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Thread: Follow the White Rabbit

  1. #1
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    Of course - White Rabbit - I used to love those candies

    They used to come in these bright red tins with a white rabbit hopping past a giant mushroom with a red cap and white polka dots. How can you not love that?
    27 January 2011
    China White Rabbit sweets hop into Lunar New Year

    An advertisement poster shows Chinese actress Zhao Wei posing with White Rabbit sweets at a supermarket in Suzhou. The makers of China's White Rabbit sweets -- hit hard by a massive tainted milk scandal in 2008 -- hope the beloved brand will make the leap into the 21st century in the coming Year of the Rabbit.

    A Chinese salesgirl sells bags of the popular White Rabbit sweets to customers at a shop in Shanghai. The sweets, first made in Shanghai in 1943, will be promoted in a pioneering overseas ad campaign and featured in a Chinese animated film tie-in to mark the coming Year of the Rabbit.

    A worker dressed in a White Rabbit costume promotes the Chinese sweets outside a supermarket in Shanghai. White Rabbit's storied history is due in part to the edible rice paper wrapper that envelopes the sweets, fascinating children in China and around the world and helping to make it one of the country's most recognised brands.


    AFP - The makers of China's White Rabbit sweets -- hit hard by a massive tainted milk scandal in 2008 -- hope the beloved brand will make the leap into the 21st century in the coming Year of the Rabbit.

    As the rabbit is the star of the Chinese lunar calendar only once every 12 years, 2011 will be the start of an ambitious period for the milk-flavoured "creamy candies", a senior executive at Guan Sheng Yuan Group said.

    The sweets, first made in Shanghai in 1943, will be promoted in a pioneering overseas ad campaign and featured in a Chinese animated film tie-in. The company also plans to more than double production and widen its offerings.

    "Every year we rank as the number one milk candy in China, so we are always positive about the growth outlook," group general manager Lan Xue told AFP.

    "Throughout its history, White Rabbit has always been just a soft candy, but now we're promoting new products like White Rabbit hard candy and bubble gum."

    The confectioner has moved on from a trying 2008, when it halted sales in China and 50 other countries after the sweets were found to contain melamine -- an industrial chemical illegally added to Chinese dairy products to make their protein content seem higher.

    The scandal bankrupted Sanlu, once one of China's largest milk firms, after six infants died and nearly 300,000 fell ill -- but White Rabbit survived.

    The sweets, which contain 45 percent milk powder, were relaunched in China a month later with "melamine-free" labels and banners in stores reading "a healthy White Rabbit is jumping back into a big market".

    State-controlled Guan Sheng Yuan does not release specific financial figures, but Lan said White Rabbit sales rose 20 percent on-year in 2010 and net profit climbed 18 percent.

    James Roy, a senior analyst at China Market Research Group in Shanghai, said Guan Sheng Yuan's plans for White Rabbit showed it was moving in the right direction.

    "I think a way for a very traditional brand like White Rabbit to regain trust from customers would be to modernise the image somewhat," Wolf told AFP.

    "I think it makes sense for them not to shy away and be very low-profile but take the brand in a new direction. It is something that is very difficult to bounce back from fully once you get tarred with that image."

    White Rabbit's storied history is due in part to the edible rice paper wrapper that envelopes the sweets, fascinating children in China and around the world and helping to make it one of the country's most recognised brands.

    The sweets were presented as a state gift to US president Richard Nixon in 1972.

    The company's Year of the Rabbit campaign starts with the third animated "Pleasant Goat and Big Bad Wolf" film, a hit children's series that opens in mainland cinemas next week to coincide with the Chinese New Year holiday.

    The mascot for White Rabbit's new lollipop line is a character in the film, Lan said.

    Guan Sheng Yuan will launch its first-ever White Rabbit ads in Singapore and other markets with large ethnic Chinese populations to "remind them of home", Lan said. Previously, only distributors promoted the brand overseas.

    The confectioner will also step up promotions in rural China, where incomes are rising fast and the number of supermarkets is growing with them, the executive said.

    "In the Year of the Rabbit, we will place more White Rabbit promotional displays in supermarkets and food shops than ever," he added.

