There is no denying that China has become one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world. Its economy has seen growth rates averaging around 10 percent over a period of 30 years. From a centrally planned economy to a market-based economy, the country has experienced both economic and social development. With a population of over 1 billion people, China has become the second largest economy in the world, standing just a step behind the US.
China’s remarkable success has made it an influential player in the global market. Much of its growth can be attributed to it being the world’s manufacturing hub. Many American businesses have turned to outsourcing their manufacturing operations from China because of its many advantages. Apart from China’s cheap operating costs and manual labor, the country’s easy access to ports also makes it the ideal exporter of goods. With businesses from all over the globe outsourcing their products and services from China, the influx of investments and businesses into the country has experienced a rapid growth. However, despite the country’s impressive economy, why is it that people are still second guessing products that are “Made in China”?
It has been a long known fact that China is one of the biggest manufacturers of counterfeit products. This is probably the reason why many are still doubtful of a product’s authenticity and safety when they find out that it is manufactured from the country. It is still surprising that in spite of all its counterfeiting operations, the country has still managed to climb its way to the top of the economic ladder. However, is it really in spite of these operations that the country was able to penetrate the global market?
According to experts, China’s expanding counterfeit industry is a major contributor to the country’s global success today. Without China providing consumers affordable alternatives to today’s most popular products, the country would not have penetrated the global market quite as aggressively. As the demand for cheaper products continues to grow, Chinese businesses will always have the opportunity to take on the world.
China’s ability to wittingly imitate popular brands has allowed it not only to produce cheap replicas of existing brands, but to also shamelessly come up with copycat brands. With phones like the HiPhone, cookies like Boreos, coffee drinks from Sunbucks, and pizzas from Pizza Huh, China’s counterfeiting industry has been slowly eating away the country’s ability to create genuinely unique innovations.
An example is the global brand Miniso which aesthetically passes itself as a Japanese brand, but is actually a Chinese brand. With over a thousand stores in China and only four in Japan, Miniso’s all-red logo closely resembles high-end Japanese lifestyle stores Muji and Uniqlo, but with prices ranging a little higher than the Japanese budget store Daiso. It is the brainchild of Chinese businessman Ye Guofu and Japanese designer Junya Miyake. The fact the a Japanese designer co-owns this brand gives the company the ability to claim that their products are designed in Japan. However, customers may overlook the fact that despite being designed in Japan, the products are still manufactured in China. Critics have therefore dubbed Miniso’s products as “Made in China to look Japanese”.
For sure, Japanese consumers have been the most critical of Miniso’s marketing strategy. Both countries already have a complicated business and political relationship, yet a harmless retail store like Miniso seems to add to the problem. What’s strange is that copying a Japanese aesthetic has led some consumers to question why a Chinese brand would open a Japanese store, especially in Nanjing where the Nanjing Massacre occurred. Many believe that it is because consumers have a deeper trust in Japanese brands compared to Chinese. This goes to show that in spite of the complicated relationship between the two countries, Chinese businesses are willing to overlook their differences by identifying themselves as Japanese just to emerge in the global market.