Be more careful with foreign brands

CCTV recently reported that Davinci, a furniture manufacturer whose products are all listed as being “Made in Italy”, has in fact been producing their products in China. The products obtain an “import certification” after a one-day tour in Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone.

In today’s free competition market, a commodity can be priced at will. There is nothing to be said against the high price as long as consumers are willing to pay for it and merchants are honest about the origins. That’s why most of the defrauded consumers are complaining that Da Vinci is deceiving them about the origin of the furniture, instead of the quality itself.

Why would someone lavish 700,000 RMB on sofa? Why would someone spend hundreds on imported cosmetics whose cost is only a few dozens Yuan? It is a problem that merits an analysis.

Luxury goods have grasped psychology in consumer spending in China. Part of these loyal consumers are eager to distinguish themselves from others by consuming high-end brands to show their levels and tastes. The higher a product is priced, the more popular it is among consumers.

There is a crucial factor we shouldn’t neglect is that most of China’s consumer goods brands came up gradually after reform and opening up o the outside world. Few of them are ranked as top brands. Apparently, the speed of brands development in China fails to reach the speed of a group of Chinese people become rich. This group of people naturally chooses western brands which are mature and well-recognized.

Then I noticed a lot of Chinese brands are inclined to give themselves foreign names. I thought Metersbonwe was a foreign brand until my old boss corrected me. Davinci is another vivid example. Some local brands or stores don’t even have Chinese names. They are registered with foreign names to promote the brand image among consumers.

These merchants surly know Chinese consumers well. Most of us tend to believe that foreign brands are good brands. Imported goods are products with good quality. They are supposed to be expensive. But the truth is, most consumers don’t have the capacity to identify the quality of the brands and their products. We just take it for granted that it’s more likely a product is good if it is priced high.

Every enterprise is purchasing maximum profit. However, the basic is to ensure the quality especially for luxury industry as it has had the biggest profits already. In my opinion, high profits should be built on a brand’s additional value rather than lowering the cost. The cost of luxury goods takes a relatively low percentage in the retail price. There is no point using bad material to further lower the cost. When the economic condition permits, a group of consumers would love to buy luxury goods because they believe these luxuries are excellently made.

As a rational consumer, I don’t think I would ever purchase Davinci furniture. I can afford a 500,000 Yuan closet but that doesn’t fit my consumption concept. It doesn’t matter where a product is made. I more care about the quality and price performance.

A couple of my female friends were very upset when I informed them that Lancôme, Sisley and other international cosmetics brands failed to pass the summer supplies quality inspection, which was released earlier this month. They are firmly conceived that these expensive products can keep them young and beautiful. “It must be more effective. That’s why it’s much more expensive,” one of my friends said.

Sadly, now we know better than ever before that not all the expensive foreign brands ensure us good quality. For those who worship foreign brands, it’s better to ask yourself before you purchase next time: do I really need this product? Why do I want to buy it besides it’s a foreign brand? How much do I know about this brand and product?

These questions seem more necessary to be asked since the deceiving has been exposed. I’m sure there are more brands like that in the market. It’s time to open our eyes and be more careful when purchasing fancy foreign brands, or any other brand.

Changes required in Shanghai’s Thames Town

I remember in 2001, urban planners in Shanghai initiated the “One City, Nine Towns” project, which aimed to decentralize the city by building nine unique satellite towns modeled after cities from other countries.

With the help of these wonderful architects from all over the world, it seems like we can walk along Thames River or grasp romantic feelings in Madrid without even leaving Shanghai.
Unfortunately, these exotic towns can barely attract attention from public and gradually faded into the background.

Located in Songjiang district, 20 miles away from downtown, Thames Town is the most famous town among these new settlements. It features cobblestone streets, red telephone boxes, guards in red uniforms, and Edwardian townhouses.

But the only thing missing is the people.

I went to Thames Town again last week to cover a story. It hasn’t changed much since I visited it last year. By change I mean the popularity. The occupancy rate is still under 50%, though, according to the real estate agent, all the houses were sold out five years ago. People enjoy a getaway at the weekends but living here seems a little bit scary, especially in the evening.

Residents call it a ghost town.

I could hardly see any other visitors beside the couples and photographers who were shooting wedding photos. None of the restaurants were open when I was there except a café called incomplete coffee. The owner was very excited to see us as we were the only two customers during the lunch time.

To be honest, I wouldn’t even think of going back if it’s not for work purpose. It takes two hours to get there from the city by metro and then taxi. I have a limited choice of eating and window shopping. Another thing is that, people don’t want to do business in the town as there are too few visitors and visitors like me who don’t want to go back.

The government seems very picky about the merchants. They have established an investment promotion department for over a year but haven’t attracted enough investment yet. They care about what you sell and how many you can sell. They also care about whether the products you sell fit Thames Town’s surrounding. That’s probably why less and less people want to do business here.

I actually appreciate the government being strict with the merchants. It’s crucial to keep its style as that’s what outstands Thames Town from other residential areas in Shanghai. Maybe it’s better to keep it that way so that the residents can have a quiet life here and wake up by the singing of the birds every morning.

And that’s exactly why they chose to move to Thames Town in the first place, to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. If there are thousands of visitors in the town everyday, what’s the difference of living there? I think the government should shift its focus from attracting business to serving the residents. They could start with extend metro line or add more taxis near the town. The transportation is not convenient at all. It took me 20 minutes to get a crab both times when I was there.

Another thing the government can do is to develop owner committee and residents’ committee in the town. They should have been established five years ago. Besides, how come there is still no food market or supermarket inside the town? Residents have to drive 15 times to get and daily supplies.

The initial purpose of building such towns was good, but the planning should have combined with local factors to better serve the local residents. I believe the occupancy rate will be greatly increased if the government really takes actions to solve these problems.