From Tradition To Trend: Revolutionising Herbal Drinks With Heng Foh Tong

Heng Foh Tong envisioned to captivate the younger generation by offering ready-to-drink herbal beverages that are shelf-stable, healthy, lower in sugar, and convenient.

Published on 30 Apr 2024

Traditional herbal drinks have always been popular among older individuals and are usually considered an acquired taste. Heng Foh Tong, a traditional Chinese Medicine Hall that has been around since 1957, wanted to tap into the growing trend of bubble teas in the market and the increasing interest in plant-based teas focusing on health, to attract a younger customer base.


To appeal to younger generations and working adults, Heng Foh Tong sought the assistance of Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) and collaborated with various schools to pioneer an innovative approach in traditional herbal drinks.

  • The School of Business Management (SBM) conducted a market study to strategically position the herbal drink as a daily consumption choice for millennials. 
  • The School of Design and Media (SDM) gave the drink a new and trendy image. By seamlessly incorporating elements of the existing label design, the repackaged drink retains the product’s branding while presenting it as a ‘modern lifestyle choice’ to resonate with the younger generation and working adults.
  • With the expertise of the School of Applied Science (SAS) in product formulation, shelf-life study, and food manufacturing, the project team helped Heng Foh Tong lower the sugar level of their product, enhance processes to provide longer shelf life, and prepare their products for mass production.


The owner for Heng Foh Tong, who prefers to be known as Mr. Lee, was also determined to extend his customer base beyond the small and quiet heartlands. He approached NYP once more to take on a revolutionary project that would change the customer experience in purchasing traditional herbal drinks.  


With a collaboration between SDM and Heng Foh Tong, the first Interactive Vending Machine Kiosk

for authentic Traditional Chinese Herbal Drinks is introduced in Singapore.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the link between emotions and physical health operates in a dynamic loop, where emotional well-being significantly influences the body's health, and vice versa. This interplay is further nuanced by environmental factors, such as weather conditions (hot, cold, dry, etc.) which serve as determinants for the flow of energy.

With advice and support from lecturers Tommy Quek and Madhan S/O Kaliappan, the student project team in SDM - Yang Xinyue, Tan Xin Wei, and Tan Kai Jun - developed a futuristic vending machine that provided a human-like shopping experience.


It offers animated personnel recommendation based on age, emotion and current weather. The machine caters to specific contexts, suggesting herbal drink for hazy weather or considering exam seasons in tertiary institutions. The animated personnel dynamically interact with customers, following their movements, and the vending machine incorporates crowd monitoring for gaming options.


This innovation significantly enhances the customer experience, making traditional Chinese herbal products more accessible and convenient. The interactive features not only attract a diverse customer base, particularly the younger demographic but also emphasise the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Aligning with Heng Foh Tong's mission, this project promotes the insight of natural enhancement, ensuring its availability to a broader audience.


Mr. Lee himself expressed his thoughts on the power of NYP360. “This collaboration has been truly transformative for our business. NYP's innovative solutions, ranging from customer insights and shelf-life stability to product launch strategies and modern bottle design, have played a pivotal role in revitalising our herbal drinks and appealing to the youth market."


"Additionally, the development of this one-of-a-kind vending machine has added to the brand value of Heng Foh Tong. The features incorporated in the kiosk set new standards with no past reference. Tommy and his groups of students are driven and pro-active in their efforts to launch the project and the team’s exceptional creativity and resourcefulness have been instrumental in this remarkable journey.”


This project boosts the expertise of our staff in advanced technologies and project management and provided NYP students with invaluable hands-on experience in cutting-edge technologies, enhancing their employability and readiness for the industry. The initiative fostered a culture of knowledge sharing, nurtured creative thinking among students, and contributed to elevating NYP's brand value and capability in customer experience innovation.


This project is also an Indigo Design Award Winner in 2023 under the Student's category, winning 4 Golds and 1 silver. Congratulations to the team!