As the UK’s appetite for world food continues to grow, so does the opportunity to use food focused festivals as a way to attract customers. And what better way to boost a quiet January than to celebrate Chinese New Year on 31st January with a fifteen day festival menu. According to Brian Yip, Director at leading Oriental food grocer, Wing Yip, it’s the perfect way for retailers to generate a buzz post-Christmas with meal deals, promotions on lucky foods and for the more adventurous host a lucky dragon dance.
“The period between Christmas and Valentine’s Day is often quiet, with very few opportunities for retailers to leverage, so Chinese New Year offers a real chance to boost sales. It’s a huge celebration among Chinese communities and is the longest running festival.
“Asian and Oriental cuisine is fast becoming one of the most popular in the UK. More and more TV food programmes are featuring chefs who are using and experimenting with a raft of authentic Oriental ingredients in their dishes.
“Reviewing lines which tap into Chinese New Year traditions and customs are a great way to move products and also start an uplift in sales. Many existing product lines could also be adapted to suit the Chinese New Year theme. For example items such as oranges, fish and noodles, which are deemed lucky in Chinese culture, should all be placed in the direct line of customers. Point of sales fixtures and signage are also key to attracting customer’s attention to these themed products.
“The family reunion meal on New Year’s Eve is the most important meal in the Chinese calendar and equivalent to Christmas dinner in the West – only with even more dishes, so families will be looking to stock up for this occasion. A traditional New Year dinner includes fish, as the word for fish sounds similar to another Chinese word meaning ‘to be blessed every year’. Dumplings are popular as they look similar to traditional Chinese gold bars and symbolise wealth. Hosts often treat guests to eight individual courses, as eight is considered a lucky number in China.
“Chinese food is for sharing and so platters of nibbles and snacks like spring rolls, prawn crackers and dim sum will be an instant hit. Don’t forget the disposable chopsticks, which add a traditional feel to any themed event. And no Chinese New Year is complete without the colour red so bright red and gold decorations, including red lanterns, tablecloths, napkins and fortune cookies should be made available alongside Chinese New Year themed food.
“The Wing Yip sauce range has a strong appeal to customers because they are truly authentic products, made to authentic recipes and to the highest quality. They enable retailers to offer a premium range of products to their customers, which in turn drive loyalty and credibility, together with good margins. The most popular dishes are always the ones with the strongest flavours, such as sweet and sour, spicy Szechuan and black bean. Sauces such as the Wing Yip Chinese Fried Rice Sauce and the Wing Yip Singapore Noodle Paste are another good line as they are easy to use and can transform dishes in an instant.
“Meal deals are a great way to get the most out of a Chinese promotion – free beer or lager with every main meal is a popular option. Eastern beers such as Tsingtao complement the strong flavours of Chinese cuisine perfectly.
“If you are feeling bold this Chinese New Year you could even have a dragon dance at the store and offer promotions and samples of Chinese food. At each of our four Wing Yip stores we are having a lucky dragon dance to wish us good luck and a prosperous year.
“For ideas on in-store promotions and Chinese New Year menu ideas follow Wing Yip on Twitter @wingyipstore.”