Apr 25, 2012

The Year of the Dragon

At present, China’s business world is in chaos.

Any factories that are still open are in a mad dash to get shipments out before next week’s shut down. Sea shipments that aren’t reserved in the next few days won’t go out until February.

Air carriers are experiencing a massive bottleneck; shipments that normally take less than a week to deliver can be delayed for days sitting in a queue at a warehouse in China.

When business grinds to a halt next week for what will be a minimum two week vacation for all of China’s manufacturing and service companies, the world slows with it. This can be maddening for those of us in the West. National holidays in the U.S. are typically one day; our banks and shipping lines never close for more than a few days at a time.

I know of this frustration well. It’s no fun having to explain to a first time caller that “Uhhh, I can’t provide a quote for at least two weeks because the entire country of China is shut down.”

So what’s the Chinese New Year holiday about?

The “Spring Festival,” or “Lunar New Year,” as it is known in China, begins on the first day of the first month of the traditional Chinese calendar. The Chinese calendar is based on a lunisolar calendar, which aligns with moon phases and the time of the solar year.

The Chinese zodiac (similar to western astrology) has 12 signs which are animals that have different meanings attached to them. This 12 year cycle repeats continuously.

Each year is designated as one sign of the Chinese zodiac; here’s the lineup for the next 12 years:

  • 2012: Year of the Dragon
  • 2013: Year of the Snake
  • 2014: Year of the Horse
  • 2015: Year of the Goat
  • 2016: Year of the Monkey
  • 2017: Year of the Rooster
  • 2018: Year of the Dog
  • 2019: Year of the Pig
  • 2020: Year of the Rat
  • 2021: Year of the Ox
  • 2022: Year of the Tiger
  • 2023: Year of the Rabbit

The Chinese ascribe a blessing in line with the zodiac of the year they were born in. The year of the dragon, for example, is associated with wealth and power. Thus, many Chinese women will try to plan their pregnancies for this year.

2012 could be a big time baby boomer year in China.

In 1979, China set a one child per family policy in place to put the brakes on growth of their 1.3+ billion population. Last year Beijing decided to allow couples to have two children under certain circumstances. Add this to the fact that 5% more babies are typically born in Dragon years, and you have the making of a population explosion. (Now would be a great time to have a business that sells infant products in China!)

During the Spring Festival, houses are cleaned out to “sweep away bad luck” to make way for good fortune for the new year. Presents are exchanged, families have reunions, and houses are decorated with red colors (which are attributed to good luck). And, there is plenty of feasting on various fowl, sweets, and liquor.

Perhaps one way to think of the Chinese New Year is to picture what our Thanksgiving/Christmas/New years holiday might look like if it was all rolled into one big holiday without the religious meaning that is associated with the first two.

When you add up the minimum of two weeks they get off for the Chinese New year along with their May, October, and other holidays, they get about a month off each year, not including additional personal vacation time.

Quite the benefits package they have.

Sources: Wikipedia, Businessweek

Remember… You Have Enormous Resources at Your Disposal

As you make your marketing plans for this year, keep in mind that we can source almost any product made of metal, plastic, wood, stone, or textiles in China. This provides you with unlimited potential for expanding your product lines and sales. Sometimes a new addition to the product line can mean a big increase in sales and profit.

Ask your customers for ideas and look at what your competition is offering. Diversification is a great insurance policy against future dips in the economy.

Email us if you’d like us to look into a new product for you.

The Exchange Rate

Yuan to the dollar, as of today: 6.31 to 1
Rate when the Yuan was depegged from the dollar on June 19, 2010: 6.82 to 1
Change: .51 (7.4%)

About Us

Since 1991, Global Trade Specialists, Inc. has helped companies of all sizes get their products made in China from manufacturers of quality products. We are an American company who works with three trading groups in China with immediate access to thousands of manufacturing companies. We source most products made from metal, plastic, wood, stone, glass or textiles; from prototype to production. Many of our customers are first time importers; we walk you through the entire process.

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