'China-chic' boom adds vigor to time-honored brands in Beijing

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Photo taken on June 21, 2019 shows the Arctic Ocean soft drink production line in Daxing District of Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Ren Chao)

At Wuyutai Tea shop on Qianmen Street, a landmark commercial street in Beijing, customers are lining up to buy speciality tea ice cream.

Well-known for its jasmine tea, Wuyutai Tea is a time-honored tea brand in Beijing with a 135-year history. It owns over 500 outlets around the country.

"We have long noted the market changes, and developed tea ice cream in 2008. It is popular with customers," said Zhao Shuxin, chairman of the board of Wuyutai Tea. He added that the company hopes to expand its brand influence among young customers.

The strong consumption power of the younger generations has promoted the transformation of Wuyutai Tea in recent years.

In 2021, Wuyutai Tea embraced "Guochao," a consumer trend among young people meaning "China-chic." It features products designed with traditional cultural elements, and Wuyutai Tea has launched an array of "tea plus" products, including tea drinks, dim sum and mooncakes.

Wuyutai Tea is among 223 time-honored brands in Beijing that are recognized by Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau. These brands are jumping on the Guochao bandwagon, developing products to catch the attention of young consumers.

During weekends, the Jiaodaokou branch of Beiping Ice Factory, located in Beijing's Dongcheng District, is always crowded with people.

It is a concept store operated by the brand Beibingyang, a much-loved soda drink brand rooted in Beijing since 1936. Beibingyang, also known as Arctic Ocean, is firm in the memories of generations of Beijingers.

The over 1,000-square-meter store is filled with Guochao products, including handmade popsicles, sparkling drinks, yogurt, and the brands' cultural and creative products.

"The store has a strong appeal to customers of all ages, with a daily turnover on weekends reaching over 70,000 yuan (about 10,332 U.S. dollars)," said Li Haochen, head of the store.

"What we want to do is to combine the time-honored brand with Guochao, so as to magnetize young consumers and enhance the recognition of the brand," said Du Weiwei, vice general manager of Beijing Yiqing Food Group Co., Ltd., the parent company of Beibingyang.

These time-honored brands have thrived, banking also on the support of the municipal government. The commerce department in Beijing has been providing financial support for the heritage protection and development of such brands for over 10 consecutive years.

Beijing will guide the upgrading of products and services from these brands, and launch relevant activities to promote the integrated development of traditional culture and trends, said Ding Yong, director of the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau.  

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