In recent months, small businesses in Shanghai have suffered heavy losses, especially those in the food, beverage and catering sectors.
Almost all catering businesses in China are struggling due to catering restrictions, lack of financial support, higher supply chain costs and higher commissions from food delivery platforms.
In June, We Are Social launched a small business grant program called Saving Shanghai Shops (SSS Project) as the city began to lift the strict three-month lockdown to fight the pandemic. He first selected three lucky stores: Japanese restaurant Yuu Yakiniku & Sake Bar, desert soup shop Po Lam Tong Sui Po, and local cafe Table Ruby.
Specialized in brand storytelling and influencer marketing, the agency offers its full range of free media services, including market analysis, target audience analysis, strategic marketing planning, online and offline campaign design, and KOL planning and management . Although the campaigns for the three stores have not yet launched and will soon, some preview content has already generated buzz and traffic on social networks.
Country spoke with Pete Lin, We Are Social CEO for North Asia, about the program:
Why We Are Social launched this grant plan? How long will it last?
Coming out of Shanghai’s lockdown, we were heartbroken to see so many small local businesses had been destroyed. It was even more distressing to see that those who still survive may not survive much longer.
As residents in love with the city, our colleagues in the Shanghai office wanted to help the city heal. We don’t really have the skills to help improve macroeconomic conditions, but we do have the ability to help individual businesses, large and small. We knew that small businesses wouldn’t normally be able to afford our services, so we figured if we picked three and helped them out for free (and also paid for some KOL collabs and some media out of our own pockets), then it would be a valuable contribution to the city.
It’s an experience for us. We therefore hope to see the results of our efforts within two months. After that, we will assess our impact on the community and decide if we would keep it as a permanent program.
How did you select the three restaurants? A standard ?
We wanted to select companies with different offers and needs. So we chose a Yakiniku (Japanese sake bar), a cafe (Table Ruby) and a dessert shop (Po Lam). There were no particular standards we required – we just wanted to choose independent stores that bring joy to communities in Shanghai.
How are you going to help these restaurants?
We’ll offer them our full suite of marketing services – from market research, social listening, audience profiling, strategy formulation, to creative planning and execution, to identifying and influencer management, media planning and buying. Each selected company is allocated a modest but sufficient media budget, so that our ideas can be effectively amplified.
Did you and your team have any difficulties because of the grant scheme?
Traders are not used to working with agencies, so we had some difficulty planning and getting them to understand the importance of giving us full details of their business.
How about some specific plans? Please share an example.
Po Lam has a heartwarming story and is a great example of an entrepreneur trying to achieve his dreams. For us, Po Lam is an authentic way for Shanghai residents to experience Hong Kong culture without traveling to Hong Kong. So, our team is currently planning an in-store Hong Kong Culture Festival to give people a reason to visit Po Lam, as well as generate buzz for its desserts.
The three lucky shops
Po Lam Tong Sui Po: Mark, the owner and founder of this shop, gave up his job in banking and learned Tong Sui (local Hong Kong sweet soup) cooking techniques from his father. He then moved from Hong Kong to Shanghai and founded Po Lam in 2019 as a Hong Kong-style sweet soup shop. Before the Covid outbreak in China, it quickly became Shanghai’s first dessert store and opened a second store in 2020.
The first store was closed during the pandemic, but the second survived thanks to the warm support of loyal customers and neighboring communities in Shanghai. While its owner planned to open a third store this spring, a sudden three-month lockdown in China’s largest city halted his business expansion plan and forced him to drop all investments for the new one. store. Po Lam’s only surviving store is now downtown, Xujiahui.
Table Ruby: a café owned by Litchi and Xiaotang, which combines contemporary arts and coffee culture. The co-founders are creating this new coffee brand and hope to provide customers with a whole new experience.
Yuu Yakiniku & Sake Bar: is a Japanese restaurant, like “Midnight Diner” in Shanghai, opened five years ago. The owner, Lin Xiaomu, has had a hard time due to the lockdown, but he is still quite optimistic and thinks that running a business at such a time means “being-toward-death”, an attitude of life wisdom. .