Blame it on the Chinese

19 May


Remember that great song in the late 80ies, Blame it on the Rain? Before the guys were exposed as posers who were lipsyncing?


These days, the title has changed to Blame it on the Chinese.

Imitation, knockoff, low manufacturing quality Chinese goods are flooding the market. To be a Chinese product in Tanzania is to be “fake.” I was a bit surprised though when the hotel clerk in Amsterdam insisted that the plug converter I needed wasn’t available here because my type of plug “must be Chinese.”

American style plug

Turns out, well, actually turn it around. Even I didn’t even think to turn to turn the silly thing upside down. It plugged in fine. Learned that after a quick trip to the store, and a very kind clerk who didn’t mock me for missing the obvious.

Because Chinese manufacturing is also the best in the world. Spanning the gamut of options, the Chinese make the most intricate, best products in the world that are sold in markets everywhere (Apple iPhone anyone? Canon Cameras?).

Why has Chinese manufacturing become synonymous with cheap when the reality is that only a segment of it’s manufacturing does that? 

First, target markets. Everyone thinks Africa only wants cheap. Not true. A cultural preconception has lead to a major marketing error. My friends will use a knockoff phone if they have to, but once money is available, the iPhone is the phone of choice. Quality does matter.

Second, some unscrupulous chinese manufactorers, in cahoots with local scoundrels,  have allowed the pursuit of profit short term to undermine their reputation long term. Remember the web rumors about a cheap iPhone? Not here yet, eh? Ever seen Rolex come out with an entry level watch? A quick websearch reveals a $1300 version. Right…

My take aways?

They are simple, and time tested. Totally unoriginal But still true.

Guard your reputation. You’ve only got one. Loose it and you may never get it back (Milli Vanilli, Tiger Woods, anyone?)

Short term gains while violating your core values don’t equal long term gains. Ever. (Seth Godin's post on this is insanely better than what I just wrote. came across my desk after the first posting of this, so I had to include.)

Just watch this video and remember whose to blame.

What does that mean in your world? I have an idea what it means in mine, but for you?

Let me know.