Tech platforms celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day with discount HPV vaccinations, fatter digital red packets

Tech platforms celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day with discount HPV vaccinations, fatter digital red packets

  • May 20 is a day of love spawned by the internet – the numerals 520 first gained popularity as online slang for “I love you” in China
  • While traditional gestures of affection such as flowers are still popular, more quirky offerings are also being promoted as part of the occasion this year

In China, February 14 is not the only day of love celebrated. On the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, the Qixi Festival marks the meeting of the cowherd and weaver girl in Chinese mythology, and more recently there is May 20, a day for lovers spawned by the internet.

The numerals 520 first gained popularity as online slang for “I love you”, because the phrase (wu er ling) is phonetically similar to the declaration of love (wo ai ni) in Mandarin.

As couples began observing the corresponding date with gifts and declarations, e-commerce platforms were quick to catch on by decking their homepages out with all-pink themes and promotions for flowers and romantic dinners.

This year, as China gradually emerges from coronavirus lockdowns that separated many couples on the actual Valentine’s Day and throttled the economy, tech platforms are going all out to capture users on May 20.

Among the more unusual offerings, social e-commerce company Pinduoduo is offering discounted vaccine packages to protect users against the human papillomavirus (HPV) – a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer – in 30 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

“We can’t think of a better show of love than to want your loved ones to be in the best of health,” a Pinduoduo spokeswoman said. “On this day, as we celebrate love, we also want to raise awareness of cervical cancer by providing information from qualified medical experts and by making the HPV vaccine more affordable and accessible to all.”

While perhaps more practical than romantic, ubiquitous app WeChat is facilitating the gift of money – the super app operated by China’s tech giant Tencent Holdings has raised the upper limit of each red envelope to 520 yuan (US$73) just for the day, more than twice the usual limit of 200 yuan for individuals.

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On Wednesday, Yu’e Bao, a money-market fund offered on payments app Alipay, also launched a new feature that allows couples, friends and relatives to set a common investment goal and save money together. Once the goal is reached, they can make a wish together and name a star virtually on the platform.

Alipay is operated by Ant Financial, an affiliate of the Post’s parent company Alibaba Group Holding.Of course, platforms are also catering to more traditional tastes. On Meituan Dianping, the country’s largest on-demand delivery service provider, users can purchase fresh flowers and have them delivered via express delivery service, or get discounts on romantic meals and pre-wedding photography packages as part of a special shopping event for the day.

Luxury brands are also getting in on the action. On Tmall, an online marketplace owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, 150 luxury brands have launched more than 5,000 new products for the occasion.

Other high-end brands are offering exclusive products for the day on JD.com, the second-largest e-commerce platform in the country. For instance, JD.com and Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott have worked together to create a gift box containing a necklace, brooch and scarves as part of a 520 promotion event called “Confess Your Love”.

Additional reporting by Celia Chen

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