‘Ori­en­tal magic medicine’ caters to over­seas mar­kets

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG YING in Shang­hai wang_y­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Only 10 per­cent of the city’s time-hon­ored brands make a profit, and those with the po­ten­tial to suc­ceed over­seas are limited.

There is no recipe for suc­cess abroad but brands must be mind­ful of the mar­kets in which they op­er­ate, ac­cord­ing to Jiang Wei­hong, a re­searcher from the Shang­hai Academy of So­cial Sciences.

Shang­hai Zhonghua Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Co Ltd ex­ports its es­sen­tial balm to over 80 na­tions and re­gions. It is pro­moted as “Ori­en­tal magic medicine” and sold mostly un­der the Dragon and Tiger brand.

How­ever, in cer­tain mar­kets it uses a dif­fer­ent name due to cul­tural considerations, said Ding Jia­long, the com­pany’s gen­eral manager.

“In some for­eign cul­tures, dragons are not con­sid­ered lucky. In­stead they may be per­ceived as vi­o­lent or danger­ous, so we reg­is­tered the same prod­uct un­der the Tem­ple of Heaven brand for some places.”

White and brown ver­sions of the balm were de­vel­oped to ap­peal to dif­fer­ent tastes af­ter the com­pany con­ducted mar­ket re­search over­seas in the 1970s.

The oint­ment is most popular in Africa, with up to 60 per­cent of ex­ports head­ing in that di­rec­tion.

Lao Feng Xiang, a lo­cal jew­elry brand, hopes to gain broader recog­ni­tion on for­eign shores.

“That has al­ways been our goal,” said spokesper­son Wang En­sheng. “We ex­pect to raise our an­nual over­seas rev­enue to 10 bil­lion yuan ($1.6 bil­lion) in three to five years.”

The com­pany will open a store in Van­cou­ver soon to bol­ster its branches in Syd­ney and New York. Be­tween three and five new stores are ex­pected to open in Hong Kong in 2015. More in the UK and New Zealand are planned.

“Our tar­get cus­tomers are China-based for­eign­ers and over­seas Chi­nese. We or­der dif­fer­ent prod­ucts ac­cord­ingly in each of our stores, and we are see­ing our sales rev­enue rise,” said Wang.

War­rior shoes gen­er­ated over­seas sales rev­enue of $9.8 mil­lion in 2014 by sell­ing 1.5 mil­lion pairs, and in­come from the US mar­ket made up al­most half of this, or $4.5 mil­lion. This year, War­rior hopes to set an ex­port record of $12 mil­lion (1.8 mil­lion pairs).

But be­hind the num­bers lies the awk­ward re­al­ity that a huge chunk of its over­seas sales de­rive from hav­ing its shoes la­beled as Vans, Keds, Levi’s, Pony or Con­verse.

Break­ing the bot­tle­neck in terms of over­seas sales re­quires fig­ur­ing out how to pro­mote Chi­nese cul­ture, said Zhang Yum­ing, deputy gen­eral manager of the com­pany’s ex­port di­vi­sion.

Although War­rior is a fairly well-known brand of ath­letic shoes in China that dates back to 1927, it is new to West­ern cus­tomers.

“First we have to raise aware­ness of Chi­nese cul­ture. Then recog­ni­tion of Chi­nese brands will fol­low,” Zhang added.

Zhou Xiaolan,

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