Monday, April 8, 2013

(Chinese) Food for Thought

With a growing concern for sustainable practices and the United Nation’s move to enforce carbon trading, many brands will be forced to reassess their environmental implications through cost increases, financial redevelopment and re-branding with ethics. Businesses everywhere have been subject to prosecution for unethical practices for many decades, but is there a new growing global concern and a need for businesses to assess the implications China will have on branding in the future.
China is now the world’s second largest economy, averaging a growth rate of 10 % per year over the last three decades. The real crunch is this; China’s manufacturing/export industry, a barometer for the global economy, will not see any forced or agreed decrease, however analysts agree China’s economy will only be remedied long term through reform, that being, a consumption driven economy. Too many economies are too far in to pull out now.

There are too many politics in play for China to ever in the near future fall into decline, this is for sure. China is for now at least, a ‘fixed variable’ for the world economy. Every business trading with China will be forced to work backwards to ensure ethical practice. But to what point will this become of great community concern? Cast your mind back to the days when manufactured goods in China were synonymous with inferior quality. Today, quality is not the key concern with Chinese manufacture, but are the correct sustainability measures in place and enforced? Will there be transference of concern? China and many other developing nations will move from the ‘country of origin effect’ to suffering from new consumer whiplash.

Will ethics soon leverage a bigger share in branding? Micro business externalities are adding up and it’s now of worldwide concern. Each economy can only move so far with given resources and dancing with the global economy will force China to address not only its own concerns and behavior, but also the global community’s. As corporations fall liable to increasing sanctions and community concern, early adoption of these business-rethinks may be a gate to be passed by many businesses in the near future. Consumers keep brands alive and destroy them, we’re unable to tip toe around a growing truth.

In Australia, and worldwide, China has been vertically integrating heavily, buying companies operating in many sectors of the economy, leading to short term cost reduction measures, questionable transparency and large domestic land purchases. I am not opposed to China’s economic movements, but I do believe it is a responsibility to map the ethical practices of investment spending against any brand, especially in the years coming. 

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