Uygurs learn what's in a name
Updated: 2014-04-22 08:42
By Cui Jia and Gao Bo (China Daily)
"Branding is something businessmen from ethnic groups are not good at because their customer base is relatively narrow and many only target their own ethnic group. The main challenge they face is how to promote their products and brands to a wider audience," she said.
In 2013, the Xinjiang government honored 32 trademarks as famous local brands, but only one of them was a Uygur-owned business. The local administration has now taken steps to remedy the problem.
"We have ordered the authorities at all levels to provide assistance to local businesses, so more ethnic brands can develop and become popular. If the government officially recognizes a brand as 'famous', the company is given 20,000 yuan as a reward," Chen added, noting that although Xinjiang has 418 "famous" trademarks, only 33 are ethnic brands.
One of the most successful ethnic brands is Aniwar's former employer, Arman Muslim Foods Industrial Group, which was started by two brothers in Urumqi in 1995. Arman, which means "hope" in Uygur, now exports goods to more than 25 countries, with 10 percent of the products going to countries in Central Asia and the Middle East.
The group - which has annual sales of 100 million yuan - includes 10 companies and a chain of 2,400 supermarkets in Xinjiang, many of them in remote villages.
One of the brothers, Redil Abudula, said he's been called "crazy" many times since he started the business: "My friends said I was insane when I started the Arman supermarket chain in 1997, and again, in 1998, when I tried to develop my own nutritional powders using Xinjiang-grown chickpeas and walnuts," said the graduate of East China Normal University in Shanghai.
Abulajan, the baker, also has long-term ambitions to reach out to the international market. As a stepping stone, he plans to open Abula's Naan shops in every major Chinese city and the country's 2,500 counties within five years.
"I believe that as long as my naan tastes good, people outside Xinjiang will love it too. And if that's the case, there will be more opportunities than problems," he said.
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