Safe toys to cost more — but not this ChristmasTesting costs won’t hit till after, and could increase as much as ten percent
The issue is this, why are people shocked at the quality of cheaply produced products. Companies in the US are under enormous pressure to keep proces low and quality high at the same time. That is an impossible equation to acheive. Either its cheap, or its high quality… that is why high quality items cost more, you are paying for the time and attention to detail to ensure its of the highest standards and craftsmanship. We all have become too spoiled to consider the results of our actions to have it both ways, to do so is playing with fire and when 80% of the worlds toys are made in one place (China) then it is not unlikely something bad will slip through. Where am I going with this? Well, we can’t blame an increase on toy prices for companies to ensure quality control programs on companies and governments.
We the consumer tell companies what our price ranges for a product is each time we buy something. In the 1980’s we voted for offshore and cheap textiles buy buying Mexican and Asian produced clothes, therefore closing American textile mills nation wide. We voted for Chinese made toys for the past 10 years by buying mainly cheaper and lower quality goods at discount retailers. Companies are in the job of making money. Companies are responsible to their share/stake holders to keep productivity hight, costs low, and expenses balances so maximum gains can be acheived, increasing worker salaries, shareholder dividends, and expanding by developing new products and facilities to meet future demands. This is a market based economy formula tried, tested, and proved over hundreds of years of application. So when you get that cheap Barbie doll made in China over the expensive alternative one made in Europe you have told both companies which one is the winner and will survive to next year and which one is the loser and will have to go out of business.
Now we have seen what happens with bargin basement manufactoring becomes mainstream in our consumer goods markets. Why is it now that we feel justified in paying 10% extra for safety is a disservice from the company to us, the consumer?
"A 10 percent average increase would be the biggest one-time price hike in toys in several years, analysts say. And it’s more than twice the government’s measure of consumer inflation of 4.7 percent during the first seven months of this year" This is complaigning! "Shoppers have become accustomed to cheap playthings from China because Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other discounters have waged cost-cutting campaigns. Critics say real safeguards were sacrificed to keep prices low" So is this. "I will pay more (for toys) because I know it will ensure safety," said Lisa Sallese, a Wilton, Conn., mother of a 7-month-old boy and a 2-year-old daughter. "But it stinks. It should have been safe to begin with." And thank you Mrs. Sallese… you have voted for cheap toys for the past 2+ years with your purchases and only NOW are you complaining?
Sure companies are obligated to make safe products, and compeled to do so for survival of reputation and brand, however when we tell them we only care about price, via shopping patterns and customer complaints and surveys then who is ultimately to blame. The companies enlisted too much trust on the local factories, who they pressure to keep costs to a bare minimum, who in turn have to use sub-contractors to gain market competitive supplies. In American we all have a voice, and by rejecting that Barbie for a different brand made someplace else then the companies will begin to see the trend and follow it. It is not the companies leading us around like a blind person to cheap and bad quality items, it is US, the consumer, who throws out the stick the group of dogs chase after. Companies follow market trends, a business case for new items is too risky for many to try to trailblaze on their own. This mess is our own. I am not the only person who realizes this either. In US News and Weekly Reports recent articles I found this: China Isn’t the Villain Behind Dangerous Imports, or TreeHugger’s Barbie, Don’t Blame China and this one has some good comments at the bottom, or Forbe’s Toying with China.
So whats a consumer to do? Start a new trend. Sure it will cost more, it will be hard to do, with 80% of American’s toys made in China now, but it is possible. Tell you friends, neighbors, make flyers, sponser flea markets or bazzars. If you really are concerned do something or continue to do what you were doing in the past. There are books, blogs, and websites devoted to alternatives out there, and they are easy to find now. As a consumer you don’t have to follow everyone elses trends, but if you go it alone be ready to open that wallet. There are reasons Italian hand made cars cost more then many people’s homes… because you are paying for quality you can’t get from Detroit or Japan (yes, I know most cars are still made in America and all through the Southeast now). Mass production will always be less. We can’t expect Rolex quality for Casio prices in all our goods.