Rebranding "Made in China"
Jul. 11, 2017
Counterfeit goods are so rampant in China that even middle class consumers are buying imports rather than domestically-made products. The Chinese government has become so concerned that it's launched a strategy aimed at rebranding "Made in China" to win back customer trust.
In a town in China's Fujian Province, the streets burst with wholesale shoe stores. Logos that look like famous brands.
After 9 the district comes alive. Motorbike riders buzz around delivering shoes.
We ask a clerk for the brand of a pair of shoes.
"That's our own brand," says the clerk. "It's not a knockoff."
He insists that the store sells its own registered goods. But they also sell something different.
"Yeah, we sell copies too," he says.
Nearby, paper bags carry the logos of famous brands.
You even get a sales slip. Real ones each have a unique number. But there, all the numbers are the same.
The sales assistant we talked to implied that counterfeit goods could be sold in large numbers.
"If you wanted to buy them in bulk, you'd need a secret delivery route," says one store staff member.
China's middle class has now grown to 300 million people. Some say they prefer imported products because domestic ones can be fake.
The government realized that the image of "Made in China" needed to change and that it was the only way to focus the country's giant purchasing power on domestic products. So, Beijing began a national brand strategy.
"These fakes on the domestic market are an issue for Chinese society," says Xu jing, Director of the Global Purchasing Center. "We need a complete series of changes that includes manufacturers, distributors, sellers and consumers."
Meanwhile, companies that have lost market share to fake goods have started taking steps of their own.
The Kweichow Maotai Company makes distilled liquor. The company is a household name in China and also part of the government's national brand strategy.
Maotai is thought of as the national liquor. Chinese leaders have served it to entertain foreign dignitaries.
But there's more than twice the amount of fake Maotai in circulation than the genuine drink.
Many stores near the plant have logos that look like the original. But they're not selling the real thing.
So, the company started using technology to help customers know whether they were buying the genuine article.
Light from a special machine hits the bottle cap, and the company's name comes floating up in English and Chinese. That means it's genuine. The bottle cap is embedded with an IC chip. The production date and other details can be checked on a smartphone.
The company has also installed liquor vending machines at restaurants. This allows the customers to buy directly from the company.
"It's reassuring. The real thing doesn't give you a headache," says one.
"The makers of fake Maotai have been wiping out our profits," says Hu Yongjun of Kweichow Maotai Group. "That's why we're trying to get rid of them."
The national strategy is designed to bolster the image of domestic products. The government aims to make the words 'Made in China' synonymous with trust.