A pharmacist processes a traditional Chinese medicine at a Beijing Tongrentang Group Co Ltd's factory in Beijing. (Photo: China Daily)
Traditional Chinese medicine brand Tongrentang caught the attention of netizens recently with its innovative idea of selling milk tea and coffee, infused with traditional Chinese herbs.
It is hard for customers to associate an old TCM brand founded in 1669 with a more recent beverage. But this marks Tongrentang Health's entry into new retail.
Tongrentang Cafe is the brand's offline shop, serving as a cafe, healthcare retail shop and healthcare center. Here, customers can enjoy beverages containing Chinese herbs, buy traditional Chinese healthcare products and consult TCM experts.
Tongrentang's foray into new retail shows how TCM is trying to meet the demands of youngsters who have a strong purchasing power. Despite being a famous Chinese brand, Tongrentang has traditionally targeted middle-aged and elderly consumers. However, it sensed an opportunity on noticing that those born after 1990, although not particularly fans of TCM, were keen on healthcare. It quickly tried to capture a share of the market by infusing popular beverages such as milk tea and coffee with traditional Chinese herbs. In doing so, it also transformed the TCM shop into a fashionable cafe and retail store, attracting youngsters and promoting the traditional Chinese herbal medicine culture.
Tongrentang's experiment shows the way for TCM brands to evolve and keep pace with the changing times, by increasing their popularity and attracting the most important customer group of the future, the youngsters.
Many traditional Chinese brands face problems marketing themselves to attract young customers, who feel the products are outdated. Chinese brands should consider experimenting with new retail methods, such as setting up popular retail stores, and running internet-based promotion campaigns to promote themselves before youngsters in order to stay afloat in the market of the future.