February 19 will bring a new Lunar New Year, more colloquially know as “Chinese New Year.” It will also bring the next animal in the traditional lunar year 12-animal zodiac cycle. In the recent past brands have fallen over themselves to offer themed products to capitalize on the exploding Chinese consumer market.
Recent years have brought branded goodies celebrating the Year of the Dragon, the Year of the Snake and, last year, the Year of the Horse. Now get ready for the Year of the Sheep. Or the Goat. Or the Ram.[more]
Whatever animal you prefer, the coming Chinese New Year hasn’t been overly inspiring brands. That could be because unlike dragons and tigers, the year of the sheep is seen as comparatively undesirable, owing to the animal’s characterization as a meek follower.
Even so, many brands are plowing ahead with their sheep/goat/ram gear for Chinese consumers. As ever, there is a lot of CNY seasonal/holiday products that don’t bear mentioning. Such as Clarisonic’s themed skin cleaning wand.
The California Lottery “Year of the Ram”instant win scratch cards—and in a similar ploy to Asian gamblers, the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas issued Year of the Ram casino tokens). The Bellagio casino is getting into a goat mood as well.
A survey of some of the bigger branded endeavors:
Year of the Sheep-themed products begins with the master of localization, Starbucks. As with years past—and really, almost any holiday, Chinese or not—Starbucks is offering a line of sheep gear from a species hybrid abomination-against-God Year of the Sheep “Bearista” bear that’s also half goat (above) to Year of the Sheep gift cards.
Proving that its “master of localization” reputation is more than just talk, Starbucks has released a completely different line of Year of the Sheep products for the nearby Korean market. Malaysia Starbucks also offer its take on year of the sheep merchandise. (Can’t decide? An eBay seller is offering 2008-2015 Starbucks CNY mugs for a cool $2,800.)
It’s the year of the sheep! Grab these a-maa-zing merchandises in stores 🙂 pic.twitter.com/vFrqFTVK29
— Starbucks Malaysia (@StarbucksMY) January 8, 2015
Sneaker brands are also tripping over themselves to appeal to Asian consumers this CNY.
Reebok seems to be the one that went the furthest, offering two distinct sheep styles. One a red Reebok Ventilator (above) as well as Pump Fury (below) with a cartoon lamb lining.
adidas store windows are featuring a lot of 羊 (yáng; sheep) branding (above).
— adidas Originals (@adidasoriginals) January 8, 2015
Nike’s Jordan Brand is calling the above its “Year of the Goat” sneakers, but it’s unclear what design element makes them goatlike other than the use of the “element of water.“
Puma is offering a Year of the Sheep four-pack featuring retro sneakers in Strong Blue, Bright Marigold, Ribbon Red and Fern Green.
Vans is also offering a fuzzy Year of the Sheep collection.
Meanwhile, for hipsters who want to look like they were into the Year of the Sheep kicks before the Year of the Sheep, there is always Nike Air Force One Year of the Goat shoes from 12 years ago.
On the fashion front, Diane Von Furstenburg’s Lucky Sheep Envelope Clutch can be used to paint the town red.
Levi’s, meanwhile, is promoting CNY gear in Asian markets including Malaysia and Thailand:
— levisthailand (@levisthailand) January 16, 2015
— Levi’s Malaysia (@LevisMY) January 27, 2015
— Levi’s Malaysia (@LevisMY) January 23, 2015
Less upscale, Stussy‘s Year of the Sheep Capsule collection is a little more satanic goat.
Then there are the luxury timepieces. It’s no wonder to see this category represented so well.
As demand for fancy wrist watches has stumbled in the West, China’s demand for high-end timepieces exploded. Way back in 2008, China overtook America as the top market for expensive Swiss time-keepers.
Piaget‘s The Year of the Goat is part of the brand’s “Art & Excellence” collection.
Chopard‘s Year of the Goat watch incorporates the ancestral Japanese lacquerwork of urushi.
Panerai Luminor‘s 1950 Sealand Year of the Goat timepiece is limited to 100 pieces.
Jaquet Droz‘s two Ateliers D’Art goat models are limited to 28 pieces each.
Even more exclusive, Vacheron Constantin‘s Métiers d’Art Chinese Zodiac Year Of The Goat dual watches are limited to only a dozen of each and will set you baaaaaaack $123,000 each.
Looking for something a little more in the under-$100 range? Swatch‘s “The Goat’s Keeper” watch is for you.
But luxury wrist watches aren’t the only Year of the Goat Accessories.
Its fourth zodiac animal release, Cross is selling a 23-karat gold-plated Year of the Goat pen with an epic, Hollywood-style trailer.
This Victorinox Swiss Army Year of the Goat knife is not technically on offer just yet. Instead it is one of the possible knives-to-be from the brand’s crowd-sourced design contest.
But by far the coolest stamp comes from Japan (above) which issued a stamp featuring a sheep wearing a scarf that same sheep had been knitting on a Japanese stamp issued 12 years, one zodiac cycle, ago in 2003.
—Stay tuned for more CNY branding in part two: Booze, chocolates and more