Many old Chinese brands are trying to make a comeback. Among them is Zhengguanghe, a Shanghai beverage that once took the whole country by storm, with a history of 150 years.
There was a time when Shanghai's orange squash was just like Coca Cola – in the 1930s, it had an almost 90-percent market share among China's young. Imported beverages swamped the market later, but Zhengguanghe is still around and has decided to make a nostalgia-driven comeback – it's copied the old flavor, the bottle, and even the straws.
People born in the 1940s and 1950s may have fond memories of the vintage orange squash, and Zhengguanghe is hoping that classic appeal can win over the younger generation.
"We want people to recall their memories, and let consumers remember their childhoods and tell their children. There are not many things that can be passed on from one generation to the next, and we hope our drink can be something shared between the different generations," said Zhu Weidong, general manager at Shanghai Aquarius.
The orange squash is not on the market yet – it will launch in the middle of June. But so far the company has made 1.2 million bottles, from which it hopes to make 10 million yuan in revenue. The reappearance of the orange squash may help Zhenguanghe stand out among China's classic time-honored brands since the country's major new force of purchasing power – young Chinese – do seem to veer toward vintage styles.
However, can young people help sustain the growth of classic firms? Some experts have warned brands need to be careful in adjusting their products to cater to the sophisticated demands of today's young consumers, especially by offering higher quality content.
"Modern Chinese consumers would like the high quality of products. No matter it's from a newly established brand or a 100-year-old brand. Deep down, consumers would like high-quality products; whether your products present a superior quality," said George Ren, senior partner of Roland Berger.
No matter whether the products are modern or retro, young sales channels are still the key to helping old brands push up their sales. Zhenguanghe will cooperate with live streaming broadcasters to sell their orange squash on T-mall.
And a tasty bottle of Shanghai's classic favorite will cost you 7.8 yuan (about 1.1 U.S. dollars).