Faux 'imported' brands that are made in China

Faux 'imported' brands that are made in China

2011/12/8

International cachet used to lure domestic buyers

China-made products are common around the world after decades of historic export growth, but some Chinese companies are adding a new international twist - claiming foreign roots when selling at home.

Scient milk power is made in Guangdong, yet was labeled a US brand until the company admitted it is purely Chinese, according to China Business News.

Another Chinese company had a popular slogan - "Oudian floors, really German"- for its top-end tile. That image collapsed when local media reported the product is made in China, not Germany, as the company claimed.

The latest faux foreign claims from a well-known product are by Davinci home furniture. In an effort to go up market, the company advertised that 100 percent of its furniture line is imported. Chinese media now report at least some of the furniture is made in China.

A fake foreign image is not uncommon in the current market, a practice that runs across a wide range of sectors, especially in fashion and food, Gao Boxuan, a senior researcher at CIConsulting, told Xinhua News Agency.

Giovanni de Sanctis, a senior Italian trade official, told China Daily that he himself has found several so-called Italian brands - products ranging from car scent to suitcases, bags and bedding - that have nothing to do with Italy.

Sanctis said he checked information with trade associations in his homeland and replies came back that the products he found are fake.

When he enquired about suspicious "Italian" products on sale, someone took a picture that the proprietor later used in sales material showing Sanctis with the products.

"I think the only link between the company and Italy is me," the official said.

He showed a company leaflet that promotes its alleged Italian brand Toskany with the picture of a city captioned "Tuscany", a region in Italy and the obvious inspiration for the brand.

But the picture is of Venice, which is not in Tuscany.

Fetching higher prices

Once labeled a foreign brand, a product is usually priced much higher than its domestic competitors. A foreign image also makes it much easier to find distribution channels.

As well, Chinese consumer concerns about product authenticity and safety also make foreign products - and faking them - more appealing.

Sun Yue, a professor of economics at Shandong University and veteran brand researcher, told Xinhua that foreign brands also satisfy Chinese desires to "show off" through conspicuous consumption.

To create the impression of a foreign brand, a Chinese company will often register a misleading English trademark in the country.

"Local production, international registration" is another common promotional tactic, but only the registration has any connection abroad.

In the quest for a foreign cachet, some go even further - exporting to re-import domestic products so they are marked with an overseas label.

Some so-called exports reach only as far as bonded zones within the borders of the country. After a "one-day tour", they return to the domestic market with their price surging several times.

Because consumers often lack full information, a fake foreign brand might succeed in the short run, but product quality itself is the key to a brand's sustainability, analysts said.

Such marketing myopia erodes consumer trust and hinders long-term growth in a company, they added.

Fu Shuangjian, vice-minister of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, said the market watchdog is aware of the practice and has formed a team to investigate.

While use of foreign languages in a trademark is legal, Fu said "no matter what brand is used, the information provided to the public should be true and cannot mislead or cheat consumers".

Source:China Daily)




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