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DaVinci case should serve as warning to U.S. furniture exporters
Those who have been following the DaVinci Furniture story out of China may be wondering what all the fuss is about. After all, you don't often read about U.S. customers upset that they are buying something made in China. In many cases, people already know that most of what they buy is made oversees, rather than in the United States, which has seen much of its manufacturing base decimated by foreign competition. And due to the values associated with imports, many U.S. consumers simply don't care where it's made.
The problem experienced by Shanghai-based retailer DaVinci is that it was marketing goods made in China as made in Italy. And based on the prices folks were paying - bedroom sets can sell for as much as $100,000 - customers there aren't too pleased. That's because their perception is that made-in-China isn't anywhere near the same quality as Italian-made. Not only that, the product advertised as solid wood was reportedly made with resin and fiberboard.
All this should be of interest to U.S. manufacturers selling their furniture in China. If a Chinese customer is paying a premium for a U.S. brand and the expectation is that it is made in the U.S., it better be made in the U.S. - not made and China and shipped to the U.S. and back, as we've heard some well known U.S. furniture companies have been doing.
The fact is - as the DaVinci case shows - that Chinese consumers are pretty savvy folks who demand truth in labeling. In addition, the Chinese government - in the interest of its growing middle class consumer base - could come down hard on companies that misrepresent themselves.
Stating the truth and not overselling yourself should be a basic business principle. But for those who don't already know this, beware that the educated Chinese consumer will indeed hold you accountable.