Era of high-tech builds a strong “Made in China” brand in Qingdao
Reporter: Chen Ziqi; narrated by Ken Smith
Qingdao is the largest city in Shandong province on the east coast of China. [Photo: from VCG]
As a coastal city in Shandong province, Qingdao is upgrading its diverse industries, including textile, beverage, home appliance, tire manufacturing, and intelligent transport systems in the era of the internet and advancements in the high-tech industries. As a result, the city is facilitating the building of a strong and expressive brand of "Made in China."
Tsingtao Beer [Photo: from VCG]
Tsingtao Beer, a Chinese domestic brewery with over a hundred-year history, is prevalent around the globe. Currently, customers in over 80 countries and regions have the opportunity to enjoy Qingdao beer, including the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Australia and South Korea.
Chu Liangjing is vice general manager for the overseas market of the Tsingtao Brewery. He explains the company's marketing strategy.
"We are aware of the importance of Chinese elements, so we involve numerous Chinese culture and customs in the advertisement to draw people's attention. We put this kind of advertisements in plenty of city centers and famous tourist resorts, in order to increase the exposures of our brand,” Chu Liangjing says, “Until now, we have entered over 80 counties and regions' markets in the five continents. We keep one motto in mind that is to produce high quality product with reasonable price and maintain innovative marketing strategy."
Producing a quality product helps the company develop a leading brand in the highly competitive world of beer. Sun Mingbo is chairman of the Tsingtao Brewery. He says pureness, freshness, and a good taste makes Tsingtao Beer a popular selection in the global market.
"We carried out a consumer investigation and we gained positive feedback. Many of our consumers say they like the special taste of our products. We understand our mission is to create new tastes that are different from the European beer brands. It is not easy since their style is deeply rooted in the overseas consumers' mind."
Tsingtao beer is also taking on one of the premiere countries of beer consumers -- Germany, and its long history of producing outstanding beer. Entering the German market, Tsingtao was priced higher than most domestic German brands, but despite the higher price point, it won over German consumers with its refreshing, light taste. It is priced at around three euro per bottle, three times more than the local brands.
To create a taste that would be widely appreciated by consumers, China's first National Biological Fermentation laboratory was established, to produce a consistent, high quality beer at the Tsingtao Brewery. A large contingency of brewing experts in China gather in the lab and devote themselves to creating one of China's top beers. Yang Mei is head of Scientific Innovation Department of the Tsingtao Brewery. She explains how the lab works.
"We built a yeasts bank by collecting various styles of yeasts from home and abroad. This is the foundation for us to remain competitive in the market and also strengthen our capacity to launch new product in a short period of time. "
Qingdao International Beer Festival [Photo: from VCG]
To further strengthen the brand image and attract new consumers, the Tsingtao Brewery holds the annual Qingdao International Beer Festival -- now in its 27th year. The festival lasts 16 days and involves a number of activities to attract domestic and international visitors. A variety of events are held including live bands, dance performances, beer drinking competitions, acrobatic performances and entertaining games.
A Chinese rock band Black Panther was performing during Qingdao International Beer Festival in 2017. [Photo: from VCG]
The opening ceremony kicks off with the tapping of a giant beer keg and a spectacular fireworks display. A Chinese visitor says that he became a fan of Tsigntao after attending the opening ceremony.
Barth Report in 2012 indicated that Tsingtao Brewery was the sixth-largest brewery worldwide in terms of its productivity. In the standardized liquor industry, Tsingtao Brewery was cited for its achievement in developing a distinct and outstanding product.
The Haier Group Corporation is a global leader in the electronics and home appliances industry. [Photo: from IC]
Another innovative Qingdao company has made great strides in the refrigerator and air conditioner market. And when Chinese people want to buy one of these appliances, they always turn to the Haier Group Corporation, which has established a reputation of producing a high quality and consistently reliable product.
The Haier Group Corporation, headquartered in Qingdao, is a global leader in the electronics and home appliances industry. Nowadays, Haier Group has developed as a multi-national company, successfully entering many overseas markets with well thought out, strategic marketing.
Its marketing prowess was evident in Russia, for example, where it has developed a comprehensive strategy. The Haier Group found that Russians have an eating habit that includes five meals a day. Hence, Russians prefer to buy a refrigerator with huge storage capacity that can fit in a relatively small space. To meet the Russian consumer's needs, The Haier Group developed the specially designed refrigerators to appeal to Russians.
Filatova is a Russian user of Haier's refrigerator and she speaks highly of this product.
"Before I bought Haier refrigerator, I did not know it was very popular in other countries. And then I found that it is a really great product. I am satisfied with it even though I just used it for not too long. I can put a lot of things in it since it is huge."
Haier’s factory [Photo: from IC]
Anna is the sales director of the Russian Haier Group based in the industrial city of Naberezhnye Chelny. She explains why the company has been so successful in overseas markets.
"Haier Group always invents customers-orientated products. We keep doing customer investigation since it first entered Russia in 2010, and we listen to customers. We use our products to convince customers that our products are worthy to buy. "
Over 100,000 refrigerators were sold after Haier Group set up a factory in Russia one year later, which lead to a 40 percent increase in sales that year, whereas the entire industry only witnessed a 2 percent growth.
To maintain sustainable growth in the highly competitive and ever-changing appliance marketplace, The Haier Group established five research centers, 24 manufacturing bases in America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, and working in cooperation with over 1.2 million scientists and engineers worldwide. Through in-depth research, manufacturing and sales at the local level of the countries it serves, The Haier Group has developed into a leader in the appliance industry internationally, maintaining a strong presence in foreign markets.
