During an episode of ABC’s The Shark Tank, an inventor with a clever add-on item for a pickup truck bed was making his pitch to the sharks. Several of them were interested in his item, but when he told them his retail price was $599, their jaws nearly hit the ground,
They told him the price was way too high for a consumer item, recommending his price should be about $199. When they suggested that he manufacture his invention in China, he demurred, saying he was committed to “creating jobs in America, not in China.”
The reality is that he would never create jobs anywhere if his costs, and therefore retail prices, were too high for the market to bear. This is precisely the reason that so many products are manufactured in China.
Can You Trust Chinese Manufacturers?
For many inventors, manufacturing in China presents a troubling conundrum: they know they must manufacture in China to create an enticing product at an enticing price for consumers – but can they really trust Chinese manufacturers? I manufactured my product in China for over 8 years and my answer is a qualified ‘yes’ – you can trust your Chinese manufacturers.
Chinese manufacturers are experts at working with specs or samples of a product and, from that, being able to manufacture the product in large volumes for an economical price. Furthermore, over the last 3 decades, they have build up an impressive infrastructure to support massive manufacturing of a wide spectrum of products that is unrivalled in the world. They are great at building things, but not talented in designing packaging, implementing marketing strategies, distributing into retailers – all the things that must be done to make a product successful in the marketplace. They are masters at building large quantities of product to spec and delivering them FOB (freight on board) to a single location – typically Hong Kong or the nearest Chinese port.
The Enemy Lies Within
Lest anyone think I am naïve – I am fully aware that inventions are knocked off every day. My product, the Wonder Wallet has had numerous knock offs. Needless to say, the knock off products are manufactured in China, but the real culprits aren’t in China, they are in the US.
A friend of mine, Josh Malone, has enjoyed huge success with his product, Bunch o Balloons, but, he has spent much time in court fighting infringers in this country – details on that are here. He has filed suit against Telebrands for infringing and Bed, Bath, and Beyond for selling a knock off product.
The tiny fraction of inventions that become very successful become easy prey to infringers looking for ‘quick money’ by knocking off a product that sells very well. The Chinese manufacturers are in most cases merely unwitting accessories to infringement of patented products. The criminals are the US companies that put everything into motion knowing full well they are illegally infringing an existing, patented product.
Ultimately, I would much rather take the chance that I may create a product so successful that infringers come out of the woodwork than to cower in fear that someone might steal my precious invention – and own 100% of nothing.