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What Does Made in China Really Mean?

What Does Made in China Really Mean?

For years, The words “Made in China” brought up images of poorly made products that were cheap knockoffs of western versions.  A third of Americans go so far as choosing not to buy a product if they’re aware that it’s owned by a Chinese brand or produced in China.  However, since many top selling US brands such as Apple are entirely manufactured in China, what does ‘Made in China’ really mean?


Many brands are determined to shed the negative connotations that ‘Made in China’ conveys.  To their consumers, some negativity is justified.  Take for example the crisis in 2007 that resulted in a series of children’s products being recalled.  Consumer confidence in the safety of these products was dramatically diminished as recalls went out across the nation for toys, health and beauty items, and pet supplies.  Newer trends suggest that Chinese brands are making legitimate headway and are on the path to give American and western brands serious competition.


Basketball star Dwayne Wade made headlines when he chose to separate himself from global sneaker brand Nike and join with Ling Ni, an Asian brand.  The backlash from US customers was immediate but in the two years since the partnership, Ling Ni has established itself as a new, but reliable and comfortable brand.  Reviewers have posted enthusiastic reviews regarding their performance, price point, and design.  It’s endorsements, reviews, and recommendations like these that will change the landscape of Chinese products and how they’re viewed in today’s market.


Even though many products are made in China, the US still benefits heavily from their design, which most often occurs in the US.  Further, components like batteries, accessories, and software are made and/or developed in the United States. The US also benefits from the competitiveness that Chinese products bring to the table.  A major concern from American consumers lies in the fact that Chinese workers are often subjected to poor conditions, long hours, and grueling work.  Work-related injuries continue while insurance is often expensive or not available at all.  However, continued public scrutiny of these issues has helped.  Apple has joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a manufacturing overseer that conducts independent reviews of conditions inside factories.  With Apple a major Chinese manufacturer, FLA hopes to put pressure on the Chinese government to change its position on workers rights, conditions, and pay.

Many top brands, such as Whole Foods 365 organic products and Motts Apple Juice, are Made in China but do not experience a backlash over their production locations.  The Made in China PR campaign has worked hard to promote a positive image of Chinese products by changing the message from Made in China to “Made in China, Made with the world.”  To many products that have an established consumer market and haven’t experienced bad press, the public relations campaign seems to have helped.


Changing a consumer’s stance on products that are Made In China means refocusing from the failures in the past to the innovations of the future. Asia has had a history of innovations including crossbows, paper, and gunpowder.  With a history rich in world-changing innovations, Made in China should be respected, promoted, and challenged.