Alibaba’s finance arm, Ant Financial, tested their own red envelope marketing campaign on Monday, mimicking the red envelope campaign test by Tencent last week. On Chinese New Year’s Eve, the tech giant will offers its users up to 800 million RMB (about $122 million USD) in discounts and money through their online payment system, Alipay.
The “red envelope” is a feature shared across multiple Chinese online payment platforms, including WeChat and Alipay, that allows users to send and receive money. It’s also a way for online payment systems to acquire and engage users. For example, in 2015, Weibo reported a 46% increase in active participants after Chinese New Year, reaching 102 million people on New Year’s Eve.
In 2015, Alipay and WeChat battled fiercely through red envelope campaigns. It looks like this year will be no different. Alibaba will work with the Spring Festival Gala to launch its red envelope campaign in a partnership that is almost identical to the one Tencent had last year. In 2015, WeChat users could “shake” during certain moments of the Spring Festival Gala, an annual show on Chinese New Year’s Eve by state-run broadcaster CCTV (China Central Television). Lucky WeChat winners could win up to 500 million RMB (about $76 million USD) in money and e-coupons.
Instead of “shaking,” Alipay users will use the app’s new “Show Show” feature, which was launched on January 12th. From January 23rd until the gala, Alipay users will be able to find red envelopes, merchants, discounts, and Alipay “friends” nearby by clicking on the target-like icon for “Show Show.”
With the “Show Show” feature and the Spring Festival Gala partnership, Alibaba is looking more and more like a copycat of Tencent. Not that that will matter to users, who are probably more than happy to have more chances to win money from Chinese tech giants.
Update: This post was updated to reflect the red envelope campaign was managed by Alibaba’s financial affiliate, Ant Financial.