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7 Key Tactics to Master WeChat Red Envelope Marketing

Updated: Mar 14

In the recently celebrated Chinese New Year, almost every brand jumped on WeChat to roll out a now-familiar online campaign: Red Envelope Covers. This tradition has been gaining momentum among international brands since its introduction in 2019. This year's red envelope cover campaign saw an even larger turnout of brands than before, with the designs offered becoming increasingly varied and creative, adding a vibrant touch to the festivities.

Now, let's dive into using WeChat Red Envelope Cover campaigns to boost our brand's presence and impact in the Chinese market.

WeChat Red Envelope Cover Marketing Campaign.

1. The Evolution of the WeChat Red Envelope Cover: Bridging Tradition and Technology


In China, the tradition of red envelopes (also known as red packets or "hongbao" in Chinese) dates back to the Song and Yuan dynasties and remains a cherished custom deeply ingrained in social practices. Typically exchanged during Chinese New Year, these envelopes, filled with money, hold profound cultural significance beyond mere gifts. They symbolize blessings and generosity, reflecting elders' care and hopes for the younger generation's well-being. Additionally, they convey wishes for prosperity and protection against misfortune, fostering a sense of celebration and familial unity. Red envelopes are customarily given by elders to unmarried younger relatives, symbolizing affection and blessings, with cash tucked neatly inside traditional square red paper envelopes.

This timeless tradition has smoothly transitioned into the digital age, shifting from paper to electronic without losing its core essence. The evolution of the red envelope, from its historical origins to its modern form on WeChat, highlights its lasting significance and effortless blend into modern life.

2. Maximizing Brand Visibility with Custom WeChat Red Envelope Covers


Since Tencent launched its custom WeChat red envelope cover feature for brands and businesses, collecting these covers has become a staple Chinese New Year's campaign for most brands over the past five years, due to its positive impact on brand visibility.


WeChat data from February 10, 2024, shows that on Chinese New Year's Eve, users snagged over 5.08 billion red envelopes and sent out 190 million "New Year greeting red envelopes." This underscores the unparalleled reach of red envelope covers during the Chinese New Year, explaining the growing number of brands joining this initiative.

To initiate a WeChat red envelope cover campaign, brands are required to:

1. Enable the red envelope cover feature via a WeChat Official Account with enterprise verification.

2. Ensure the verified Official Account is registered to an enterprise within Mainland China (Note: Accounts registered to foreign-owned enterprises are not currently eligible).


Upon activation, brands can proceed with customizing their red envelope covers, including design, distribution quantity, and collection mechanisms.

The Red Envelope cover design consists of the following two parts:

1. Cover style

2. Cover story

The cover style encompasses the following elements:

1. Cover Image (mandatory)

2. Cover Widget (optional)

3. Bubble Widget (optional)

Cover images and widgets can be uploaded as either static or animated GIF designs.

Animated GIF designs of WeChat red envelope cover
Animated GIF designs

After finalizing the cover design, the next step involves developing the cover story, showcased on the red envelope's detail page. This narrative delves into the brand's essence, the team's spirit, or the inspiration behind the cover design, enhancing the brand's cultural communication. The story is prominently featured and auto-plays at the top of the detail page, with the option to view it in full by clicking the "Pull Down" button or simply scrolling.

Cover story:

The cover story can be showcased as either images or videos, accompanied by an optional descriptive narrative. Below the story, the cover's abbreviation and the brand logo are featured.

After designing all materials to meet production standards, they can be submitted for review. Following approval, brands can top up the number of red envelope covers they wish to distribute, with each cover priced at 1 RMB. Brands should top up according to their intended distribution volume. Once topped up, the distribution strategy for the red envelopes can be set up.

Top up platform of WeChat red envelope cover.

The distribution of red envelope covers can occur in four scenarios:


1. WeChat Official Account articles

2. WeChat Channel

3. WeChat Sticker Albums

4. WeChat Advertising

Scenarios 1, 2, and 4 are commonly chosen by brands.


