Modern ice pop: hallmark of Harbin
27 September 2012
Simple store design.
What makes a small ice pop the hallmark of a city? First, Modern was established in Harbin more than a century ago in 1906 by a Jew named Caspe who migrated there from Europe. The name Modern (or Madieer in Russian) has remained unchanged throughout its entire history, from the Qing Dynasty to the present day. Modern Cold Drinks is one of the oldest companies of its kind on the mainland.
What makes Modern capable of withstanding the test of time? We can examine this from its distinctive trait and marketing strategy in the past century.
Tasty but not too sweet, no wrapper
1. Taste: "Tasty but not too sweet and melts in the mouth" is the distinctive trait of Modern ice pop.
2. Packaging: Unlike other brands of ice pop, Modern insists on not having any fancy wrapping to keep the texture of the product intact.
Business mode based on sincerity
1. Putting quality first:
Quality is no doubt the cornerstone of a company. Modern ice pop has enjoyed lasting fame because it has always put quality first and followed its traditional manufacturing procedures in the past century. It insists on not using any additives and its ratio of hardener (milk, eggs etc) is far lower than other famous ice cream brands. Refusal to use leavening agents also pushes up costs. In Harbin, the retail price of Modern ice pop is Rmb2 as opposed to about Rmb1 for other domestic brands.
"The taste has not changed a bit since my childhood days," said Mr Zhang, a 60-year-old local resident, with pride when talking about Modern ice pop. His words sum up the company's attention to quality throughout its history.
2. Insistence on not using wrappers:
Anyone who has been to Modern Cold Drinks on Central Street knows that its ice pops are arranged neatly on a simple tray and sold at the entrance of Modern Hotel's bakery every day, giving people the impression that they are "freshly made". There are no fancy counters at the shop, no loud cries to attract customers and no promotional billboards, not even paper or plastic wrappers. The products are sold "naked" to customers. It is this century-old style of simplicity and disdain for lavishness that wins over the hearts of consumers.
3. Sold all year round:
What makes Modern really proud is that there are people queuing up for its ice pops regardless of whether it is stinking hot or in sub-zero temperatures. People holding an ice pop in hand in front of Modern Cold Drinks has very much become part of the standard Central Street scene. Modern Cold Drinks sells over 10,000 ice pops daily.
Why is it that sales of ice pops do not drop in the cold winter? According to local residents, it is quite warm indoors in Harbin because of central heating even when it is freezing cold outside. With this "coexistence of ice and fire", it is not surprising to see people licking ice pops in cold winters. In fact, Modern is not just about ice pop, it is a kind of culture, the Harbin culture.
4. Opening up new market with traditional quality:
Modern ice pop has a history of over a century. It was only sold in just a few Modern food outlets in Harbin in the past to ensure consistency of good quality.
The company has opened three Modern stores in Dalian since 2010. The people of Dalian can now enjoy Harbin's ice pop culture without going to the city.
In Dalian, Modern ice pops are sold at Rmb4 each, Rmb2 more expensive than in Harbin. According to the staff of one of the Dalian stores, all Modern ice pops sold in Dalian are flown in from Harbin. Sales are going strong at all three Dalian stores although the price is double that of Harbin. Visitors to Roosevelt Tianxing International Shopping Centre and Peace Plaza in the city and Ansheng Shopping Mall in the Dalian Development Area will know where to buy Modern ice pop just by finding the long queues without having to ask around. The scene is just as bustling as at Modern's main store on Central Street.
from Nancy Liu, Dalian Office
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