IDENTITY Communications previews some limited edition Year of the Rat goodies that could be yours in 2020.

The global luxury-goods market will grow to US$386 billion by 2025 and Chinese consumers will account for 44 percent of that market. It’s no wonder Western brands are looking to leverage every cultural occassion to turn them into profit.

There is no bigger cultural occassion for Chinese than their new year. A week long public holiday, sparking the world’s biggest human migration with over 3 billion trips taken in China. Last year, some 413 million people travelled by rail and 73 million passengers travelled by air.

Source: The Guardian

The year of the rat starts on 25 January 2020.

The rat is a cunning creature. To determine the order of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, the Jade Emperor asked them to race. The Rat became the first animal in the zodiac by tricking the Ox into giving it a ride. Just as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped off and crossed first.

Rats are seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. Because of their reproduction rate, it’s a good year to pray for children.

But back to commerce. To celebrate the coming Year of the Rat, Western brands are releasing themed merchandise – some aren’t cheap.

This cool Chopard watch will set you back $US24,600. “Chopard is once again honouring Asian traditions by calling on the ancestral Japanese art of Urushi to create the dial of the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat timepiece. This work of art highlights the theme of the next zodiac sign in the traditional Chinese calendar: the Rat, renowned for its intelligence and perspicacity. Each of the watches in this refined and powerfully symbolic 88-piece limited edition crafted in 18k rose gold is powered by an ultra-thin movement produced in the Chopard Manufacture workshops: the L.U.C 96.17-L caliber”, according to their website.

Gucci collaborated with Disney for their Year of the Rat collection, headlined by Mickey Mouse. The Disney x Gucci GG Marmont medium shoulder bag could be yours for $US2,980.

These uber cool Gucci x Disney kickers can be had for a relatively more modest AU$1,370. Well, what are you waiting for?

Gucci Ace sneaker


Holy red and gold lanterns! For the man who has everything, how about a box of Davidoff Year of the Rat cigars? 

Davidoff Year of the Rat cigar

More affordable is a Swatch Rat watch that comes in a cheesy gold and red box (US$100).

Davidoff Year of the Rat cigar

While the Chinese market has been lucrative for many brands, recent times have seen some notable missteps, ranging from alleged cultural insensitivity (Dolce & Gabbana) to offending China’s sovereignty, particularly recognition of Taiwan (Versace, Swarovski, Coach, Calvin Klein, Audi, Marriott Hotels, Qantas, Air France, British Airways) and of course, being seen as supporting the current the Hong Kong protests (Tiffany & Co, NBA).

Lots of opportunties in China and some cultural pitfalls.

Thang Ngo is managing director or IDENTITY Communications,  Australia’s largest multicultural marketing agency.