Label Wars: Made in China, Japan, or America

We regularly come across clothing items that support labels such as ‘Made in China’ or ‘Made in Japan. Quite often, you might have wondered what it actually means and why it is necessary to mention them on clothes. The fact of the matter is that these labels significantly influence the decision making of shoppers when it comes to buying clothes. It is more like a mental state, which forces people to buy clothes made or originating from a particular country.

Today, the majority of products that you see feature the ‘Made in China’ label. Even during the COVID chaos, the world isn’t stopping from buying products from China. Although the quality might not be top-notch, the prices are extremely competitive. Label wars take place virtually. With customers looking to buy products with labels of their preference, the competition becomes even tougher. Therefore, let’s discuss what takes place behind the scenes and how it has managed to create a unique mindset amongst the customers. Luxury cosmetics brand Kanebo Sensai is one original from Japan.

Made in Japan

There was a time when the world had its eyes on Japan due to its Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Disaster. At the time, not a single country was ready to trade anything with the country due to serious concerns about radioactivity. However, it is nothing less than a miracle that Japan recovered from what was a fatal blow to proudly mention ‘Made in Japan’.

Back in the day, Japan was known for its high-quality cars. Toyota and Honda for instance both had Japanese founders. It goes without saying that in the world of automobiles, Japan had rightfully made a name for itself. Both Toyota and Honda even today are known for quality, durability, and reliability. Furthermore, both companies compete head to head, to introduce the best selling cars every year. Even today, if you were to ask anyone regarding Japanese cars, they would swear by their quality.

Similarly, Japan was once at the top of the world when it came to producing microwaves, air-conditioners, and boom boxes, etc. This was also a time when Japan was producing excellent quality TVs that were being sold across the globe. However, as the technology shifted from analog to digital in 2011, things took a hit for the worst.

This along with other things had brought so much confidence amongst the Japanese that they would always prefer their domestic goods to imports. However, with time the Japanese mindset is changing. People in Japan are gradually moving towards the point where they do not care about whether the product is made in Japan or not. There are several reasons for that. In recent years, Japan’s economic condition has been deteriorating. This is the primary reason behind customers being less picky about products specifically ‘Made in Japan’.

The Japanese loyalty with the ‘Made in Japan’ label has certainly declined overtime. Reason being, that the disasters have had a huge impact on Japanese consumer psychology. The nuclear plant disaster along with the flooding in Thailand, where many Japanese companies were operating, exposed the weakness and fragileness of the supply chain. Altogether, this has paved the way for foreign products to enter the Japanese market and bring more choice to consumers. Ultimately, making people less conscious of a label that was once known for its top-notch quality.

Made in America

From a rational and logical viewpoint, it should not really matter where the product is made as far as the customer can get the best quality product at a reasonable price. However, then again, these labels have induced a certain mindset that pushes consumers to support their local businesses. Consider the example of a famous clothing manufacturer, Old Navy. Old Navy was known as a brand that manufactured and produced premium quality clothes. It is a fact that once you had purchased and experienced the Old Navy, you would not try anything else.

Furthermore, people who have been loyal to the brand will hardly shift to other competitive brands such as Zara Man or Pull & Bear, etc. Today, the Old Navy still operates as a giant and continues to sell its clothes and accessories around the world. This brand alone was sufficient to convey the world about the quality provided by Americans.

Clothing items made in America majorly consist of luxury items. This puts them out of reach of an average American. Therefore, only the rich could afford them. The Daily Prep blog performed a survey in an attempt to determine whether the Americans were conscious of the ‘Made in America’ label. The survey concluded with the finding that 63% of people strongly favored American goods. However, the problem is that even if American consumers favored products made in America, most of them were not able to afford them. Therefore, one way or the other, people will look at different options due to the ongoing economic crisis.

Made in China

Regardless of the fact that the world considers ‘Made in China’ products cheap but in reality, China has gained a huge market share in the biggest markets of the world. Almost everything in your house today is made in China. A major reason behind China capturing the world market is due to its cheap labor. So, there is no question as to why mammoth economies like America wouldn’t like to shift their businesses to China.

However, there is a dark side to it as well. China has been on the world’s map due to labor exploitation in terms of extremely long working hours with close to nothing being paid. Over time, the issue has been raised several times across the globe and has caught the attention of the Human Rights Association as well but it hardly influences the consumers.

Similarly, the unfortunate clothing factory incident in Bangladesh that claimed 1,100 lives hardly had any effect on shoppers. A survey conducted highlighted the fact that people were ready to pay a bit more in order to provide better working conditions for workers in third world countries. However, the reality is that the majority of them still want fashion at cheap rates and do not really care as to what it takes to produce them.

Then again, there is a limitation to it. Many people are skeptical as to whether the extra money they pay will help achieve positive results. Even if it does, the question is for how long? The point is that consumers are still happy about their purchases, knowing that the situation has not permanently changed for the better. Therefore, regardless of the controversies that surround a label, people will continue to shop and this is due to China’s extremely budget-friendly products that it offers to the world, without even giving them a chance to think about what lies underneath.

Final Word

Concluding, when it comes to label wars, each carries its limitations. However, the bottom line is that label wars have successfully helped the labels capture their respective customer segments. On one hand, where Americans prefer and do care about their businesses, they are not able to afford them and on the other, the Japanese are not that concerned about their labels. Lastly, people may not like the cheap products offered by China but at the same time who does not like cheap goods. As a result, people may or may not be conscious about labels depending on the economic conditions and the situations that surround them.