China's time-honored shoemaker Neiliansheng recently announced it will work with Walt Disney Co to launch a new series of shoes that target the younger generation of consumers.
Neiliansheng, which is based in Beijing, said the new series will use double brands, featuring both its own and the Disney logos.
According to the company, Disney will authorize Neiliansheng to use Disney trademarks and cartoon elements in their product design.
Neiliansheng will be responsible for the new series' design, development and sales, and Disney will also participate in design work.
The new series may be available in the Shanghai Disney Resort when it opens in June.
"The Shanghai Disney Resort needs more products to exploit the Chinese market. Neiliansheng wants to speed up its transformation into fashion brands through Disney's rich design elements and extensive user base," Cheng Xu, the assistant general manager of Beijing Neiliansheng Shoes, told local Chinese media.
"The crossover cooperation between Neiliansheng and Disney is an encounter between Oriental classics and Western culture, from which brilliant designs should come."
The long-awaited Shanghai Disney Park, which will be the first on the Chinese mainland, is scheduled to open on June 16. The $5.5 billion theme park is a joint development by Disney and the State-owned Shanghai Shendi Group.
Neiliansheng was founded in 1853 as a specialist brand making boots and cloth shoes for high-ranking officials. The name means that people who wear the company's shoes can be promoted quickly.
With changing times, the brand, like many other Chinese traditional brands, has faced the challenges of an aging brand and a lack of innovation.
In recent years, the company has made a series of efforts to accelerate its transformation to adapt to the market and meet the needs of a variety of consumers.
"In the traditional view, Neiliansheng only makes and sells shoes for old people," said Cheng Laixiang, the company's general manager. "Now we want to make a change through publicity and products shows."
He said the company's current focus is to become more fashionable, and change its current products structure and brand image.
The partnership between Neiliansheng and Disney is creative but risky, because of the huge cultural difference between the two, said Xue Shengwen, a senior researcher at CIConsulting, an industry research firm in Beijing.
"The success of their cooperation depends on their resource complementarity," Xue said. He suggested that the shoemaker develop new products that meet the demands of the young generation while maintaining its own characteristics, and expand its sales channels via the Internet.
The company has launched a new Shanglu brand targeting young consumers. Its products are being sold on online platforms such as JD.com and Tmall.
So far, two-thirds of the company's clients are middle aged and elderly people, while one-third are young buyers. The company hopes to reverse the proportions in the next few years.
(China Daily 01/20/2016 page17)