CategoryC03. Illustration
Entrant Company LANDOR HONG KONG Hong Kong, HONG KONG
Advertising Agency LANDOR HONG KONG Hong Kong, HONG KONG

Brief Explanation

Faced with increasing competition, market share erosion and the fast adoption of digital over physical formats, and with over 43,000 players the stationery category in China, the market had become fragmented and homogenized. To be differentiated and win in this crowded space, M&G would needed a fresh solution. A solution that would leverage their huge retail footprint to engage a younger Chinese audience hungry for self expression.

The Brief

M&G is the No. 1 stationery brand in China market with a network of 20,000 stores. It has made a miracle of an annual double-digit growth since the establishment in 1997. Its products range from writing instruments such as gel pens, ballpoint pens, mechanical pencils and highlighters to other stationery items such as school bags, pencil cases, rulers, erasers and notebooks, targeting students from primary and middle schools across the whole country.

How the final design was conceived

We used an ethnographic approach to understand our target customers and found a strong need for self expression. Probably the first generation to embrace individualism in China’s thousand-years’ collective tradition, and a rich territory for M&G to associate itself with. So instead of creating an experience FOR the people, M&G created something WITH the people. Holding multiple workshops with members of target groups to co-create a fun, dynamic expression that connected the audience directly to the brand and to the idea of self expression.

Indication of how successful the outcome was in the market

The process created a store experience and visual system of illustrations and typography truly designed FOR the people BY the people, and one that can continuously evolve and change through regular input and engagement from the customer. The workshops, first test store, and new visual system launched in December 2014 were a resounding success, returning a huge % increase in revenue per square mete–enough to convince M&G to roll out the entire concept at the rapid rate of 10 stores a month in 2015, ultimately aiming to achieve a 500 store network by 2017.


Name Company Position
David Mineyama-Smithson Landor Executive Creative Director
Fisher Yu Landor Seniour Stratergist
Jessica Tang Landor Designer
Jacky Zhai Landor Seniour Designer
Doris Ho Landor Managing Director
Xiadong Li Landor Designer