Tuesday, November 20, 2007
China is touted to be the world’s next superpower, out to oust the United States in terms of the burgeoning Chinese economy. With cheap labor and expansive market, China products are sold cheaply and, more likely than not, patronized over similar yet less affordable products. Furthermore, the range of items China sells around the globe is so wide that many of them, from food to clothes to cosmetics, bear the mark “Made in China.” Raw materials, goods, drugs, toys, among other items with touches of Chinese industry, are readily available as they are affordable. Chinese-made products dominating our homes are being carried all over the market, from the shopping malls to the supermarket, from groceries to bazaars.
This pervasiveness of China-manufactured items is set to change after recalls of products like tires, toothpaste and toys had been made. If these products were found to contain components that pose health hazards, it is not far-fetched for patrons to question whether other China-made items can be dangerous to our well-being, especially the coincidental recalls. The pullout of White Rabbit candies as well as other Chinese sweets for their health-threatening formalin content can lead to a boycott of sort since no one in one’s right mind will consciously take in something that is dangerous to one’s health. One will more likely cast a doubt whether to go use or consume a China-made product if it means risking one’s life. After all, there are similar items that do not originate in China which may be had without necessarily creating the same threatening impression. If the market teems with competitor products that are publicly perceived as safe no matter how many more pesos inflated, China-made goods may lose out on them. It will have to take a matter of time (or the dreaded short-term memory of the Filipinos) before the affected products’ problem blows over and rouse the Chinese economy into a bullish state again.
In the light of these pullout events, Chinese products that are already available in the Philippine market may have to suffer a domino effect. The bad impression created by their compatriot products will possibly drag even the unaffected products from their previously high demand. For fear that the unaffected products may prove to be unsafe for mass consumption too, authorities may have to conduct more careful inspection of imported goods. Stricter laws on products regulations will have to be implemented. Companies will be enjoined into incorporating environmental awareness in their product samples like waste management practice so as consumers are assured of their quality and supervision. Meanwhile, Filipino buyers will have to take quality top consideration and will have to forego being easily blinded by low-costing goods. They will have to think twice about doing certain purchases and, in effect, widen their options to more credible brands, locally-made goods included. Also, they will have to become more aware of the alarming effects of affected products’ contents to their health, thereby they develop safety consciousness. Therefore, the crisis that posed immense risk to the Chinese industry in general may produce opportunities, after all.
This dark industrial setback for China may actually present some silver lining for Chinese-Filipino entrepreneurs. Given the bad image China products currently suffer from, Chinoy businessmen may deem it high time to strike while the iron is hot. They can enact a marketing strategy that will heighten consumers’ awareness on the quality of local products compared to that of the Chinese-made goods. Its manufacturer can promote Hapee toothpaste, for example, as an inexpensive Filipino product that offers affordability as well as safety. The market share of the Chinese toothpaste can be lionized by any other competitor, except that Hapee stands a chance for its inexpensive price.
The Chinoys can possibly export locally-manufactured products like rubber plastics in order to expand into the global market. This is less prohibitive since the focus on China-made products became weaker and, thus, facing serious challenges in the global market. These products which were discovered to have defect and low quality can be challenged by local products which can offer more customer value and satisfaction to catering countries. This is an opportunity for the local products to come stronger in terms of manufacturing in order to win a sizeable market being vacated by the declining demand for Chinese goods. To illustrate, Pinoy entrepreneurs can supply plastics, rubbers, tires, coconut oils—products China is currently weakening at or altogether lacking—to territories in which defective Chinese goods got recalled. Developing products that are not yet fully developed in China
The local entrepreneurs can further seize the opportunity by creating more aggressive campaigns that will market their goods to the consumers. At this time of the year when Christmas is fast approaching and gift giving is the season’s rage, the occasion calls for answering more demands to manufacture toys. If the patronized (until recently) Chinese goods lack on significant quality, manufacturers can create modified versions of such goods so that they will have better features, better packaging and the like and, therefore, better competitors than the product from which the concept was derived. Coinciding with the peak season, the better products will enjoy greater demands and, as a result, higher patronage of local products.
Most importantly, in the wake of the weakening Chinese grip on business dealings, the local entrepreneurs can improve on relational networks with local and foreign companies and markets. They should build good relationships in order to have partners or associates that will strengthen product development in such a way as to avoid repeating the corporate blunder involving Chinese products. These relationships can also make way for the exportation of local products to places where business partners are far-reaching. Companies may also send personnel to train in business trips and to attend trade fairs that will not only bring ideas for product development brainstorming but also open opportunities to make dealings with more businesses. In improving the external structure of the company in a bid to fortify it, the company should also develop a sophisticated industrial structure as well as manpower that can be globally competitive. Hiring English-proficient workers is one thing but more importantly, these workers should be highly-skilled so that they can lend their global market advantageousness to the products they will develop.