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#119 Free Calendars

Posted May 31st, 2009 by Peter · 15 Comments

Hey there, SAPL Readers! This week’s post is based on Dustin’s observation about Asian people putting up advertisement calendars. He asks: “Have you ever noticed that whenever you go to some Asian person’s house, they have one of those calendars on the wall? *Like the ones from the bank with that part for the days that you could pull out that’s all perforated?* My dad’s family friend loves those. I also went to my other friend’s house the other day, and he had one on the wall too!”

1ew5k9Right when you walk into an Asian household, you can tell a lot about their buying habits and preferences. No, it’s not from the shoes they wear, paintings that adorn their walls, or the size of their television screens. It’s actually from one of the simplest forms of advertising: Free Promotional Calendars.

As long as shops have been around in Asia, shop owners have been giving out free calendars. Bank owners do it; Supermarkets embrace it; butchers, bakers, farmers and even tailors partake in this century old advertising scheme.

Allow me to explain: When an Asian goes into a supermarket, they expect a bonus when they leave. These bonuses are determined by how much money they have spent in that one outing. For example, if they’ve purchased 100 dollars worth of groceries, they should receive something to the extent of a 25-40 lb. bag of rice (and if you know bags of rice, they can get pretty pricey). I savor all those times I spent with my mom at the “giver’s” station (which was right before the supermarket exit. That is where we would receieve gifts ranging from calendars; to gas stoves; to even soy milk at our local ABC supermarket).


At a Traditional Tailoring Shop (which is the case with my family), clients would also expect a calendar around Lunar New Years (peak time for a traditional Vietnamese dress to be worn). I can also recall a number of disgruntled Asian women walking out of my mom’s store without calendars because they were out of stock. Why were they all pouting?

For the same reason metrosexual people purchase GQ and dads, Home Improvement magazines, Asian people can’t get enough of free business calendars. My mom’s shop, for example, relies heavily on this because the calendar would sport pictures of Ao Dai models and the various styles offered there. They would also provide customers with important aodaibluedragoninformation: the date and days of the week (hehe). Furthermore, they would also have our phone number in handy. Why pay for a 12-month magazine subscription when your calendar lasts 12 months and has new dresses every month? This brings us back to one of the core Asian principles…

Asians are Cheap. When will you find an Asian that would pass up something free? It doesn’t matter if it’s a calendar’s from a little-known bank or tailoring shop. The main point is that the item is free. In the end, life is so monotonous and boring. Free things give life a much-needed zest. In fact, I’m staring at a Vietnamese “Bank of the West” calendar as I type this post. (The odd thing is that my family has never even opened an account at Bank of the West). Walking down my hall, there is a Korean Drama Calendar and Christian Verses calendar; both compliments of our church and the local video rental store. Free Calendars are  just good business practice in Asia.

TIP: I hope you enjoyed this post about Asian Promotional Calendars. The next time you go to an Asian store, keep a lookout for free calendars. Also note that they are seasonal (we all know no one needs a 2009 calendar in December of 2009). Other places to look are bakeries and restaurants.

Thanks for the observation, Dustin! Until next week, keep those submissions coming.

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Tags: Asian Hotspot · Business · Culture · Customs · Finance · Habits · People · Products · Relationships · Tidbits

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Toby // Jun 3, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    When I was a kid, my parents used to hang up those free posters with the HK stars. As I got older, I refused to have those hanging in the house for guests to see.

    Chinese calanders are handy for the lunar dates though.

    And remember those rice/tissue paper daily calanders where you rip them off? My grandfather has one.

  • 2 Paul // Jun 4, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    What’s so Asian about liking free calendars? My parents were both in their 40′s before they even met an Asian. Yet whenever I go over to their house in December, my Dad offers me a gift from his collection of a dozen free advertising calendars. I guess that being cheap is the universal language.

  • 3 Kvietgrl // Jun 5, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I think to be more specific…it’s a certain type of free calendar we get from the asian supermarket. They usually have the rice paper that we tear off daily, hong kong movie stars type, doctor/dental office landscape type…and many more. =)

  • 4 johnson // Jun 15, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    I think most people like free Calendars, but asian like calanders with the dates of Lunar, Chinese, Korean, Japenese, etc holidays printed on them in their home language like chinese.

  • 5 Chuck Lee // Jun 26, 2009 at 1:36 am

    my parent’s home is filled with a bunch of these! lol they always rely on their doctor or something for these calenders.

  • 6 justsaying // Jul 14, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Asians like adoption. I’d be interested in reading a blog post about that phenomenon.

  • 7 Chinamerican // Aug 22, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Yep, we had a whole bunch of these – rice paper (daily) and movie star (monthly).

    Asian frugality is key when it comes to advertising. If the item is useful, the potential customer will not throw it away: for Chinese, it’s calendars; for Japanese, it’s pocket-sized tissues. The only thing that comes close to this for mainstream US is matchbooks.

  • 8 Mochi Blog | A Look Into “Stuff Asian People Like” // Sep 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    [...] me, the moment happened while reading the posts about ‘free calendars’ (the only type allowed in my home) and pointing with the middle finger (“Dad! [...]

  • 9 got-rice // Oct 11, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    hung in every Chinese person’s house. :)

  • 10 KR // Feb 12, 2010 at 12:27 am

    ahh calenders. my mum loves them she tries to get as many as she can then give some away. My dad however looks for the most expensive calenders and tries to get them for free. (Calenders can actually get pretty pricey, i once saw one that costs AUD$200)

    And now we are so close to Chinese NEw YEar, which means more calenders

  • 11 huu // Jul 13, 2010 at 9:44 pm

  • 12 anonymous // Jan 13, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    So true. From super market to pharmacy store. My family get a lot of free calendars from Hong Kong supermarket every year.

  • 13 wood pellets // Mar 1, 2011 at 1:04 am

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  • 14 ilovehorseyrides // Jun 9, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    My parents take free calendars and sometimes they will have extras left over!!!!

  • 15 Sandy // Sep 4, 2018 at 2:44 am

    Would anyone know where I can get one of those daily tear away calendar from a previous year?

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