    White Rabbit's makers also broke ground last month on a new Shanghai factory to replace its 1950s facilities. The plant will push up production of the sweet by 2.5 times the current level once it is completed in 2012.
    Gene Ching
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  2. #2
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    White rabbits?

    So, not many people chasing white rabbits.....might be a hit in SF.
    Guangzhou Pak Mei Kung Fu School, Sydney Australia,
    Sifu Leung, Yuk Seng
    Established 1989, Glebe Australia

  3. #3
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    ttt for 2018!

    This is the only thread that mentions candy - that was a guilty pleasure of mine as Asian candies go.

    I would totally try the lip balm.

    White Rabbit lip balm, spicy duck lipstick – Chinese food brands’ crossover beauty products
    The first batch of White Rabbit lip balm sold out within seconds, and the nostalgic food brand isn’t alone when it comes to viral marketing of beauty products
    PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2018, 10:45am
    UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2018, 7:14pm
    Linda Lew
    https://twitter.com/Lindadalew
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindadalew



    The White Rabbit milk-flavoured candy has been a long-time favourite of Chinese children; however, the brand’s newest offering, infused with the essences of olive and sweet almonds, is not a piece of confectionery – it’s a lip balm.

    In collaboration with Shanghai cosmetics company Meijiajing, the limited-edition product went on presale last month on Tmall, a Chinese e-commerce platform. The first batch of 920 sold out in seconds.

    “How to make our brand younger, as well as adding nostalgia and emotion, is something we have been exploring,” says Shen Qinfeng from White Rabbit’s parent company, Guanshengyuan.

    White Rabbit is one of several Chinese food companies to have introduced surprising crossover beauty products recently. Luzhou Laojiao, a 68-year-old Chinese liquor company, released a perfume earlier this year, while Zhou Hei Ya, a Hong Kong-listed company best known for selling spicy duck, introduced a line of “Hot Kisses” lipsticks in June.


    White Rabbit lip balm.

    In a country going through a rapid consumption upgrade and digitisation of shopping habits, companies are increasingly coming up with exciting concepts to attract young consumers who have higher spending power and are buying online.

    “I feel for Chinese brands that have a lot of history like ours, we not only need to stay classic but become viral as well,” Meijiajing brand manager Li Chenshen told KNews on the launch of the White Rabbit lip balm.

    Going viral translates into sales. According to the China Internet Report from the Post and 500 start-ups, Pinduoduo – a social e-commerce company that allows user to participate in group buying deals – has reached 100 billion yuan (US$14 billion) in gross merchandise sales in two and a half years. For Alibaba’s Taobao e-commerce platform (Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post), it took five years to reach this figure.


    White Rabbit candy. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

    It is no coincidence, then, that Chinese food companies are choosing beauty products for crossover campaigns. Market research firm Euromonitor assessed the beauty and personal care industry in China to be worth 361.5 billion yuan in 2017. Lip products are growing especially fast, with a 35 per cent increase in the category’s total market turnover in the last year.

    “Lip products continued to record the most dynamic growth in 2017[ …] In addition, limited editions will also boost sales,” wrote a 2017 Euromonitor industry report.

    The trend of food-themed beauty product crossovers seems to have been started by Pizza Hut, who launched a perfume with the tagline, “Smell ya later!”, in 2012. The campaign began as a joke on the company’s social media and eventually led to an unspecified number of the product being made.

    Here are four beauty crossover products from Chinese food and beverage companies.


    The first batch of White Rabbit lip balm sold out in seconds.

    White Rabbit lip balm

    News of the limited-edition lip balm generated hundreds of comments on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, and the presale sold out in seconds. The packaging is designed to invoke maximum nostalgia as it looks exactly like the iconic candy that generations of Chinese children have grown up with.

    “What if I mistake it for the White Rabbit candy and eat it?” one Weibo user posted.

    Another release has been planned for November.


    Zhou Hei Ya spicy lipstick.

    Zhou Hei Ya “Hot Kisses” lipsticks

    The Wuhan-based food company is known for its spicy braised duck and went public on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2016. The Zhou Hei Ya “Hot Kisses” lipsticks were launched together with Chinese beauty company Unifon. It comes in three different shades.

    The product was promoted by Tmall and Vogue, which filmed an advertisement featuring a model taking a bite out of a Zhou Hei Ya braised duck before applying the lipstick.


