To capitalise on Asia's biggest shopping season, global luxury brands are rolling out a menagerie of merchandise. For the Year Of The Snake, fancy a Vacheron Constantin watch: $US150,000 ($144,800) with an engraved snake on its face? Or a serpentine, limited-edition Mercedes-Benz Smart Car (only 666 made)?
Lunar New Year is now part of many brands' annual retail cycles. It's debatable how much is actually Chinese and how much is Westerners thinking 'Let's put a red dragon on it, and the Chinese will love it.' But there's certainly a market...China's growing wealthy class is now more likely to splurge on more luxurious gifts. And their shopping spills across borders: Chinese shoppers last year became the largest group of luxury consumers in the world, overtaking Americans and Japanese for the first time in 2012.
To cash in...er...to cater for Chinese clientele,Harrod's in London is selling its own snake-embossed gold bullion bars, weighing from 5 to 100 grams that sell from $US320 to $US5,700.
Last year (the Year of the Dragon), several European and US brands had limited-edition, dragon-themed products to attract Chinese bucks. One of the more extravagant was Rolls-Royce's "Year of the Dragon" Phantom car, priced at more than $US1.3 million, featuring embroidered gold dragons on the headrests, dragons painted on the wheelbases, and LED "Year of the Dragon 2012" lights on the tread plates. It sold out within eight weeks.
The Year of the Snake is an easy year for jewelry brand Bulgari. The company has carried its Serpenti line since the 1960s. It relaunched it last autumn, adding new items like a one-of-a-kind diamond-and-jade Serpenti necklace priced at more than $US400,000.
Just remember though: merchandisers may be guilty of cashing in on The Year of the Snake...but Hissing Sid was INNOCENT!
PS: 08 Feb.2013 - "Bomb your boss" with specially-branded Chinese New Year fireworks!