Who Killed Made in China?
Made in China is more than just a label, it is a brand. At least that is the reasoning behind the article below, translated out of Modern Weekly.
If it is a brand, like the article claims, it is one that has been under constant attack the last half year or so. The real question is, do you believe in Made in China?
ps – This post might not appeal to everyone out there – but as this is the 250th post here, you might want to know the significance of the number 250 in China.
Who Killed Made in China?
In the hearts and minds of international consumers, “Made in China” has always meant good products at a low cost. Though “Made in China” is the most valuable brand in China, it has recently fallen into a pit of quality problems – forcing “Made in China” to quickly remake its image.
“Made in China” is once again caught in a storm. Dangerous pet food, toothpaste, tires, and cars – since the beginning of spring it seems like every week there has bee another quality issue with “Made in China” products.
Stirred up by America and Europe, the furor surrounding problem products from China has extended to India, New Zealand, Brazil, and other countries. In the middle of July, the Philippines revealed that some of China’s “White Rabbit” candy contained formaldehyde, and the same month India declared that China was producing supplements, medicine, and cosmetics that contained harmful chemical ingredients; India even wanted to completely stop such imports from China. The low quality stigma has spread to foods, other toys, and many other kinds of products made in China. India also began to question the reliability of Chinese made electric facilities.
Not Made in China
If you look at “Made in China” as a brand, then this “Made in China” brand is now suffering a huge amount of damage. In fact, some businesses in America have begun to use “Not Made in China” as an important selling point to attract customers as people’s worries over food safety increase.
The question that needs to be asked is who killed “Made in China”?
Hu Cheng Ceng divides the reports of Chinese product & food safety into three types: The first are specific factual cases. The second are relatively objective and moderate analysis. The third are a deliberate smear campaign against “Made in China”. Some reports say things like “in mainland China hormones in fast food have caused six year old boys to grow facial hair and seven year old girls to mature earlier than usual”; some even call for “products to have ‘NOT Made in China’ labels”.
The Chinese government is also carrying out an emergency response to the damage from outside sources. Gao Hu Cheng expressed that “The recent outcry is a repeat of trade protectionism, and another form of’ ‘The China Threat'”.
Believe in China, Believe in Made in China
On August 19th, the director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China, Li Chang Jiang, made the following declaration of support for “Made in China” products on CCTV’s economy channel: “Believe in China, believe in Made in China.”. Li Chang Jiang even sited a series of statistics to show that the quality of exports from China has been rising steadily: “From 2004 through the first half of this year, 99% of Chinese food exports to America have met quality standards, and 99.8% of food exports to Europe and Japan have met quality standards.”
But these hard numbers can’t prevent the “Made in China” brand from continuing to slip. Why not?
Even though Director Li points out that only 1% of the products have quality problems, the damage that 1% can cause is a huge danger to the Made in China “brand”.
In the past, people believed that a good brand was the same thing as high quality products and service. Now, more and more people are realizing that a brand is not just a kind of product, but instead a type of “relationship” with the customer.
Put another way, just like any company brand, “Made in China” has to follow certain rules of the game: A real brand must both focus on it’s “hard power”, products & service that one can see, and “soft power”, emotion, impressions and other intangibles.
Over the past 30 years, “Made in China” has seen an obvious improvement in its hard power, but has not taken a revolutionary step forward in its soft power.
Moving on From Low Priced
The first thing that China has failed to do is move away from its “low priced” image. When you say “Made in China”, many people think of “low priced” products. This does serious damage to Made in China’s image. When we look at the history of industrialized countries we discover that this situation isn’t peculiar to China, in fact it is a reality that virtually all industrializing countries must face. The most successful example of this is our close neighbor Japan. Before World War II and during the initial period after it, “Made in Japan” was a symbol of low quality products and was ridiculed, but has gone on to represent very high quality goods.
According to the “godfather of global pricing strategy”, Tom Nagle, the biggest challenge facing Chinese manufacturers is how to go from selling low cost goods to selling “value”. He even gave specific advice on how to make this leap: ” Chinese companies that want to increase their profit in this new era need to understand the non-price related benefits to consumers, design strategies to provide these benefits, and think about how to creatively set prices rather than just relying on costs and profits.”
What are the emotions associated with “Made in China”?
The second thing that China has failed to do is properly consider the emotions that surround “Made in China”. Almost all companies understand a fundamental truth to creating strong brands: Brands are not created based simply on sales numbers, but come from a set of feelings consumers have. As a famous brand spokesman once said “We don’t sell steaks, we sell the sizzle”. The reason why “poison toothpaste, lead filled toys, dangerous tires”, and “dangerous drinking water” present such danger to “Made in China” is because of the feeling of fear and even terror they inspire in consumers. If these words accompany “Made in China”, this brand will die.
The numbers show that in 2006, $2.88 trillion in “Made in China” goods were shipped to America. How much of a good image did we shipped to America, though?
But changes are already under way. The Chinese government and Chinese companies are all furiously at work to announce new changes, establish new specialized inspection organizations and bureaus, and are even hiring globally renowned public relations firms to recreate the image of “Made in China”. CCTV’s economy channel is also showing a series entitled Believe in Made in China [ã€Šç›¸ä¿¡ä¸å›½åˆ¶é€ ã€‹].
Every time I see the symbol “Made in China”, I think of the back of Apple’s iPod, which says “Designed by Apple in California, Assembled in China”. There is a huge gulf between these two brands, which should serve as a wake up call to “Made in China”.