Having now developed in to a large pharmaceutical conglomerate, Beijing Tongrentang is undoubtedly a time-honored brand, known to every Chinese household. It is one of the world’s largest producers of traditional Chinese medicine. With a bit of exaggeration, Tongrentang’s sign board is nothing short of the emblem of traditional Chinese medicine – today, as Chinese medicine is going worldwide, Tongrentang is also going global, opening drugstores overseas.
Tongrentang’s sign board is little short of the emblem of traditional Chinese medicine.
Tongrentang was founded in 1669. In 1723, it won a royal supply contract, and remained the sole designated medicines supplier to the Qing court until the collapse of Qing Dynasty (1911). In the years of Tongrentang prime, a custom was followed that the biannual herbal medicines trade fair could not be declared open until Tongrentang’s purchasers showed up.
To learn about the history of Tongrentang is to have an interesting glance at China’s traditional commercial culture – how a business would usually be started and run by a big family complex, what social and commercial environment it would face, how it would deal with social and political chages and steer through harsh times and crisis, etc.
"Technical know-how" was the largest contributing factor to Tongrentang’s business success – it has a number of secret drug recipes handed down the generations. The marketing and promotion efforts of Tongrentang managers were ingenious, too. However, aside from these, its business philosophy also plays a key role in guaranteeing the high quality of its service. The pharmacy has earned a solid business reputation with its services indiscriminating to customers of any social stratum. Its ancestral doctrine reads: “No matter how complex the production procedures are, and no matter how expensive the materials are, Tongrentang should produce medicines in strict accordance with the prescription.”
Tongrentang in popular culture. An old brand name is often the carrier of much cultural and historical changes. A couple of TV drama series have been shot to recount the history of Tongrentang.
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