The Chinese have bested and mastered the market on low cost and mediocre quality products. The Chinese have shown Americans that price is important for consumers but doesn’t tell the whole story. Manufacturing technology has few national borders in today’s world and Americans must come to a keen understanding that price is not something that makes up one of their strengths. Instead value for the “right” price should be the new vanguards that will help American products earn market position.
Value is often seen more readily among consumers that desire meaningful products. For example, the decline of the American auto manufacturing industry was inevitable because the American companies could not compete on quality, price, design and utility. Consumers were looking for the highest value and could not find them in the designs of yesteryear. In essence American products had less value then their foreign competitors and therefore their demand in the market decreased. People simply found more value in Japanese cars.
American products have suffered from an image of poor quality and low value for a long time. Without great options people simple switch to cheaper products with little to no concern. As companies, people and nations switch to cheaper products which are considered worth their price the American manufacturer and the American worker suffer. The question becomes, “How can American businesses find value”?
Efficiency can be found by focusing on the end product versus the individual parts. The whole should be worth more then the sum of the parts and therefore cost containment alone wont arrest America’s decline in manufacturing supremacy. Value, from the vantage point of the consumer is the most important predictor of success. People are willing to pay more if they find the inherent worth of the product.
All too often manufacturing engineers put a magnifying glass on the efficiency of the processes. Even though this is important, the result is limited. The ultimate goal is to have wide customer appeal in order to sell more products. It is the total of the parts, functionality of the product, appearance coming from the design, and the quality of the final product that creates value. The total product versus its parts should maintain the focus.
As corporations consider improving their operations they should compare each process to the ultimate value of the product. If the process doesn’t contribute value then its expense should be cut out, minimized, and adjusted. By focusing on value, the American manufacturing industries can free themselves from the restrictive limitations of cost containment. They will be free to develop meaningful and value laden products that customers actually want.