    Luzhou Laojiao Perfume.

    Luzhou Laojiao sorghum liquor perfume

    The liquor company is named after Luzhou in Sichuan province, where sorghum liquor has been brewed for hundreds of years. The brand has a macho image, as the drink is popular with older Chinese men; however, the Luzhou Laojiao perfume, released this year, has a very feminine design with a light pink bottle and flowers on the packaging.

    “Luzhou streets are filled with the fragrance of liquor. Now, Luzhou Laojiao will use a brand new way to interpret the charms of our city,” the company wrote in the advertising for the perfume, which is no longer on sale.


    Fulinmen make-up remover.

    Fulinmen make-up remover

    Fulinmen is a manufacturer of cooking oils and its products can be found in many Chinese households. It worked together with cosmetics brand Afu on a make-up remover that was sold on Tmall.

    The product features gold “fu” characters on its packaging, which is Chinese for happiness and makes up part of the cooking oil brand’s name.
    Gene Ching
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  4. #4
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    Sugar high bunny munch

    I poached the posts above off the 2011 Year of the Iron Bunny thread.

    How China’s iconic White Rabbit sweets went from a Shanghai favourite to being known the world over
    After first appearing in the 1940s, the candy’s iconic branding and edible rice paper wrapping gave it a special place in China’s collective memory and history. They are now exported to more than 40 countries worldwide
    PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 April, 2018, 5:18pm
    UPDATED : Saturday, 28 April, 2018, 6:49pm
    Helen Roxburgh



    Ask anyone in Shanghai to name their favourite candy and there will only be one answer. The familiar white, red and blue wrappers of White Rabbit Creamy Candy have been a staple among sweet tooths in China and overseas for nearly eight decades.

    The milk candies now known as White Rabbit first appeared in the 1940s, and have been synonymous with Shanghai ever since. Their iconic branding and edible rice paper wrapping occupy a special place in the city’s collective memory and history.

    For Shanghai native Terry Yang, these retro sweets are part of his family history too. The 23-year-old’s grandmother used to work in a store that sold the popular sweets in the 1970s, and would bring them home for her children, who in turn bought them for their own children.

    “Every year, my grandparents still get plenty of White Rabbit candies for Lunar New Year. It’s a tradition in our family,” he says.

    German-born sinologist Maja von dem Bongart has lived in Shanghai for more than two decades, originally moving there with her young family. “White Rabbit has always been a part of my memory of Shanghai. My children still buy them when they are back here,” she says.

    The sweets have also been adapted into new forms, with Shanghainese chef Tony Lu at the Mandarin Oriental even whipping up a White Rabbit ice cream for one of the luxury hotel’s seasonal menus.

    “I have happy memories of eating White Rabbit myself when I was a child,” confesses Shen Qinfeng, marketing manager for the state-owned Guan Sheng Yuan Food Group, which manufactures White Rabbit Creamy Candy. “It wasn’t very common to have these treats then, and I can still remember the rice paper melting in my mouth.”


    A vintage White Rabbit advertisement. Photo: Guan Sheng Yuan Food Group

    To show that his appetite for White Rabbit is not only nostalgia, Shen plunges both hands into his pockets and pulls out large fistfuls of the candies to pass around.

    Although the famous art-deco-inspired wrapper is recognisable across China, not every fan of the candy will know that White Rabbit sweets did not initially feature a rabbit at all. Originally launched by private company ABC in 1943, and inspired by British creamy candy, the sweets were first called Mickey Mouse Sweets, and the wrappers featured the famed Disney rodent.




    A White Rabbit tin from the 1960s. Photo: Guan Sheng Yuan Food Group

    During the political upheaval of the 1950s, private companies such as ABC were nationalised and the use of Western imagery became politically sensitive. The rodent became a rabbit in 1959, and White Rabbit candies were officially launched.

    In 1976, ABC (by then renamed Ai-Ming) was absorbed by the state-run Guan Sheng Yuan Food Co. Originally producing the sweets at Caobao Road in Shanghai’s city centre, Guan Sheng Yuan’s new factory opened in 2013 a few hours south of central Shanghai, in a development zone nestled amid rural farmland and streams in Fengxian district. The factory is hard to miss, not least because two enormous white rabbit figures peep out from behind the border hedge to greet guests.


