Traditional Meets Digital: What Are the Red Packets?

Feb 28, 2022

First originated in China, then adopted across parts of East and Southeast Asia, “Ang Pow” or red packet is a monetary gift given in an envelope, for special occasions such as Lunar New Year, weddings and graduation, to friends or to younger generations who are normally still in school or unmarried. Per Chinese beliefs, the amount of money in the envelope usually ends with an even digit, while odd-numbered money gifts are given at funerals.



Depending on the geographical area, the envelope changes:

  • In China, Singapore, and Vietnam, the envelops gifted are red, colour that symbolises good luck and happiness
  • In Malaysia, the packets are green, the traditional color of Islam
  • Indian Malaysians use purple packets
  • In South Korea, the red packets are called the “‘packet of luck’ and are a cotton pouch given to children
  • In Japan, decorated envelopes are used with the name of the receiver usually written on the front side



With the increasing spread of digital technology, the red packet has become virtual: platforms like WeChat (read more here about the Chinese internet world) have implemented a new mobile payment resembling red packets that users can use to send money to friends and colleagues for Chinese New Year. More than 5 billion red envelopes were sent just via WeChat in 2022.



In 2019, WeChat officially launched its “custom red envelope cover” function for corporate accounts, enabling companies to offer their customers unique red packet covers - designed and personalised by the company itself -  to send to friends and families. Gucci was one of the first companies to successfully take advantage of this new feature in order to increase its brand awareness in China. Those customised packets used to cost 10 yuan ($1.54) each, but since 2021, the cost has lowered to 1 yuan ($0.15) and the feature has now become available to the public.

With the development of this new feature, brands now look for the best designs to implement in order to stand out and take advantage of the CNY to increase their brand awareness: this year, tendentially, jewelry brands used more luxurious tonality and refined designs, whilst fashion brands experimented with illustrations of the tiger. Some even collaborated with illustration or cartoon IPs.

Customised red packets are not the only strategy brands in China have implemented to ‘celebrate’ Chinese New Year: brands are always looking for a way to promote themselves among the Chinese consumers and to do so, many have decided to get inspired by local culture and traditions.


For the annual occasion, Gucci launched a new collection completely dedicated to CNY, the ‘Gucci Tiger’ collection: a vast range of accessories, clothes, shoes, bags, and wallets have been reinvented with different or more sophisticated graphics depicting tigers or China-inspired graphics. 



To celebrate the upcoming Chinese Year of the Tiger, Louis Vuitton opted for something more eye-catching and decorated the Chengdu Maison with a series of tiger tail installations, which went viral on Chinese social media.



Bottega Veneta decided to take over part of the Great Wall of China with an enormous green and tangerine (Bottega Veneta colours) digital-screen public art installation where it delivered a message of ‘Happy New Year’. This campaign drove huge awareness on Chinese social networks, showing how the Italian brand incorporates cultural relevance to brand consistency but also because Bottega Veneta has pledged a donation to support the maintenance and renovation of the Great Wall.



Of course, luxury giants have tremendous budgets to develop trendy red packets, but this does not mean that smaller brands cannot develop eye-catchy Ang Pows.

Brands are advised to be creative and play with designs, texture, printings, and decor elements. It is advisable not to use white colour, and get inspiration from floral designs, fruit, and Chinese zodiac. Brands usually give away one master Ang Pow that contains 8 envelopes to their clients, media and business partners. 


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