Made in Germany – Is it Really a Successful Brand?

One of the many German Truck drivers that do the Rotterdam run, is Hans. A run to collect consumer goods made in China and other Asian Countries, and drop them off at German factories for packaging, and to be eventually labeled “Made in Germany”. After Hans drops off and waits by one of Germany’s largest packaging plants, he laughs, “Conning the Russians has always been good business.” After all, this was the first stage in Han’s journey, the Shoes were made in China but unsuspecting Russians will see the “Made in Germany.” brand in each pair of shoes, and Han’s will deliver them to Russia. Is Germany conning the World?

Not an easy question, given the amount of products packaged but not manufactured in Germany, coming in from Eastern Europe and Asia. That are somehow added to the export figures, and GDP of Germany quite legally. So why do non-German manufacturers prefer using the “Made in Germany” brand?

Consumers often are judgemental about products and their place of origin. Germany has always promoted and maintained a name for quality products, even if a lot of these products are actually made in countries with a poor quality image. Corporations that import these products, make higher profits because of the low labor costs in these Countries, asking a higher price based on the high “quality” image of German products. Not everyone is fooled, even the Economist Magazine published an article stating Germany was fast becoming a “Tinker” state peddling the “Made in Germany” brand for less well known manufacturing Countries in Asia, and Eastern Europe. This may of raised questions at the time, but remained a side issue until the current economic crisis created a predicted loss of 2.5% growth in the last quarter of 2008. This is suspect, because this loss of growth, could actually be the loss of exports being shipped through Germany, as factories across the developing World close, and European retailers predict lower orders for 2009. One fear for many German economists could be the fact that the deceptive marketing of the “Made in Germany” brand, could be the demise of the current consumer perception of “quality German made products.”

Consumers may feel deceived if the product they bought, in the belief that it was German made is in reality manufactured elsewhere. This could in turn question the honesty of German made products, and whether the extra price Consumers often pay for these products, is really worth it. Consequently adding more problems to a Country currently battling with high unemployment, and a banking industry in crisis.