“Oh…is that Chinese”? That is a question you’ve probably heard asked in relation to certain product or piece of merchandise. The general consensus is that when something is ‘Made in China’ it is going to be rubbish.
We all know that it’s not because they lack the technology or skills however the question is, “why can’t they improve their quality and make better stuff?
I have a few reasons.
The first cause is that because it was a communist country for so long, there was no reward for better quality or higher production; you got the same pay no matter what the quality of your work, and so that developed an apathetic attitude towards quality.
The next cause is the Western world using China as a source of cheap labor while it was still very communistic in its control of companies back in the 1970’s and 80’s.
Production and factories grew to make products for western countries, but the attitude was still communist in respect to ‘better quality did not change your pay, so why care.’
Now the question is, “what are the conditions that separate high quality from poor quality”? If Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, Volkswagen and virtually every major car manufacturer in the world has a factory in China, they must be able to something right. Have you ever thought about that when you get into your fancy BMW and then think-‘Made in China’!
Like you, I have been perplexed by the extremes of quality. I have a Chinese friend I met in Nairobi who owns a leather bag factory. He makes purses, handbags, wallets and that sort of product.
The quality he produces matches those made in Italy, in fact, some European companies put their labels on his products. So why make such cheap stuff then? The price.
It’s the Western corporations who are buying their products from Chinese factories that are squeezing every penny out of the manufacturers in pursuit of higher profits. The old saying, you get what you pay for, is very true.
In China, you can get anything you want at any price, but you get what you pay for, and the Chinese factories are happy to deliver whatever you want. The Chinese are not stupid, they are there to make money and deliver what the customer wants.
Back to my American educated friend with the leather factory, he refuses to make the poor quality product, he is rather unique though.
He will drop his price only so far and then simply say no to a sale if it means that the products will be inferior because he knows that they will be trouble down the line in returns and frustration from the customer complaints about the poor quality.
Made in China products are poor not because the Chinese are incapable of making good quality, but in fact because the companies who buy their products insist on perpetually lowering the prices they are willing to pay.
The worst part is that even if a factory drops their price to the minimum, on the next order the client pushes to make it cheaper again. This insatiable greed is what is behind the diminishing quality of our world.
The good news is that there are more and more consumers who are frustrated with this and willing to pay a higher price for better quality. If you can deliver a superior product or service, and you charge a fair price, your business will succeed because you are part of a minority.
The onus of improving or deteriorating quality lies in the customer’s hands.
Emmanuel Nyagapfizi is a Management Information Systems manager