Time-honored brands face battle in globalization, modernization

By Zhao Ruixue in Jinan| (China Daily)| Updated : 2018-05-14

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Many time-honored Chinese brands, having developed their reputations over centuries, are now facing the challenges of adapting to the modern marketplace, said industry insiders at a recent forum in Jinan, Shandong province.

Time-honored brands are usually born by traditional products, techniques or services that are unique, enjoy a great reputation and carry obvious cultural features.

There were more than 10,000 time-honored brands when the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, covering areas ranging from catering, retail, food and pharmaceuticals to public services. The number was 1,600 in 1991, and now, there are only 1,128 time-honored brands, accredited by the Ministry of Commerce.

Less than a third of them could be regarded as being prosperous today, according to a survey conducted by newspaper Reference News last year.

Time-honored brands represent the soft power of China and will grow increasingly recognized on the global stage if their owners are willing to innovate and adopt new strategies in the company's management, technologies and marketing systems, said Zhou Keren, former vice-minister of the Ministry of Commerce, at the forum. The event was attended by more than 100 representatives from time-honored brand holders across China, including Dong'e Ejiao, Daoxiangcun, Tongrentang, Huqingyutang and Quanjude.

Dong'e Ejiao has been thriving over the past decade thanks to the company's efforts in product innovation and spreading the cultural significance of ejiao, a traditional Chinese medicinal tonic based on donkey skin that has been listed as a national intangible cultural heritage item.

Statistics from the company show its net profit in 2016 was 15 times higher than that in 2006. Dong'e Ejiao's brand value reached 34.05 billion yuan ($4.94 billion) in 2016.

"Owners of time-honored brands need to introduce professional resources in the fields of capital, marketing, product design and public relations into their development strategy to keep pace with the times," said Qin Yufeng, chairman of the Shandong Association of Companies with Time-Honored Brands and chairman of Dong'e Ejiao Co Ltd.

Qin also called for government support for time-honored brands, such as through tax policies.

Ding Huimin, secretary-general of the Zhejiang Association of Companies with Time-Honored Brands, said time-honored brands are a better choice for China as the country builds its global image, especially under the banner of the Belt and Road Initiative.

"The most important thing for time-honored brands going global is protecting their intellectual property," said Ding.

Authorities in Shandong, home to 66 time-honored brands accredited by the Ministry of Commerce, will strengthen efforts this year to protect time-honored brands' intellectual properties, while spreading the cultural significance they carry, said Zang Renfeng, head of the trade development office of the Shandong Department of Commerce.



Dong'e Ejiao technicians demonstrate how to polish ejiao, a traditional process that cannot yet be done by machine. [Jiang Kai / For China Daily]

(China Daily 04/28/2017 page17)