A customer experience center of Kutesmart in Qingdao. [Photo: from China Daily]
Qingdao's textile manufacturing industry has also devolved into a high-end customized service, thanks to the era of the Internet and advanced technology.
The Qingdao Kutesmart Company is an example in this industry that has successfully transformed itself in the last ten years from a traditional small dressing enterprise that now utilizes new technology. Liu Ana is a manger for the Qingdao Kutesmart Company. She says the use of modern technology allows the company to provide tailor-made services even though the customers are located in foreign countries.
"We receive orders from foreign countries, and we only need customers to provide us with 22 figures about their body. We submit this information in our computing system, and the sketch drawing is automatically formed. Previously, it took one day for our experienced tailors to finish one or two sketch drawings. But now we have this intelligent system, our efficiency has considerably improved. "
Under the support of AI system, although some customers cannot visit the shop since they are outside Qingdao, the company still can provide tailor-made services to them. [Photo: China Daily]
In order to provide sketch drawings as accurate as a tailor, the computing system requires extensive data from about two million customers' -- physical measurements collected from the previous orders. With the support of this massive data base, the computing system is able to automatically calculate precise sketch drawings. Zhang Yulan explains that the AI technology is not going to replace human workers but to improve efficiency.
"It seems that the general public has misunderstanding about modern technology. They are afraid that they will lose their job one day if everything is automated. In fact, until now the technology is not mature yet. To small and medium enterprises, although the technology was advanced, they probably would not be able to afford it. Even though we are using AI technology, our company is still using our previous machines and we are not hiring technicians to substitute our workers. We just use big data and the Internet of Things to transform and update our company."
As a result, the Qingdao Kutesmart Company reduces its cost by 10 percent and doubles its sales, compared to other competitors.
Internet and technology also help Qingdao develop into a smart and livable city, especially in the transport sector. In 2013, Qingdao announced a project that the city is looking to develop for intelligent and safe transportation. In the next year, an intelligent transport system has been installed across the city.
The system, invented by the Qingdao Hisense TransTech Company, uses live video cameras to monitor roads across the city from Traffic Management Centers, sensors to gauge traffic flow and large electronic message boards to provide urgent traffic notices and safety messages to drivers. The message boards inform drivers about traffic congestion by using different colors: red representing congestion and yellow marking locations of slow traffic. Meanwhile, traffic cameras operating at full capacity can catch all traffic violations.
Traffic lights are also getting "smart" and can change based on information collected by traffic flow sensors installed at road intersections, maximizing road traffic efficiency and easing congestion.
Gong Lei is an official from the Qingdao Municipal Public Security Bureau, and he says the new transport systems are useful to traffic police as well.
"As traffic police, we try our best to use technology to save time and ease traffic congestion for drivers and commuters. Thanks to the new platform, not only the general public enjoys more convenient transportation, we also benefit from this intelligent transport system as well. Nowadays, the time for our traffic police from receiving calls to arriving at the accident site decreases from 30 minutes to 8 minutes."
At present, Qingdao successfully reduced traffic peak hours by 30 percent or nearly one-and-a-half hours and increases traffic flow by nearly 29 percent on average by utilizing an intelligent transportation system, and significantly alleviates traffic congestion.
Wang Peng is a manager for Research and Development at Qingdao Hisense TransTech Company, and he says that by creating their own transport system they are less reliant on foreign companies.
"Before we invented our domestic system, we only could use so-called high-end and intelligent transport system made by foreign country, which were very expensive. Our own system is 60 percent cheaper."
The Qingdao Qianwan Container Terminal [Photo: from IC]
Earlier this year, during one morning at the Qingdao Qianwan Container Terminal, not one person was on site as automated transport vehicles operated cargo transshipment. The Qingdao Qianwan Container Terminal is the most advanced and the first actual automated container port in Asia. The entire procedure in this port is unmanned, without a single human operator, and has recorded world-wide record-high of 43 containers transshipped per hour.
Yang Jiemin, vice general manager from the Qingdao Qianwan Container Port Company, says that the merits of the automatic container port are low cost, high efficiency, smarter, safer and low carbon dioxide emission, which makes it easier to promote the business model outside Qingdao.
Yang Jiemin says they are willing to help member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to establish unmanned automatic container port in their country.
"Our port ranked top position in every inspection. We can provide relevant technical support to the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and help them build the safest and the most modern and intelligent container port. India and Pakistan often learn experiences from us. "
The Qingdao Qianwan Container Terminal [Photo: from IC]
Qingdao has successfully upgraded its container port from a traditional transshipment terminal to become a modern transport hub, combining logistics service, information and technology service and a door-door supplier chain. Jiao Guangjun is CEO of the Qingdao Port International Company says the technology considerably improves efficiency.
"Automatic intelligent container port has plenty of advantages than traditional port. The most obvious one is its high efficiency. Automatic port is able to improve 30% of efficiency and save 70% of costs."
Until now, Qingdao has a large number of Internet related projects that are listed in the national pilot program. Among them, seven are intelligent manufacturing programs; four projects are listed in the manufacturing and internet merging pilot program. Under assistance of these programs, Qingdao's internet industry covers over 20 fields, like electronic, furniture, rubber, chemical engineering, textile and new energy. Over 50,000 small and medium enterprises across Qingdao are working toward transforming their companies by adopting high-end technology.