Both China and Japan are huge manufacturing countries; however, while one relies on bulk manufacturing, the latter has created an image of quality craftsmanship for its products. As a result, given a choice, people across the world tend to prefer products made in Japan over products made in China. So, what is the difference between ‘Made in China’ and ‘Made in Japan’?
Made in China: A stigma?
There seems to be a constant stream of news about the poor quality of products made in China, especially when it comes to food. There have been several stories ranging from eggs covered in melamine, plastic rice, urea coated bean sprouts, and the most severe of all, a milk scandal that led to the hospitalization of 54,000 babies and deaths of 6 newborns. Apart from the food items, children’s toys, too, have been found with high levels of lead in the paint used to color the toys and that most of the firecrackers produced in China do not even pass product safety inspections. This is an alarming condition, especially since a majority of the products sold all over the globe are ‘Made in China.’
The Chinese business culture and buyer-seller design play a huge role in the nature and state of these Chinese products. According to Mike Wootton, manufacturers produce cheap quality products because they want to capture those markets in which the consumers think they are unable to afford to pay for high-quality or they simply don’t want to pay for high-quality and long-lasting products. In this fast-paced world, the idea is to “use and throw” products and buy new ones that will have the latest features. While all of this could work with electronics and other material products, it certainly won’t work when it comes to food! The other factor is profits. According to Paul Midler: “Chinese manufacturers will do whatever they need to catch a piece of business. Quality fade, the quiet and incremental degradation of a product’s quality over time, is one of the more common issues.”
However, not all products that come out of China are of poor quality. Apple phones are manufactured in China and are considered to be one of the most superior quality products in the world. It’s not just limited to phones; China is also making its way to high-quality products in drone technology and high-speed trains.
Made in Japan: Quality to be reckoned with
Japan was not always known for its quality products. During the post World War II period, Japan, in its mission to rebuild the country, went on the path of producing consumer goods to boost its economy. However, its goods were not considered to be of high-quality, much like what China is going through currently. As a result of this, the Japanese manufacturers decided to transform their manufacturing processes and assume the approach of “total quality.” This approach was based on “improving all organizational processes through the people who used them.” It allowed them to achieve high-quality goods without drastically increasing the prices, especially in the consumer electronics and automobile industries. The products gained recognition for their quality on a global platform.
Till today, no matter the sector, the “Made in Japan” tag leads one to think of superior quality and long-lasting products. Each design and product in Japan stands for “painstaking, meticulous craftsmanship, consistency, quality, and trustworthy products made by senseis (masters) of their respective industries.” As a result, in today’s world where most products are labeled “Made in China,” it is refreshing to see the “Made in Japan” tag, as it instantly evokes the image of high quality. Even though the price may be high, one who is willing to buy “Made in Japan” over “Made in China” is certainly looking at the quality and not the price. And the market for this group of people may be less, but it certainly exists.
As the spending capacity of individuals increases and people are able to afford higher-priced products, the move is naturally toward the direction of higher quality products, that is, products that last long, have multiple features and are, quite simply, superior. This change in consumer behavior is making more and more people opt out of buying “Made in China” and buying more of “Made in Japan.”