“Made In China”: Managing The Backlash, Protecting The Brand

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Every day seems to bring more misery for the “Made in China” label. I have recently reported on a range of poisonous and dangerous goods from China that have resulted in corporate recalls and consumer fears.

In a damage-limitation exercise, China recently appointed Vice-Premier Wu Yi to head a team to manage the crisis. Now it is reported (by Bloomberg) that a four-month quality campaign is being launched:

    “China, under pressure to improve the quality of exports ranging from food to toys, will run a four- month campaign to weed out defective products and repair the damage to the nation’s brands, the government said.

    The campaign from September through December covers farm produce, processed and retail food, catering, drugs, pork, imports and exports, appliances and toys that affect health, the central government said on its Web site yesterday.

    “This is a special battle to protect the interest and health of the masses, the prestige of Chinese products and our nation’s image,” Vice Premier Wu Yi, picked last week to head a government task force to enhance quality, said in the meeting.

    Specific goals of the Chinese government’s program include ensuring that all food producers have business and hygiene licenses, eradicating the use of banned pesticides, agricultural chemicals and feed additives and strengthening inspection of imports and exports of toys, lamps, and small appliances.”

The article also provides a summary of problem products, to which I have added a few:

    • Mattel recalled over 20 million toys made in China
    • Counterfeit Colgate toothpaste was found to contain a poisonous chemical
    • Antibiotics were found to kill rather than cure
    • Mattresses were withdrawn from sale in the Netherlands
    • Clothing was removed from shelves in New Zealand
    • Wal-Mart found melamine in some dog treats
    • Menu Foods in Canada recalled 60 million cans of pet food (more melamine)
    • Farmed fish was tainted with drugs and additives

A senior Chinese official is reported to have said that only “0.3 percent of the 6.2 billion toys China sold to the U.S. last year” were affected by recalls. While it is probably true, and while most China-made products are just fine, that is not a message that will wash with the media, or with consumers around the world. Especially when their pets, or kids, are at risk.

Wu Yi has a big job on her hands to help rebuild Brand China internationally (as well as to provide “the masses” with confidence at home), and to ensure it starts heading back up the value chain , and does not end up going down the drain instead. In the meantime, buyers and manufacturers need to take steps to protect their own brands. And there are better ways to do that than through a very public recall of millions of products…investigate, test and inspect!

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2 Responses to ““Made In China”: Managing The Backlash, Protecting The Brand”

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