Today, the label Made in Germany, is enjoying the highest reputation among customers. With Made-In-Country-Index (MICI) – a study on the global reputation of products produced in 50 different countries (plus the EU), published this year and conducted by Statista (a market research and business intelligence portal) – placing products manufactured in Germany at the top of consumer preferences.
According to the study, Germany tops the world’s most respected Made In labels, followed by Switzerland, the EU, and the UK, whereas China– and Iran-made products come at the bottom.
And furthermore, the overall popularity of the Made in Germany label took the number one spot in 25% of the nations surveyed.
Ironically, when introduced, the label aimed to mark cheap, often counterfeited goods, produced in Germany, to nowadays stand for quality, efficiency and precision.
The 1871 unification of Germany, came at a time when the German Empire was still fairly agricultural, yet having advantageous manufacturing conditions, low wages and production costs, which coming together resulted in the mass production of goods, labelled by the British policy-makers as: “tending to be cheap, of low quality, and often imitating national products.”
In an attempt to protect its economy from cheap counterfeit foreign goods and to encourage British buyers to buy British, the Parliament adopted The Merchandise Marks Act 1887: With Special Reference to the Importation Section, aimed to ensure that all foreign products – which could potentially threaten the success of British merchandise – were branded with a label of origin, though particularly targeting German-made products: “a trade description in the English language which could in any way be taken to convey the idea that the goods to which it is applied are of British make, would require a counter-statement to show that the goods were made abroad. Similarly, words such as “Mode de Paris,” which might be taken to indicate a French origin, would be illegal if the goods were of German make. This section, which lays down that the indication as to origin is to be placed immediately before or after the name of the place or country indicated in the trade description, and in an equally conspicuous manner, and with a statement such as ” made in Germany.”
As a result, the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks of 1891, saw each member nation of the pact agreeing to use its own Made in … label.
What was initially intended to label low quality, actually stimulated German manufacturers to aim at higher quality production standards and as noted by the British journalist, E.E. Williams, in his 1896 book Made in Germany: “What is resented the most is that it counts as a free endorsement of German products.”
The First World War, found merchandise marked as Made in Germany banned from sale on markets controlled by the British and their allies, and the outcome of the Second World War backfired at German economy, but it was during the post-war period, when consumers started favouring the German post-industrial custom-tailoring produce of good quality.
The division of Germany, naturally, led to the 1973 ruling of the German Federal Court of Justice that Made in Germany does not enable people to properly distinguish between the two Germanys of the time, so Made in West Germany and Made in GDR (East Germany) became popular, to collectively give the start of Germany’s rise to become the third world’s leading exporter nowadays (after China and the USA).