    The production line at the old White Rabbit factory at Caobao Road, Shanghai. Photo: Guan Sheng Yuan Food Group

    Inside, the sickly sweet smell of sugar from the factory’s long production line wafts up to greet visitors. More than 24,000 tonnes of the sweets are produced here every year by about 500 staff members, although the workforce doubles during the high season from October to February to meet demand. Across China, White Rabbit Creamy Candy accounts for about five per cent of all candies sold, and Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, the week-long National Day holiday and Christmas are some of their busiest times.


    Shen Qinfeng, marketing manager for the Guan Sheng Yuan Food Group. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

    For many staff, the brand is a lifelong love. Shen has been at the company for 15 years, while the company’s deputy general manager, Jiang Changyuan, has worked at Guan Sheng Yuan for 33 years. He says he has been treating generations of his family with the famous sweets on special occasions for years. Factory workers get bags of the candies to take home at Lunar New Year, and the conference room has bowls of different flavoured treats laid out for snacking executives.


    The White Rabbit factory today in Fengxian District, Shanghai. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

    “The brand has become so iconic in China because of its history,” says Shen. “After the launch of the new China, there was a lack of materials and ingredients, so White Rabbit was the pioneer in making these kind of milk sweets. It’s not just a kind of sweet – it’s a good memory of China in the past.”

    White Rabbit sweets are also inseparable from China’s political history. In 1959, the candies were given out in the city as gifts for the 10th National Day of the People’s Republic. Former premier Zhou Enlai – who was said to always have a bag on his desk – gave White Rabbit candies as a gift to American president Richard Nixon during his historic 1972 visit to China. And in 2013, President Xi Jinping visited the new factory in southern Shanghai, and handed out the sweets to officials and children on a visit in the same year to Mongolia.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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  5. #5
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    Continued from previous post


    Products available at the White Rabbit factory in Shanghai. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

    Before China’s economic opening up, White Rabbit completely dominated the domestic market. A limited production run meant demand always outstripped supply and, Shen says, buyers used to park outside the factory to stock up cars with the sweets, driving them to other provinces to sell on to consumers.

    “The high point for the brand was in the ‘80s and ‘90s – those were really good times for White Rabbit,” Shen says. “Although China was opening up, a lot of brands from abroad had not yet entered the market, and White Rabbit was the main quality option at that time. If the consumers wanted to buy some sweets, White Rabbit would come to their minds first.”


    Jiang Changyuan, deputy general manager of the Guan Sheng Yuan Food Group in Shanghai. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

    But as Chinese consumers and tastes change, White Rabbit has found itself competing for attention in a busy and cosmopolitan market. Many imported sweets can now be seen on the shelves of Shanghai’s supermarkets and convenience stores, and the iconic rabbits have struggled to keep market share, leading the company to diversify its products.

    “The biggest focus for us right now is to stick to White Rabbit’s tradition while also being innovative,” Shen explains. “Older people grew up eating White Rabbit, but the younger generation know the sweet because their parents, their grandparents like it. Younger children now have so many options for sweets and candies – our focus now is how to make White Rabbit appeal to the younger generation.”

    White Rabbit sweets ready to be eaten. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
    Increasingly health-conscious consumers in China are also shifting away from too much sugar in their diets, particularly for their children. While the sweet was once thought to be a healthy option because it contained milk, parents are now better informed now about the health implications of sugar.

    The brand was also hit by the country’s 2008 melamine scandal.


    A worker inside the White Rabbit sweet factory in Shanghai. Photo: Lea Li

    When more than 52,000 children were made ill by melamine-tainted dairy products in China, White Rabbit was listed among the many milk-based food products that were found to be contaminated with the chemical compound. British supermarket chain Tesco removed White Rabbit sweets from its stores, while food authorities in Australia, the US and Singapore issued cautions or recalls over the product. All this affected the brand’s reputation and sales.


    Staff go to work at Shanghai’s White Rabbit factory. Photo: Lea Li

    Undeterred, the brand has been mounting a comeback during the past decade. White Rabbit now only uses imported milk powder from New Zealand to reassure consumers. In a bid to compete with imported brands, the company has introduced a variety of new flavours, including chocolate, peanut, red bean and yogurt. There are now more than 30 products in the White Rabbit brand line – although the classic flavour remains the bestselling sweet.


