videopoker|China New Growth: Legacy brands revitalized as China-chic products unleash new demand

super2024-06-29 21:10:5014News

by Xinhua writers Shi Haovideopoker, Xie Xiyao and Deng Xianlai

BEIJING/WASHINGTON, June 29 (Xinhua) -- While ice cream in various flavors is available at grocery stores in Beijing, a host of young people still feel compelled to wait in a long line in the blazing sun for something special.

Priced at 9 yuan (about 1.3 U.S. dollars) per cone, the tea flavored ice cream is a superstar product of Wuyutai Tea, a company founded in 1887. During the Dragon Boat Festival holiday earlier this month, a staggering number of approximately 4,000 cones are sold each day at a single outlet in downtown Beijing.

For numerous coffee lovers, the "sauce-flavored latte" made by domestic coffee brand Luckin is an absolute must-try. This novelty is one of Luckin's best-selling products, made all the more enchanting by a key ingredient: alcohol from China's premium liquor maker Kweichow Moutai.

Wuyutai Tea and Kweichow Moutai are among China's 1,455 "time-honored brands," which are well-known throughout the country and officially recognized by the Ministry of Commerce.

With an average age of nearly 140 years, these legacy brands either serve as a reminder of people's childhood flavors or relate to festival traditions and nostalgic memories.

Faced with cut-throat competition from both domestic and foreign companies absent in the past, many of the long-established businesses are proactively adapting to the changing landscape and flourishing by tapping into the current consumer trend of China-chic products, which are designed with traditional cultural elements.

GROWING POPULARITY

"Many of the long-established brands, previously known only by name, have become more relevant as part of daily life," said post-90s consumer Huang Qingmiao, who learned more about the legacy brands from popular video-sharing platform Douyin over the past year.

Official data shows that in 2023, the number of Douyin users buying vintage brands rose 38 percent year on year, while the number of old-name businesses generating revenues on Douyin rocketed by 89 percent.

"Using the same things as our ancestors did over 100 years ago gives me a strong feeling of resonance," Huang said.

On e-commerce platform Meituan, these long-established businesses enjoyed a 25.6-percent increase in orders during a one-year span ending on May 26 this year.

More than 90 percent of surveyed consumers say they visited vintage catering establishments in 2023, according to data analysis provider iiMedia Research.

Many enterprises have stricken gold in the China-chic boom. Jewelry company Lao Feng Xiang, for instance, saw its profits jump 31.41 percent to nearly 4 billion yuan last year. Established in 1848, the jewelry maker now operates over 4,000 stores worldwide, including outlets in New York City, Sydney and Vancouver.

As traditional culture enjoys a revival in the consumer market, the Chinese government is looking to tap into trending China-chic products under vintage brands.

The 2024 government work report pledges efforts to boost the consumption of domestic brands with Chinese design elements, which is anticipated to offer a fresh catalyst for the development of legacy brands.

WAYS TO STAY YOUNG

During a visit to China in April, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen dined at Cantonese restaurant Taotaoju, and the delicacies she ate there sparked immediate interest among the public.

However, few people know that Taotaoju, which is also an officially certified time-honored brand dating back to 1880, once suffered setbacks.

Like traditional restaurants serving Beijing roast duck -- such as Bianyifang and Quanjude -- Taotaoju and other vintage catering firms feel the pressure from a raft of newcomers in the business that offer a whole range of dishes from high-end choices to budget-friendly options.

What's more, engaging the younger generation continues to be a prominent challenge, as the elderly remain the primary consumer group for these products, a research has found.

To hone its competitiveness, Taotaoju incorporated private capital and successfully implemented the mixed-ownership reform. It regularly introduces new culinary creations every three to four months and periodically revamps its restaurant decor. Today, approximately 70 percent of its clientele are comprised of individuals under the age of 35.

In addition, the restaurant chain has expanded its presence online. Its sales on e-commerce platforms posted an average annual growth of over 40 percent in the past seven years.

videopoker|China New Growth: Legacy brands revitalized as China-chic products unleash new demand

Besides creations like the sought-after ice cream that mainly targets young people, Wuyutai Tea has also leveraged the power of technology to overhaul production, with its annual sales surging from hundreds of kilograms to over 2,000 tonnes.

"Traditional brands used to rely on experience, but in the future, we must depend on technology to ensure both quality and quantity," said its chairman Zhao Shuxin.

EXPANDING GLOBAL REACH

In the U.S. State of Virginia near Washington DC, the proprietor of a Chinese food restaurant surnamed Liu, has noticed an increasing number of American diners ordering a type of Chinese herbal tea made by Wanglaoji, a Chinese legacy brand.

"Some of my customers had their first taste of the beverage. They said it was refreshingly sweet, tasty and an ideal choice to beat the summer heat," he told Xinhua.

Last year, Wanglaoji unveiled its brand name "WALOVI" for international market amid efforts to expand its global footprint. The company also aims to build 56 museums globally to promote the culture of Chinese herbal tea.

Sales of the beverage have been growing significantly in North America, particularly in major retail chains like Costco and HMart, as well as on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Yamibuy and Weee!.

Meanwhile, zongzi (sticky rice dumplings), a traditional Chinese delicacy typically consumed during the Dragon Boat Festival, has also gained popularity among foreigners.

Wufangzhai, a well-established zongzi brand that dates back to 1921, sold the snacks in more than 30 flavors to overseas markets this year. Zongzi exports from the city of Jiaxing in east China's Zhejiang Province, where Wufangzhai is located, increased 12.36 percent from January to May, according to customs data.

Phoenix, a long-standing bicycle manufacturer in China, secured a bigger footing in the global market with its popular battery-powered e-bikes. In the first four months of this year, the sales of Phoenix e-bikes in Germany and Canada grew more than 15 percent.

Chen Lifen, a researcher at the Development Research Center of China's State Council, believes it is a good thing that an increasing number of time-honored brands have expanded their global reach, as their products can showcase the traditional culture and meet the demand of foreign consumers through Chinese technology. Enditem

(Qu Ting, Pan Jie, Wei Hongyi, Zhou Rui, Yu Wan, and Ding Le contribute to the story)

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