Gourd for you: Fresh launches collaboration with M Stand

In early June, LVMH-owned high-end beauty and fragrance brand Fresh launched a collaboration with Chinese boutique coffee chain M Stand. To celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival, the two brands came together with an exclusive kombucha sparkling Americano. This is also to promote Fresh’s bestselling ‘Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence’.

The heart of the Fresh x M Stand collaboration is the neon-coloured calabash, or bottle gourd motif. Not only are the paper cups for the co-branded Americano covered in a purple-orange-pink neon with a black calabash silhouette, but four porcelain teacups in the corresponding colours are also available through prize draws. The top handle on each lid is shaped like calabash gourds, furthering the theme. Calabash, called “hulu” (葫芦, and yes the streaming platform partly takes its name after the gourd) represents auspicious meanings, because the word sounds similar to “福禄” (fulu, luck and riches) in Mandarin and sounds the same in other dialects. The four colours symbolise fortune, career, affection and personality, according to M Stand.

The colours correspond to the packaging of the Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence. A bottle of the product will be given away to the most liked post-writer in the WeChat comment section. Two pop-up locations at M Stand branches in Shanghai and Chongqing will be available to visit and “check-in” between 7-21 June. On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform a hashtag was launched called “a bottle (gourd) of light” (#一葫灵光#). It plays on the fact that pots are called “壶”, “hu”, the same as the first character in “hulu”. The hashtag received a moderate 164,000 views, compared to the main topic about the facial treatment essence, which received 14.79 million views on Weibo.

This is also an example of an international brand trying to leverage “xuanxue”, a trend that combines the occult, superstition and social fun, comparable to astrology, but with a traditional Chinese culture twist. M Stand’s muyu (wooden fish) was already a popular example of xuanxue marketing. Founded in 2017, M Stand has 350 directly operated locations in China and received financing from the likes of Xiaohongshu (RED) last year. It is interesting to see international brands collaborating with local niche cool brands like boutique coffee shops for a more authentic “guochao” effort.


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