    The famous White Rabbit wrappers are produced. Photo: Lea Li

    The brand is also finding more fans in international markets. Shanghai’s White Rabbits are now exported to more than 40 countries and territories, finding particular popularity in Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.


    The popular sweets roll off the factory’s conveyor belt. Photo: Photo: Lea Li

    The sweets are also sold in the US and Europe. Exports only account for about five per cent of total sales, but Guan Sheng Yuan has ambitions to grow this.

    As these retro sweets forge into new markets, new consumer groups and new tastes, balancing tradition and modernity will be the key challenge.

    Made in Hong Kong: Eu Yan Sang’s 138-year journey making traditional Chinese medicine has been a bumpy one
    “White Rabbit is not only a sweet, but a symbol of happiness. It’s a bridge between different people – between guests, and family members,” Shen concludes. “Nowadays, society is very crowded and busy. White Rabbit candy can take you back to the peaceful days, and provide happy and calm moments.”

    Additional reporting by Wu Tong

    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Sugar high bunny munch
    Luv that title - Sugar High Bunny Munch would make a great J-pop girl band name.
    Gene Ching
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  6. #6
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    ttt 4 2019!

    Woah. A White Rabbit unauthorized 'knock-off' by a Los Angeles ice cream maker.

    White Rabbit ice cream is a hit in Los Angeles
    Shanghai-based candy manufacturer calls the flavor 'unauthorized'
    by Jethro Kang March 5, 2019 in Food


    Photo via Food & Wine.

    An ice cream made with the famous Chinese candy White Rabbit has proven so popular in Los Angeles over the past Lunar New Year despite it being “unauthorized,” said the Shanghai-based sweets manufacturer.

    Wanderlust Creamery in Los Angeles created the flavor with website Foodbeast using 1.3 pieces of the iconic candy in each scoop, including the edible paper wrap, which is mixed into a milk and butter base, said Wanderlust co-founder Jon-Patrick Lopez. The candy wrapper is also used around the cone.

    The ice cream debuted over Chinese New Year and was originally planned as a special throughout February. Between February 1 and 20, Wanderlust sold 50 gallons of White Rabbit ice cream, then sold 50 more gallons in three days as news soon spread via Facebook, Instagram, and WeChat.



    Wanderlust now plans to extend the offering to March, but they’re having difficulty sourcing the White Rabbit candy. Stock is not readily available, and rival ice cream makers are also creating White Rabbit flavors and competing for supply.

    They might soon encounter yet another obstacle: White Rabbit manufacturer Guan Sheng Yuan, which has been making the candy since 1959, told Shanghai Morning Post that the product was created without authorization and the company has not “cooperated with any relevant parties.” Their US agent is currently investigating for possible brand infringement.

    Yet China Daily reported that Guan Sheng Yuan was “inspired by the creation of the White Rabbit ice cream in the US.”

    While Wanderlust has inspired copycats in the US as well as in Malaysia and the Philippines, they aren’t the first ice cream maker to dream up a White Rabbit flavor. Singapore dessert cafe Sunday Folks introduced a similar ice cream last November called Little White Rabbit.
    I'd be all over this if I wasn't lactose intolerant and pre-diabetic.
    Gene Ching
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  7. #7
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    guochao

    China’s home-grown brands benefiting from resurgence as trade war shifts focus closer to home
    Trend, known as ‘guochao’ in Chinese, sees storied brands reinventing themselves with crossover and ancillary products to entice a new breed of millennial shoppers
    Warrior trainers and Shanghai M&G Stationery also drawing renewed interest as focus shifts to domestic consumption-driven growth amid the US-China trade war
    Elaine Chan
    Published: 9:30pm, 3 Jun, 2019


    White Rabbit candy was presented to US president Richard Nixon during his visit to China in 1972 by then premier Zhou Enlai. Photo: AFP

