SHANGHAI: It might seem like once common brands like Zhang Xiaoquan Scissors,
Nu'er Hong wine and old Beijing cloth shoes have faded into the past - but they
have just migrated to the Internet.
Several traditional brands, some of them as much as a century old, have found
a second life on commercial websites like Taobao.com.
"I thought such gadgets had disappeared," said Feng Lun, who was looking for
a pair of old-style hair-clippers so that he could give his pet cat a trim.
"Every household seemed to have a pair of (Double Arrow brand clippers) 20
years ago. All boys had their heads shaved with such clippers."
Feng said he had all but given up hope of finding a pair of the clippers in
Shanghai, but then he went online and found 14 websites selling them.
"We intentionally invited companies selling traditional name brands," said a
spokesperson for Taobao.com who preferred to remain anonymous.
"We saw it as our social responsibility to help promote and preserve
traditional Chinese culture and Chinese cuisine. Besides, netizens love the old
names related to their memories of childhood."
And the new sales channel has been good for the brands themselves.
Sanzhenzhai, a snack brand based in suburban Shanghai's Jiading District, once
sold more than 10,000 yuan worth of products within a week on the web. This was
more than it typically sells at its outlets.
"An important reason for us to open a shop on the Web was to get a better
sense of what our customers wanted," Li Sa, sales manager of Sanzhenzhai, told
the Labor Daily.
When the Web shop opened for business, Li noticed that many people were
leaving messages asking for a discontinued line of glutinous rice cakes with
salty pork filling. The company decided to resume production in response.
More than 30 old brand names, some with histories of 100 years, now operate
shops on Taobao.com. The website is hoping to attract more of them by providing
"We may launch a virtual street featuring old brands in the coming months,"
said the spokesperson.
"We check out anyone selling traditional name brands. The online shops are
either operated by the brand owner or with their authorization. We don't want to
have their reputations damaged by fakes."
(China Daily 06/14/2007 page5)