Shanghai's time-honored brands adapting to modern times

Huang Yixuan
The Shanghai Morning Post on Monday hosted an event to discuss how the city's beloved time-honored brands can develop in the age of the Internet.
Huang Yixuan

The Shanghai Morning Post on Monday hosted an event to discuss "Shanghai Service" and the development of its time-honored brands, or "Laozihao."

"Laozihao's Shanghai Service: New Life, New Consumption, New Brand," was organized under the guidance of the Shanghai United Media Group, owner of Shanghai Daily, as a part of the group's series of events to support the city's old brands and to welcome China Brand Day 2019 from May 10 to 12 in Shanghai.

Executives of several popular old brands such as Phoenix Bicycles, household and personal products company Shanghai Jahwa United Co and Marie Painting Materials, as well as some new fast-growing brands such as supermarket and convenience chain Fresh Hema and property agency Home Link,  shared their experiences and thoughts on the innovation development of brands in the Internet era.

The high quality of service is an important factor that makes old brands maintain their popularity over the long term, sets a benchmark for the development of new enterprises and lays a solid foundation for the formation of a modern service industry.

Cheng Feng, deputy general manager of the Shanghai United Media Group, said that in the course of their development, China's time-honored brands already have a set of unique production and business models.

"Time-honored Brand" is an official title granted by the national Ministry of Commerce to well-known companies formed before 1956 that provide generations-old products and services with distinct Chinese cultural characteristics.

In addition to focusing on the product itself, there is a greater need for innovation in services if established brands want to continue developing, Cheng said.

Chen Jie, deputy director of the industry department of the Shanghai Development and Reform Commission said:

"Shanghai brands hold a reputation on their high quality. From consumer goods to urban infrastructure construction and from product quality to service quality, Shanghai is further developing the 'Shanghai brands' firmly and effectively."

With the rapid growth of the Internet, especially the mobile Internet, information exchange between users and enterprises is becoming closer.

In 2018, Chinese people in average spent nearly three hours a day using mobile phones.

Phoenix Bicycles started turning to the Internet in 2011, said Wang Chaoyang, president of Phoenix. Its main brand promotion channels include WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, and sales channels involve e-commerce platforms Tmall and 

Phoenix also launched a mobile app to interact with business partners and communicate with users to understand their needs and solve their problems quickly.

"In recent years, Phoenix has maintained an overall growth rate of 30 percent in e-commerce platforms, and e-commerce has become the fastest-growing sales channel for Phoenix," Wang said.

New brands are also learning from those with a long history. 

Wang Yongqun, chief operating officer of Home Link, believes that insisting on quality is the way to achieve long-term development. 

"Meanwhile, facing the era of consumption upgrading, new enterprises should also persist in innovation in service, technology, personnel and function," he said.

As an example, Home Link has started to use virtual reality technology to allow customers to take a virtual tour of homes they are interested in buying.

In addition, the company has also turned its physical stores into urban supply stations, providing residents with emergency rain gear, drinking water, printing and photocopying and other convenience services.

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