    China’s iconic White Rabbit candy, which 47 years ago was a symbol of warming US-China ties, is drawing renewed interest as part of a wave of Chinese home-grown brand fever that is building among domestic consumers amid the prolonged trade war.
    The milk-flavoured candy, which was presented to US president Richard Nixon during his visit to China in 1972 by then premier Zhou Enlai, is among a handful of storied Chinese brands reinventing themselves with crossover and ancillary products to entice a new breed of millennial shoppers, riding on the trend known as guochao in Chinese.
    Such demand will help, albeit on relatively small scale now, Beijing’s move to shift the economy to domestic consumption-driven growth to counter falling exports and the country’s biggest economic slowdown in nearly three decades, compounded by the trade war with the US. It would also support the nation’s drive to build up indigenous brands, products and services that will reduce its reliance on Western imports.
    “The government will definitely support guochao, as this helps raise the commercial value of Chinese brands,” said Jason Yu, general manager of Kantar Worldpanel China.
    It is not just the historical or time-honoured brands like White Rabbit, Warrior trainers and Shanghai M&G Stationery that have benefited from the trend, new domestic brands are very much part of the wave.
    Increasing domestic interest, especially among younger consumers, is a natural course in any country’s development story and not necessarily fuelled by nationalistic sentiments because of the US-China trade war, said Shen Qinfeng, marketing manager of state-owned Guan Sheng Yuan (Group), a 104-year-old Shanghai-based confectionery and foodstuff manufacturer which produces White Rabbit candy.
    “Consumers [today] are more open to new things and ideas … acceptance of local brands is an inevitable development,” Shen said, adding that guochao is a recognition that domestic products are not inferior in quality compared to foreign goods.
    Research by Tencent Holdings, operator of China’s biggest social media and video gaming businesses, showed that consumers born after 2000 are filled with ethnic pride and self-esteem, and believe that buying domestic brands means supporting the country. The report last year, which tapped into the company’s data that pooled together 72 online diaries of people born after 2000, 24 in-depth interviews and survey findings from 15,000 questionnaires, also found that more than half of the respondents dismissed foreign brands as having additional value.
    Consumers [today] are more open to new things and ideas … acceptance of local brands is an inevitable development
    Shen Qinfeng
    The rise of guochao is backed by China’s biggest online retailers like Alibaba Group, which owns the South China Morning Post, and JD.com, which have in the last few years put their weight behind the China Brand Day initiative, now in its third year. It was launched in May 2017 by Premier Li Keqiang as an extension of the nation’s “Made in China 2025” industrial strategy to lift the country’s manufacturing value chain.
    In a report released jointly with the data arm of China Business News in August, Alibaba’s Taobao said online sales for China-designed and Chinese products on its platform increased by 17 per cent in 2017.
    Almost half of the consumers were born after 1990-1995, the report said, with the average number of online consumers reaching 480,000 per day. The online platform hosted more than 300 indigenous Chinese brand shops on its platform by the first half of last year.
    Kantar Worldpanel’s Yu said the resurgence of Chinese brands was driven in part by investors who recognised opportunities with domestic brands, including old ones.


    Warrior trainers and Shanghai M&G Stationery have also benefited from the trend. Photo: Handout

    “[Time-honoured] Chinese brands are often seen as dated, and they need to look for breakthroughs,” Yu said. “From a branding perspective, they need to incorporate energy, fashion and design to attract young consumers.”
    White Rabbit launched a perfume and body care product line infused with its signature milk candy scent in partnership with Chinese fragrance store Scent Library China last month after it also collaborated with Shanghai cosmetics maker Meijiajing to produce a lip balm last year.
    Shen said the response from consumers has been encouraging and the food manufacturer would launch ancillary products like mugs, cushions, document folders and bags.

    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Domestic brands win new fans as trade war endures
    Forget 'warrior trainers'. KFM Forum members rock Feiyues!
    Gene Ching
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    Guochao (国潮) literally “national hip”



    Can ‘Made in China’ be cool? Yes, if the West thinks so
    Jiaqi Luo
    SEP 18, 2019

    Guochao (国潮), literally “national hip,” is the latest buzzword in the Chinese fashion world.

    The term initially referred to specific homegrown streetwear brands but now encompasses any Chinese aesthetic that counters style references from the West.

    That includes heritage brands like Feiyue, Li-Ning, and Warrior, apparel makers that were once popular in the 1970s and ’80s but overtaken by foreign brands like Nike and Adidas because of their global prestige.

    Now, Chinese youngsters wear guochao as a badge of pride, akin to the “Made in America” label in the United States. Call it Chinese retro.


