CGTN met with five sets of locals who have their own unique emotional connection with these brands. Here are their stories.
When Qiu Jinfeng was still in elementary school, his family bought a Hisense television. Such luxuries were rare at the time and neighbors and friends would come over for some communal viewing. Even today, Qiu remembers how his aunt would put a cover over the TV once it had been turned off the day, careful to protect this valuable object.
Ever since, Qiu has owned televisions produced by this local brand, previously known as Qingdao TV.
In Zang Xueyuan’s family, Doublestar sneakers are worn by three generations. Back when she was in school, all the kids used to wear them – they were as fashionable in Qingdao then, as Nike or Adidas sneakers are popular in China now. But while trends move on, Zang has remained faithful to Doublestar: not only does she still wear their sneakers, she also buys them for her daughter – who may otherwise be more tempted by the cool foreign-branded treads other kids her age wear – as well as her own mother. “They’re really really comfortable,” she insists. In an amusing twist, the sneakers’ popularity has now come full circle: with their retro-chic look, Doublestar models have become a big hit with youngsters and online celebrities.
Perhaps the best known Qingdao brand abroad is Tsingtao Beer – the difference in spelling goes back to the brewery’s establishment in 1903, when Chinese characters were transcribed using a different system than today.
J.D. and Charla Esser are both adoptive Qingdaonese. But for these two expats, who perform regularly in local community bars, Tsingtao is more than just a beer: it represents the culture of the city and the friends they have met here.
As J.D. puts it, a passion for travel and a desire to learn Chinese brought him to Qingdao, but what kept him here was “good people, good places, good culture… and good beer!”
Besides beer, Qingdao is also known for its delicious seafood and here too, top-of-the-line appliances can come in handy. Yu Xianjiang swears by his local Aucma freezers, which allow him to buy fresh fish and seafood when prices are low, and have enough stocked up at home for a tasty meal whenever he feels like it. He has even gone so far as to buy freezers from this local brand for his father and brothers.
But it wasn’t so long ago that even fridges were rare in China and for this, Qingdao residents favor another local brand: Haier. Mr. Cheng is now middle-aged but as a young man, he bought his family the very first model the company ever produced. Even now, his home is full of Haier appliances, including the stove and ventilator in the kitchen.
And so it is for many Qingdao residents, according to Qiu Jinfeng. Enter a local home and chances are the TV will be Hisense, the freezer will be Aucma and the fridge and air-conditioner will be Haier. The fact that these have become top brands in China – and farther afield – helps to explain this. But more than a little local pride is also involved.
(Produced by: Yang Xinmeng, Zhang Wanbao, and Sim Sim Wissgott)