chinamobile

How long will “made in China” be a bad thing?

Long enough, cause China itself and its increasingly dominating economy, do not seem to mind it at all.

In September 2013 China officially took over the place of US as the largest industrial producer in the world. That’s quality in itself, facilitated by clever utilization of the economic and societal demographics of China as whole that are different from other nations.

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It’s a “Chinese industrial revolution” paradigm, and such paradigm takes time to be changed. Besides, competition from only-high-quality-products traditionally industrial countries (UK, US, Germany, Japan, France, Italy etc.) is still there. There was a time when one would go for Taiwanese products when compared to Chinese ones, let alone ones that are made elsewhere like in Europe of the US. This is now history, cause the choice for “better Chinese” is there, too.

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Now, the Chinese manufacturing culture is showing a non-contradictory, quite transparent distinction (in my opinion) between low, average, high, extremely high quality (luxury) production. This discussion dates from at least 15 years ago, when it became clear to the world that big international brands deliberately choose China for their re-locating production plants, benefiting from low labour-cost and serving the profit motive without jeopardizing their brand equity in their “native markets” as a result of change in quality perception. Selling to “high-affluence” critical markets like the US and Europe, quality had to be maintained to abide by quality measures like the famous CE mark used in Europe.

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China makes high quality products, from cloths and apparel to electrical appliance and electronics and heavy materials and the list goes on. The only reason why the old “bad quality” label/stigma is still stuck to China, is the fact it is also a flourishing big market for cheap low-quality re-make products too. Who cares? Well, nobody. Because, it works!

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Is it “suicide” to simultaneously rebrand and reposition a brand that has a superior “brand-equity”?

I will ask the following non-rhetorical question first: what is the need for re-branding in the first place if the “brand equity” is immense?

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Vital information may be missing here that can be collected via the following sub-questions:

  1. Are we dealing with a new product by the brand OR new customers OR new markets?
  2. Your brand equity is immense and superior, but is it “negative” or positive” for your new positioning?
  3. Is it needed for the repositioning to a new customer segment that is willing to pay for “cheaper” more generic products than “branded ones”?

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I believe the core of your question lies in the word “simultaneously”. And I think that in doing both simultaneously, the risk is higher and indeed closer to a suicide (if it fails). Why? That is too much change at once! Besides, to which one will you attribute a possible failure and how much time, effort and cost will such inquiry entail before you can reverse damage?

You may want to re-position first, benefiting form the superior brand name you have and the value derived thereof and see the result. Second, if you want to offer a different price-category, you may want to re-brand and see the effects of such action, better to pilot it and research it thoroughly first.

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In many cases, considering an “endorsed identity” is much safer, one that derives trustworthiness, value, quality and recognition from the mother brand but offers “almost-the-same-for-less”. One that you can “easily” (=with minimal damage incurred) withdraw from without “self-killing” your mother brand.

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