Discounted HPV vaccinations on offer for China's internet Valentine's Day
The Covid-19 pandemic has left ecommerce companies like Pinduoduo, Tencent and Alibaba in a fierce competition for user attention
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, ecommerce 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 from social ecommerce company Pinduoduo are discounted packages for human papillomaviruses (HPV) vaccinations – a common sexually transmitted infection – to users in 30 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
While perhaps more practical than romantic, ubiquitous app WeChat is facilitating the gift of money for the 520 festival – 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.
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 ecommerce giant Alibaba, 150 luxury brands have launched more than 5,000 new products for the occasion. High-end brands are offering exclusive products for the day on JD.com, the second-largest ecommerce platform in the country. For instance, JD.com and Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott have created a gift box containing a necklace, brooch and scarves as part of a 520 promotion event called “Confess Your Love.”
(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post.)