year Shopping
Source: Wikipedia

Traditionally, most family reunion dinners were large home-cooked meals. Today, technology is bringing generations together just by tapping an app – thanks to food delivery services. By ordering takeaway food, consumers are able to avoid market and restaurant crowds, and days of preparation in the kitchen. In 2020, we can also expect an increasing number of consumers in China who are opting for healthier food options – as the health conscious movement is likely to stay, according to McKinsey’s China consumer report 2020.

While the appetite for ordering food is particularly high on public holidays, you can feel it all year round. In terms of revenues, China has become the world’s largest market with an estimated volume of over US$45 billion in 2020 – far ahead of countries like the USA or India, as you can see here:

Source: Statista, January 2020


Besides that, China is also the most dynamic food delivery market worldwide – for the period 2018-2023 experts predict a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just under 11%:

Revenue forecast in million US$ in China; the dark red part is for the Restaurant-to-Consumer Delivery, the upper red part is for Platform-to-Consumer Delivery. (Source: Statista, eServices Report 2019 – Online Food Delivery)

Why technology is a key driver for the food delivery boom in Asia

Rising purchasing power, increasing smartphone usage and demand for convenience have contributed to the growing popularity of food delivery apps. However, these factors alone do not explain this huge boom. Instead, it is worth taking a closer look at the technology behind it.

First of all, we have to distinguish between two very different types of food delivery concepts:

  • Restaurant-to-Consumer Delivery(R2C) means meals are ordered online and are directly delivered by the restaurant, no matter if ordered via a restaurant website or a platform.
  • Platform-to-Consumer Delivery (P2C) means the online meal order and delivery are both carried out by a platform.

As shown in the chart above, experts see an enormous growth potential, especially in the platform-to-consumer variant. While overall growth of 59.22% is predicted for R2C in the five-year window, P2C will grow by an impressive 82.42% by 2023.

Platforms today offer immense opportunities for businesses to deliver an end-to-end customer experience. These platforms allow customers to compare and order meals from a variety of restaurants through a single app or website and also provide logistics for the restaurant. This simplifies the food ordering process and enhances the overall user experience. On the other hand, companies can leverage information via big data to get a better idea about customer preferences and create a richer experience.

Holiday travel and shopping made easier with intelligent technology

Apart from the food and beverage industry, technology has also changed the way consumers travel during the holiday period. According to Xinhua news, people in China made 415 million domestic trips during the Lunar New Year holiday in 2019, an increase of 7.6 percent from the same period last year.

With the rise in travel comes the need for better travel payments. Travelers today seek deeper engagement in the places they visit, and payments play an important role in their travel journey to achieve that perfect holiday experience.

For instance, brands are increasingly offering multi-currency travel cards, which help solve the two primary pain points of today’s traveler – fluctuating exchange rates and costly foreign exchange fees. This helps travelers to save money while traveling during the peak season – when it’s also the most expensive.

Travelers also appreciate the travel cards for the fact that they are convenient and secure. Wirecard’s multi-currency travel card allows travelers to manage their transactions through a smartphone app, which they can exchange for major foreign currencies wherever they are, with just a few clicks. This removes the hassle of dealing with leftover cash. When lost or stolen, the card can also be deactivated immediately, which makes travel cards much safer than cash or old school traveler’s checks. To further the trend of cashless payments, Wirecard has partnered with United Money and Ctrip to offer multi-currency cards to Chinese customers who enjoy international travel, and a similar solution in Singapore with FXChange.

As the tourism industry continues to flourish, especially in Asia, both brands and retailers should be aware of the opportunity that these travelers represent. It is crucial for brands to make the payment process seamless, offer local preferred payment methods and also tailor the checkout experience to local preferences and customers. This can help brands to boost customer loyalty and sales.

Source: Wikipedia

Tradition is reinforced by technology, not replaced

As technology evolves and becomes a part of daily life, it enhances traditions instead of replacing them. While it might be nostalgic for some of the older generations to spend days in the kitchen preparing food for their families prior to Chinese New Year, most are supportive of these new developments such as platform-based delivery apps – as long as the tradition of eating together as a family still stays. This is also really what the celebration is all about – to be able to spend as much time with family as you can.

During Chinese New Year, millions head home to spend time with their loved ones. For those who are traveling this holiday season, they can also expect a seamless and enjoyable experience thanks to the increasing adoption rates of modern technology. Airports, for instance, are already using technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality to drive enhanced customer experiences; whereas companies are also offering multi-currency travel cards which enable customers and employees to pay easily and securely worldwide.

As we look ahead, technology will continue to put a new spin on traditions and drive enhanced customer experiences. Here’s wishing you and your family a very Happy Lunar New Year!

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