For those in Australia, hands up who owns a Holden Colorado or an Isuzu D-Max? Better still, anyone here looking to place an order for the new Mercedes Benz X-Class ute in 2018? What's it to you I hear you ask!
Bear with me, if you will, for my point is not really about the cars, rather the globalised economy we now live. Perhaps if I put it to you another way, are we as modern consumers concerned about the commonalities that underpin our favourite products and brands? Do we care that our Mercedes Ute shares its core DNA with a Nissan Navara? When comparing the Holden Colorado and Isuzu D-Max, what exactly are consumers basing their purchasing decision? If products are one and the same, what is it that we will compare, price, perceived quality, 'brand' or warranty?
Such were my thoughts on a recent trip to China, observing just how far the Chinese have come. A continued and committed advancement in quality and attention to detail, that for my mind was not present five years ago. Don't get me wrong, there is no doubt that in their haste to become an economic powerhouse, the Chinese cut corners; heck, I think if you were to ask them directly, they'd even admit to the odd copyright or trademark infringement as well as reverse engineering a design (or two).
While such behaviour should ever be condoned, I can't help but think that the Chinese are completely to blame. Rather, it is we (our Westernised corporate culture) that fed the beast, in pursuit of larger profits and shareholder returns. Ladies and gents, the Chinese have come of age and it is we, the consumer, that are benefiting from it.
So, what has this got to do with heavy earthmoving machinery, components and parts? Everything really, when you consider that we're all pursuing cost effective solutions with equal, if not more reliable outcomes. In our continued pursuit of lower prices, we have in essence forced companies to collaborate, necessitating a sharing of ideas to bring to market new products. If this sharing is leading companies to converge towards a 'norm' and products are becoming one and the same, the key question ultimately has to be, at what point does the discount or warranty of an untested product, justify our change to an unknown or unrecognised brand?
This article was originally published by the Components Only team in the November - December 2017 issue of "@ The Coal Face" magazine.Published 23 November, 2017