YouMingTang  / God of Prosperity Chain Stores   

Year : 2011    

Client : Quijang Cultural Tourism Group, Xi'an

Team : Design and Strategy teams / Stony Ltd. Consulting

Role : Project management, Timeline management, Chain store business model design, Product concept development, Product quality supervision, Customer management.

YouMingTang is a chain of stores that sells souvenirs related to the God of Prosperity. Aiming to inject life into the sales of travel souvenirs in China, our design team built on the esteem in which the God of Prosperity is held by Chinese communities to create the YouMingTang brand. This included the building of a corporate image; designing cultural-creative products themed on the God of Prosperity; and planning the first store, to be set up in the God of Prosperity Temple Park in Xi’an.

 


 
 

 

CHALLENGE

No time for mistakes

God of Prosperity Temple Park in Xi’an is built by Quijang cultural tourism group, one of the largest tourism group in China. In 2010, the company started to plan to establish a new souvenir chain store inside the park, and my company, Stony Ltd. Consulting in Taiwan, was responsible for creating this new brand from scratch, including corporate identity system, product design and interior design. The project officially began from 2011 Jan, but my team only had 6 months to develop the design and finish the product manufacturing and interior construction. As a project manager, the strict time limitation challenged my team to work efficiently and use our full potential for the best design.

Besides time challenge, our client was seeking innovation to break old convention of  Chinese tourism industry image. Even though the industry is proliferating in a exponential speed, and the tourists are looking for high quality travel experience and souvenir to buy, but souvenir stores fail to meet the market needs. 

So, our design challenge was, how to remotely create a better tourist experience for the new souvenir chain store by using design thinking and distinguish the brand from local stores ?

How we tackled the challenges:

1. Research

 (Secondary research - Primary research - Contextual interview/ site visit/)

2. Strategy

3. Design Concept

( Product design, Store interior design, Product portfolio planning, )

4. Presentation with client

6. Refine Design

7. Implementation  (product manufacturing, interior construction)

8. Project Report

Quijang cultural tourism group logo

 

God of Prosperity Temple Park

 

FINDINGS 

2 client meetings, 6 site visitings, 72 hours observation

Visiting Xi’an - what were the problems?

1. No customer differentiation, low-price and mass-duplicated products cannibalized sales

In five days, my team traveled the main merchant areas and tourist attractions in the city. The most famous and must-see attraction was the Terracotta Army, and every store was selling the same duplicate Terracotta warriors and horses. Because of its mass production and identical design, tourists had the power in bargaining the price, which resulted in increasingly competition and the local vender could only earn small margins. From the tourists perspective, limited product diversity decreased their shopping interests and resulted in a mediocre shopping experience. Examples similar to Terracota Army were everywhere in Xi’an. Souvenirs usually were mass-replicated from the famous local art or cultural symbol, and being sold cheaply on the street.

2. Aesthetic, but lack of functionality

The motivation of buying a souvenir is different from buying a normal product. Tourists are looking for souvenirs representing the local culture and traveling experience, but they are also seeking products with aesthetic and functionality. According to our observations, almost 90% of the souvenirs in Xi’an are only bearing aesthetic feature, but lack functionality. For example, the most common souvenirs were different sizes of sculptures and paintings. For tourists who don’t fully understand the art, the souvenirs don’t connect with their lives.

3. Traditional and old brand image

The interior design of most souvenir stores in Xi’an followed the traditional Chinese architecture style, so they couldn’t provide travelers with new brand images.

the center of Xi'an city

Xi'an craft worker - Terra-cotta Warriors 

Local souvenir venders


 

DESIGN SOLUTION

Product Design & Planning

1.Create a diverse set of product with cultural meaning
After a lot of brainstorming, my team and I collaboratively generated about 100 product concepts and selected 40 concepts with good potential. We used ancient Chinese symbols like coins, golden brick, black tiger, coin patterns as inspirations, and aimed to transform the old symbols to the objects in modern living environments, in order to balance tradition and modern.

2.Price differentiation : low, middle, high
I and another colleague divided the 40 products into low, middle and high class/cost product in order to provide customers with more options suited their budgets. 12 products were low class/cost product, and only 3 products were high class/cost product, so my team created 25 middle class/cost products in total. 

3. target group differentiation: business traveler, local traveler, international traveler
We separated customers into 3 groups according to our research: business traveler, local traveler and international traveler. The business travelers are willing to spend more money on souvenir shopping and value functionality, so we designed middle to high cost  product for them, such as USB drive bracelet and tea cups. Local travelers are willing to spend less money, but they could be frequent visitors and like more Chinese traditional style products. Black tiger book marker, and cartoon figured god of prosperity are the best product for them. International travelers are looking for high quality products, so middle to high cost products are also for them.
 

Product sample


Interior design

1. Select store location based on psychological & emotional factors 

After the several site visitings and research, the interior design team selected to put the new store at the exit of the God of Prosperity Temple Park in order to attract customers attention and the right moment . After travelers had fun whole day in the park and about to go home, their purchasing desire reach the highest, because they just saw tons of things and want to collect their memories and bring them home. At this moment, they also think about what to purchase for friends and families.

2. Brave interior design balances modern and tradition

Our design team used white as the main color to govern the whole store environment, which had  the modern aesthetic, and was considered bold and trendy in Xi’an. The decoration elements on the wall in the store were borrowed from traditional Chinese architecture adornments.

 

Corporate identity system

The logo of You Ming Tang is the face of God of prosperity. The CIS widely applied ancient coins pattern to paper bag, envelope, flags, signs, and even interior design’s decoration. White and gold are the two main colors that reflect the brand identity - prosperity, because gold represented wealthy in Chinese culture, and white brought brightness and fascinate feeling to the brand. This consistent use of CIS made sure the new brand present an identical looks and feels in every chain store.