    Feiyue, a Chinese sneaker brand, has benefited from the guochao resurgence. / Photo: Tmall

    And with the ongoing political crisis in Hong Kong and the U.S.-China trade war, the youth in China desire guochao more than ever.

    The Chinese media consistently portrays guochao as the result of “cultural self-confidence” (文化自信), that with economic power comes cultural might as well. China, they say, has had enough time chasing Western fashion and culture, and it’s time to embrace their own.

    Ironically, much of guochao’s rise can also be attributed to the recognition of these brands in the West.

    But ironically, much of guochao’s rise can also be attributed to the recognition of these brands in the West.

    Feiyue, for example, became a global street fashion icon after a French entrepreneur discovered the shoes while learning martial arts in China. He bought the rights to sell them in France, and the shoes took off.

    That this “Western gaze” is embedded in guochao makes it a complicated cultural trend. How Chinese millennials feel about heritage brands is a reflection of how they see their country: proud of its achievements but also aware that it still seeks validation from the West.

    What is guochao?

    Western media tends to portray guochao as the result of Chinese millennials looking back to their cultural heritage and generating renewed interest in Chinese culture.

    But what excites millennials more about guochao is the transformation of old heritage brands into nostalgic chic. Because embedded in the story of guochao is the story of China’s rise.

    One can pinpoint the start of guochao to February 2018, when Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning showcased its Taoism-inspired Wu Dao collection at New York Fashion Week.


    Li-Ning’s fall-winter collection at New York Fashion Week 2018. / Photo: Shutterstock

    The show instantly became a social media sensation in China, where Li-Ning was lauded for “making it” in New York. Online posts juxtaposed photos of old Li-Ning products alongside new ones with the caption, “This is not the Li-Ning you knew.”

    The narrative? A brand as dull and basic as Li-Ning could now turn heads with a Chinese flag design in glamorous New York.

    After the Fashion Week hubbub, guochao emerged. Before, the word for heritage brands like Li-Ning was 国货 (guohuo), or “national product.” Now, they were not just products; they were cool, hip, and stylish.

    Before, the word for heritage brands like Li-Ning was 国货 (guohuo), or “national product.” Now, they were not just products; they were cool, hip, and stylish.

    Other brands started to jump on the guochao bandwagon, reimagining their products to capitalized on the nostalgia of millennials.

    Hero, whose ink pens were a staple of primary school writing classes, launched an ink-colored cocktail with liquor distiller Rio, and Pehchaolin, a facial cream popular in the 1980s, collaborated with the Palace Museum on a chic cosmetics line.


    The original Pehchaolin cream (right) and the Palace Museum collab. / Photo: Pehchaolin

    White Rabbit, known for its milk candies, launched a candy-scented perfume with Scent Library and even came up with a White Rabbit-scented lip balm with cosmetics maker Maxam.

    All these products were sold out overnight.

    While these heritage brands sought to capitalize on their image among a domestic audience, others looked abroad.

    Warrior, a shoe brand worn by Chinese schoolkids in the ’80s and ’90s, has gone through a rebranding and now sells its signature sneakers at around $90 a pair overseas. In China, the same model goes for $9.


    Warrior rebranded for the Western consumer. / Photo: Warrior

    And then there’s Feiyue, the once forgotten shoe brand from Shanghai that re-emerged after Patrice Bastian started selling the sneakers in France in 2006.

    The shoes quickly became a street fashion icon. Celebrities like Orlando Bloom and Poppy Delevingne were spotted in them. Collaborations with Celine, Marvel, and Swarovski soon followed.


    Orlando Bloom wearing Feiyue sneakers on the set of "New York, I Love You." / Photo: Weibo

    Within China, the brand saw a revival. Millennials who once thumbed their noses at Feiyue in favor of Nike and Adidas started buying them again. Ironically, it had taken recognition from the West to raise Feiyue’s profile in its home country.

    Patriotism as fashion, or why “a loser strikes back” narrative works

    In Chinese classrooms, students are taught at a young age that the last 100 years was a “century of humiliation.” Events such as China’s defeat in the Opium Wars and the destruction of the Old Summer Palace by European forces remain an indelible part of history education.

