Von Christian Block, Sara Bulka, Petra Priemer und Nicola Wendt
In 1876, the development of “Made in Germany” started. On the world exhibition in Philadelphia Germans were assumed to manufacture products with inferior quality. They were disappointed because of these accusations. Their endeavor increased to produce high quality products but with low prices. Ten years later in 1886 a trade crisis ruled Great Britain, which was mainly caused by the high amount of German products, which suppressed English products. The British established the law that all German products had to be marked with “Made in Germany” but even so Germany grew to an important exporting nation. Until today “Made in Germany” developed as a worldwide known quality label in many areas, e. g. in technical or medical area (cf. N.N., www.made-in-germany.biz, 18/04/2012).
2. Legal Bases
The use of the designation “Made in Germany” is not subject to explicit regulations, but can be derived from the competition law. On the one side there is the national “Act Against Unfair Competition” considering the national competition. On the other side there is the “Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks” which has to be used internationally. Just as the “Act Against Unfair Competition”, it prohibits wrong or misleading indications of source. In addition, the “European Customs Code” elaborates that there would be a misleading if the last defining processing step did not take place in a German manufacturing plant (cf. N.N., IHK Region Stuttgart, 18/04/2012). Thus, it is not necessary that all raw materials or pre-products respectively components of industrial products come from Germany, if the decisive production process, the completion, is situated in Germany (cf. Keller, 19/04/2012). A global car like BMW which consists up to 45 % of international components can also be offered as “Made in Germany”, because it is predominantly German-assembled (cf. Lipicki, 16/04/2012). According to this, the designation “Made in Germany” does not cause any misleading of consumers regarding the product quality and reliability.
3. “Made in Germany“ – An effective marketing instrument?
German companies have used the brand image “Made in Germany“ for decades to win customers and advertise products. The quality standard of German products is high and China is one of the most important importers of German goods. Over the years Chinese companies improved their production sites to reach a similar quality like Western companies. So, the competition has intensified between Germany and the Asian low-wage countries. Declines in German sales are possible (cf. Henrich, 20/04/2012). To be able to exist on international markets, German companies need more than just the brand image of “Made in Germany”. Every company has to develop its own brand image and heighten the awareness and reputation of the brand (cf. Wander, 10/04/2012). Apart from the brand management, it is also important that a social media strategy is planned and implemented. In addition to this, German companies should build up an attractive employer brand to hold young professionals and innovative strength in Germany (cf. Berdi, 12/04/2012). As well many customers do not want to pay for German high-end products, because they just need reliable and good products of the middle class. So, German companies should diversify their product range and offer downgraded products as well which are desired by the customers (cf. Henrich, 20/04/2012).
4. Comparison of brand values
The designation “Made in Germany” is not a protected seal of quality. Nevertheless, many German people have confidence in this seal. Quality plays a prominent role in purchasing products like toys 80 %, food 70 %, kitchen appliances 63 %, cars 56 %, clothes and entertainment electronics 41 % (cf. N.N., http://www.business-wissen.de, 16/04/2012). Services and products from Germany and Switzerland are considered as unique, high quality, reliable and valuable, not only in Germany but also overseas. The overall impression of products and services in twelve countries shows that there is a three-class society. Products and services from Switzerland, Germany and Japan are classified as excellent. USA, Great Britain, Austria, France and Italy are located in the middle class and in the worst class there are Brazil, Russia, India and China. Germany ranks among the top class with 72 % (cf. Feige et al, 17/04/2012).
Altogether, it can be said that the quality label “Made in Germany“ still exists. But the companies have to remember that their competitors never rest. So the companies have to recognize, that “Made in Germany“ is only combined with an adapted marketing strategy a long-term competitive advantage. This combination is indispensable to resist changing market conditions and the increasing requirements of global networking, now and in the future.
Berdi, C., “Aufwachen oder aufgeben”: http://www.absatzwirtschaft.de/content/_p=1004040,an=030712011,tp=MarkenWiss, date: 12/04/2012.
Bialek, Catrin et al: Markenimage – Deutsch ist geil http://www.handelsblatt.com/unternehmen/it-medien/made-in-germany-markenimage-deutsch-ist-geil/5746232.html, date: 16/04/2012.
Feige, Dr. Stephan et al: Das Herkunftsland als Verkaufsargument einsetzen, http://www.business-wissen.de/marketing/marketingstrategie-das-herkunftsland- als-verkaufsargument-einsetzen/, date: 17/04/2012.
Henrich, A., Anlagenbau – Für die Chinesen gut genug, http://www.wiwo.de/unternehmen/mittelstand/hannovermesse/anlagenbau-fuer-die- chinesen-gut-genug/6504272.html, date: 20/04/2012.
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Lipicki, Christian (Berliner Zeitung): Import-Autos, Made in Germany, http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/archiv/import-autos–made-in germany,10810590,10430820.html, date: 16/04/2012.
N. N.: Portal für Wirtschaft, Export und Technik, http://www.made-in-germany.biz/ueber-uns/made-in-germany.html, date: 17/04/2012.
N.N.: Qualitätssiegel „Made in Germany“ kommt bei Verbrauchern gut an, http://www.business-wissen.de/marketing/qualitaetssiegel-made-in-germany-kommt-bei-verbrauchern-gut-an/, date: 16/04/2012.
Wander, N., “Made in Germany” reicht nicht mehr – Warum lohnt sich gezielte Markenabeit?, http://www.media-treff.de/index.php/2012/01/03/made-in-germany-reicht-nicht-mehr-warum-lohnt-sich-gezielte-markenarbeit/, date: 10/04/2012.