Red Envelope cover distributed via WeChat Official Account articles:

Red Envelope cover distributed via WeChat Channel.
Red Envelope cover distributed via WeChat Channel

Red envelope cover distributed via WeChat Advertising.
Red Envelope cover distributed via WeChat Advertising

Although distributing red envelope covers is a common practice, each brand adopts unique collection methods to enhance user interaction. Below, we've summarized some of the more prevalent approaches used by major brands:

1. Distribute directly within the WeChat Official Account

To increase user engagement and save them time, many brands, including BMW, opt to insert red envelope cover collection links directly into their WeChat articles. Followers can simply click to instantly claim the red envelope covers, eliminating the need for additional steps.

2. Receive upon following the WeChat Official Account and responding with a keyword

Some brands take this opportunity to increase their followers and visibility by requiring users who claim red envelopes to follow their WeChat official accounts. Users are then prompted to reply with specific keywords to receive the red envelope cover, thereby enhancing user engagement.

Receive upon following the WeChat Official Account and responding with a keyword.

3. Redirect to the brand's Mini Program for collection

To ensure red envelope recipients are loyal customers, some brands require membership to access the WeChat red envelope cover. This year, Leica has embedded this process within its mini-program, mandating membership registration for cover access.

4. Through WeChat mini-games

Some brands are willing to go the extra mile for this annual campaign. For instance, Hermès has strategically invested in enhancing the red envelope experience by introducing an immersive AR game. This dynamic approach not only adds excitement but also fosters deeper user interaction. By gamifying the process of acquiring red envelope covers. Hermès distinguishes itself from competitors and reinforces its brand as a trailblazer in experiential marketing.

WeChat red envelope cover distribution through WeChat mini-games.

3. Designing WeChat Red Envelope Covers: 7 Tips and Trends

As the effectiveness of red envelope covers becomes increasingly apparent, we anticipate more brands participating in this initiative for the next Chinese New Year. Here are 7 key tips for WeChat red envelope covers:

1. Blend the year's zodiac sign with your brand's identity: Integrating the Chinese zodiac, a key New Year symbol, into your design is crucial. For example, in the Year of the Dragon, brands are encouraged to weave dragon motifs that align with their branding into their cover designs, making this strategic incorporation of zodiac elements into brand imagery a primary design recommendation.

2. Embrace dynamic designs: While static designs prevail, opting for animated red envelope covers can significantly enhance your brand's visibility and increase user excitement about obtaining your covers.

Animated design of WeChat red envelope cover.
Animated Design
Static design of WeChat red envelope cover.
Static Design
Animated design of WeChat red envelope cover.
Animated Design
Static design of WeChat red envelope cover.
Static Design

3. Leverage the cover story: Although the cover story is optional, we recommend adding it to make your red envelope cover stand out. A compelling story can bring the cover to life and entice users to collect it.

4. Strategically schedule the release of red envelope covers: In line with Chinese tradition, most people begin sending red envelopes to relatives and friends starting from Chinese New Year's Eve, making it crucial to release your brand's covers to users in advance. With many brands participating in this activity, users might collect multiple covers for use. To ensure frequent use of your brand's cover, release it at least a week in advance, though distributing in batches a month ahead can yield even better results.

5. Determining Distribution Volume: For brands new to red envelope cover giveaways, deciding on the amount to distribute can seem daunting. A practical approach is to assess your WeChat official account's follower count. Initially, we suggest issuing red envelopes equivalent to 30% of your followers.

6. Develop a comprehensive plan for distributing red envelope cover: Additionally, we need to prepare in advance for multiple rounds of distribution because it's highly likely that after the first round of red envelope distribution, a significant number of users will not have grabbed one (as indicated by messages left on the WeChat official account backend or comment area). To better meet user demands and enhance our brand's visibility, it's essential to proactively establish the methods and schedule for multiple rounds of red envelope distribution.

Distributing period of WeChat red envelope cover.

7. Design multiple red envelope covers: With an increasing number of brands joining the trend, users now have more options for red envelope covers. As a brand, if we only offer one design, our visibility decreases compared to brands offering two, three, or more cover options.

A set of WeChat red envelope cover designs of different brands.
A set of WeChat red envelope cover designs

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