Traditional Chinese brands undergo online resurgence

Updated: Sep 19, 2023 By CUI JIA Print
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Traditional Chinese brands have recently made a strong comeback thanks to a livestreaming controversy over the quality of products and whether people were working hard enough to afford them.

Domestic brands were put under the spotlight after China's top online sales host Li Jiaqi questioned whether people had worked hard enough to get a pay rise, during a livestreaming session on Taobao Live, Alibaba's livestreaming platform, on Sept 9. A follower had earlier commented that a Chinese cosmetic brand's eyebrow pen and two refills priced at 79 yuan ($10.8) is too expensive.

While Li was criticized for his comments, Chinese brands that have faded in popularity due to a lack of marketing and online presence seized the opportunity to show they could deliver value-for-money quality goods.

Bee & Flower, a shampoo brand founded in 1985 and once a household name in China, introduced a 79-yuan set of two large bottles of shampoo and a large bottle of hair conditioner, which quickly attracted people's attention.

Feigua, a livestreaming sales data provider, said the number of followers of Bee & Flower's account on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, started to soar on Sept 11. By Friday, it had attracted a record 559,000 followers. Sales generated during a livestreaming session on Tuesday are expected to exceed 2.5 million yuan ($343,000), the company said.

Other Chinese brands also started to promote themselves on social media and asked people to give them a chance to prove themselves.

People showed particular interest in Super 28, a detergent brand founded in 1950. Three humble middle-aged factory employees of the company began a livestream on its official Douyin account on Wednesday. The trio wanted to seize the opportunity to revive the brand, but clearly knew little about selling products on social media, according to followers. Viewers had to teach them how to list products during the livestreaming sessions.

By Thursday, their sincerity and the quality of the company's products had helped the brand's Douyin account attract more than 1.61 million followers, with all available stock sold out on that day.

Many netizens said they were surprised to see that some of the brands and products that were popular during their childhood still existed. Some brands gained further respect after followers learned that the parent companies had donated money and goods to help China win the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).

Many of the brands, including Bee & Flower and Super 28, announced that they would not livestream on Monday, the 92nd anniversary of the September 18 Incident that marked the start of Japan's invasion of China. They also asked people to remember history and cherish peace.

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