10 September 2009

Brands and outsourcing

At Futurelab Jonathon Salem Baskin asks why consumers don't bother (much) about where what they buy is made. He cites the downsides of outsourced manufacture: from quality of product to environmental impacts. He thinks country of manufacture will, in the future, be associated with brands and influence people's purchasing decisions.

Maybe. But, for most people, desirability and price are far more salient at the time of purchase than other attributes. The UK's M&S had a 'made in the UK' policy for many years, but dropped it in the last few years, presumably because of the pressure of undercutting by other retailers. If there are concerns about the impact of outsourcing, there's plenty of reassurance about companies' ethical policies and not much discussion about long term consequences. On the other hand, there would also be significant impacts for local economies in reducing outsourcing (read Adiga's The White Tiger for how bleak it might be.)

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