The “Made in China” quality gap closes

Isaac Mostovicz writes that "Made in China" is coming to stand for high quality, artisanal and crafted ...

A recent article in the Financial Times describes an evolution that Chinese consumers are undergoing. As the country begins to encourage domestic spending, attracting consumers at home has become a priority for retailers – who are finding that their own consumers are some of the most difficult to please.

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And it’s not just within the luxury sector, when consumers are buying big-ticket items such as handbags and cars. Food, electronics, gadgets and homeware are all being scrutinized with an increasingly eagle eye.


Tesco, the UK retailer, says the Chinese middle class is “becoming increasingly sophisticated in the quality of products they purchase”, including buying more foreign and high-end brands.


The Chinese appetite for fake goods seems to be diminishing, too. Escada, the women’s designer clothing group conducted a survey which found that Chinese consumer willingness to buy fakes has diminished, from 31% in 2008 to 12% by 2010.


Despite an appetite for luxury carrier bags in the past, as salaries increase and tastes become more cultured, a cheaply-made item with a designer logo is no longer good enough. The middle class is attracted to provenance, to an appreciation of quality, to the story or time invested behind the product.


Within Janusian thinking, this posits the Chinese as moving towards the Lambda mindset – seeing an item’s value not in terms of price, but rather, in terms of craftsmanship. They’re interested in the time that it took to make – whether it’s unique, and overall the quality of the item – rather being attracted to the glitz of a fake logo.



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