    Against this backdrop, China’s economic miracle is seen as the country catching up to the West. In colloquial language, it’s known as 屌丝逆袭 (diaosinixi), literally “loser strikes back.”

    The usefulness of this narrative has not been lost on the government, which has called the renaissance of Chinese brands “the result of rising cultural self-confidence.”

    Buying domestic brands is now a patriotic act.

    Buying domestic brands is now a patriotic act, and consumers will not hesitate to boycott foreign labels that they feel have tarnished China’s image.

    Dolce & Gabbana took a hammering last year after releasing an advertisement that was perceived as racist. Versace and Coach sparked outrage last month for shirts that apparently suggested Hong Kong was separate from China.

    And amid the U.S.-China trade war, many former Apple users have switched to Chinese-made Huawei to show their solidarity, boosting Huawei’s smartphone sales by 16.5% in the second quarter this year, while Apple’s declined 13.8%, according to research firm Gartner.

    It’s not uncommon to find reviews that say, “I support Chinese brands,” rather than comments on the product itself.

    In online shopping sites, it’s not uncommon to find reviews that say, “I support Chinese brands,” rather than comments on the product itself.

    And the latest development in the guochao trend is buying Chinese wear before going abroad.

    “I got a bunch of Li-Ning T-shirts for my trip,” says Jack Song, a 23-year-old Guangzhou native. “I think it will make me look cool in Europe.”

    Herein lies one of the great contradictions of guochao. Underlying this newly empowered Chinese identity is a desire to prove oneself. The message is not “this is how great China is” but rather “see how much China has changed.” For a generation that grew up with stories of humiliation from the West and viewing foreign brands as superior, international recognition is still important.

    But there are signs that the next generation—those born after the year 2000—might see things differently. They are coming of age in a China that’s developing its own brands and technology. They’re wealthier, more independent, and they view domestic products as superior because they actually believe they’re faster, better, and more innovative.

    Today’s guochao might be about the “loser striking back,” but tomorrow’s might see a different narrative.

    Want to learn more about Chinese heritage brands and how they came to be? Keep swiping for our series Retro China, where we explore the stories behind some of China’s most beloved brands.


    Jiaqi Luo
    Jiaqi Luo is a writer based in Milan. She writes about fashion and style in contemporary China. Her work has appeared in Jing Daily, The Business of Fashion China, and The Luxury Conversation.
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    Gene Ching
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  9. #9
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    I must confess, I've eaten my share of white rabbit candies.

    No regrets!
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  10. #10
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    Looks like ice cream was a good idea after all

    White Rabbit launch ice cream crossover with Godiva
    chinadaily.com.cn, September 5, 2019


    The Godiva-White Rabbit ice cream. [Photo/VCG]

    Guanshengyuan Group, producers of White Rabbit candy, has launched a pop-up store in collaboration with Belgian chocolate brand Godiva.

    The store offers two flavors of ice creams, which have been much anticipated since March when a US food company launched White Rabbit-flavored ice cream as a Chinese New Year special for Asian-Americans. The product was a major success.

    The Godiva-White Rabbit pop-up store, which opened at Raffles City near Shanghai's People's Square on Sept 3, sells two flavors of ice cream at 55 yuan ($7.68) each.

    The ice creams, which are made with crushed White Rabbit candy and a bar of Godiva chocolate, are wrapped with the brand's classic glutinous rice paper.

    The company last year launched a candy-flavored lip balm with cosmetic brand MAXAM.

    In May, the company worked with Scent Library to debut a perfume, shower gel and hand cream. The company also launched a milk tea series in partnership with Shanghai-based drinks brand Happy Lemon.

    Most of these products are also available in the pop-up store, which will open for three weeks.

    The company said more pop-up stores will open in other cities soon, including Hangzhou of Zhejiang Province, Beijing, and Sichuan provincial capital - Chengdu, Shen Qinfeng, Guangshengyuan Group marketing manager, told online news outlet ThePaper.
    Quote Originally Posted by David Jamieson View Post
    I must confess, I've eaten my share of white rabbit candies.

    No regrets!
    I'm so with you on this, David. I loved those tin boxes with the White Rabbit jumping over the mushroom. I used to bring to Dead shows all the time. Deadheads loved them and always absconded with them for their stash boxes.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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