Beijng Tong Ren Tang: Centuries of Tradition Meets Modern Methods
For the uninitiated, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) conjures up an old-timey image of a dusty shop with wooden floorboards, and walls lined with shelf after shelf of strange and exotic botanicals in glass jars, coupled with herbal smells that inevitably emanate from within.
But for brands like Beijing Tong Ren Tang, adapting to, and changing with the times is all part and parcel of building one of the oldest TCM brands in the world. Indeed, the brand was founded in 1669 in China, and supplied herbal medicines to pharmacies during the Qing Dynasty. Staying in business for over 350 years certainly means that the brand has had to reinvent itself to appeal to a more contemporary clientele.
In Singapore, the brand began in 2003 when Beijing Tong Ren Tang entered into a joint venture with Singapore-based Science Arts Co Pte Ltd to launch the brand here and provide TCM services and promote the use of traditional herbs to treat a variety of conditions. Mr Tan Lee Huak, Vice President of the joint venture company, Beijing Tong Ren Tang Science Arts Singapore Co. Pte Ltd, said that the brand is constantly working on expanding its presence throughout Asia and has its sights set on global expansion (they even have a retail store as far away as Sweden and provide cupping therapy and tuina in Dubai!).
In particular, they are interested in appealing to the younger generation who understandably might perceive TCM as something more suitable for their grandparents. These days, at least a third of the brand’s customers in Singapore are under 40. There is certainly an increasing awareness and appeal to a younger segment of the market, and the brand is constantly seeking to stay relevant to the huge potential of this segment.
In 2020, China Daily reported that the brand has even opened fusion cafes in Beijing that serve modern, western-style coffee, complete with latte art, and other drinks such as milk tea. These cafes also retail traditional herbs such as Chinese wolfberry, cubilose and ginseng. Meanwhile, on the second floor, there are TCM diagnosis and treatment areas as well. According to the report, the cafes seem to be quite popular with youths.
The brand also taps into technology to help them to better understand what customers want. In July of this year, Asia Times reported on Beijing Tong Ren Tang’s use of artificial intelligence AI to analyse data from individual customer interactions and develop products specific to each customer.
Mr Tan also mentioned that the brand tries to raise awareness of the efficacy of TCM and its treatments through the posting of various recipes, exercises and product introductions on their social media platforms. This helps them to continue engaging existing customers while also introducing their offerings to potential customers.
Above all else, it is the brand’s motto that guides their way of work – ‘No manpower shall be spared, no matter how complicated the procedures of production are, no material shall be reduced, no matter how much the cost is.’.
This approach produces an attention to detail and quality that ensures that the brand’s products are renowned for their potency. Back in China, the brand has produced over 1,200 new products and has 95 health food certificates, in addition to planting up to 1,900 hectares of raw material to ensure that the production of primary ingredients is closely controlled from the start.
From this process, Mr Tan highlighted key products such as Baifeng pills that regulate qi and menstrual cycles, Da Huo Luo Dan, used to dispel wind and remove dampness, and Sporoderm-Broken Ganoderma Lucidum Spores Powder Capsules that boost immunity and promote better sleep.
Younger customers may also face conditions that require more privacy such as fertility issues. The brand takes care to be more discreet when addressing this issue when planning their marketing efforts. Their physicians also focus more on patients’ physique or perhaps menstrual processes to help patients understand more about the importance of physical health.
To further spread its message and enhance its brand perception, you can now find Beijing Tong Ren Tang on platforms such as Food Panda, where there is a range of food supplements and medications, as well as some interesting ready-to-eat and dried foods such as Four Deities Soup, Eight Treasures Soup, Monk fruit, Wolfberry and Chinese Yam. Various products are also showcased on the website of Beijing Tong Ren Tang Singapore (www.tongrentang.com.sg). This allows the brand to cater to more digital customer segments and establish new opportunities.
From serving dynastic emperors in China to the use of AI and e-commerce platforms, Beijing Tong Ren Tang has come a long way in its 350 year history. Boasting stores around the world, with plans to further expand, the brand looks set to continue promoting the benefits and potency of various ingredients and herbs that the Chinese have known about for centuries. It has strengthened its brand perception not just in Singapore, but also in non-traditional markets such as in Europe.
When it comes to TCM, you will no longer see settings so typical of an archaic apothecarist. You will instead be met with modern methods that embrace big data to connect with you against a more futuristic backdrop, giving you the confidence in the quality of the superior brand that is Beijing Tong Ren Tang.