Communicating Product Quality: Substance or Image?

Article

Seiben, Wanda A.   (1988, ASQC)   University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

Annual Quality Congress, Dallas TX    Vol. 42    No. 0
QICID: 3497    May 1988    pp. 661-665
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Article Abstract

Many products traditionally produced and consumed in the U.S. are now produced in other countries and consumed in the U.S. In some instances, producers in other countries have studied our market and defined products which fit in niches in the U.S. market. The end result has been international competition for U.S. markets. Generally, competition and a free-market system are considered essential for product performance in any society. A focus on being responsive to the market place and increasing product quality is a positive response to the challenge of imports.

The textile/apparel segment of the textile product pipeline has responded positively to the challenge, e.g. Quick Response and Just in Time programs. These programs are process oriented and designed to increase communication between the textile and apparel segments as well as to reduce response time in supplying products to the retailer. One apparel executive observed that the working relationship between textile mills and apparel producers has changed. Mills are more responsive to apparel producers and there is generally a good working relationship. This change in attitude was attributed to the current competition with imports. Extending this attitude and increased communications with the retail and ultimate consumer segments is also important to meeting the challenge from imports.

Some evidence exists that quality differences between domestic and imported apparel does not provide the incentive in some instances to sway consumer choices toward American goods. Therefore, it is not enough for producers to supply and/or improve the quality of their products. The quality message must be communicated. Only when the ultimate consumer is made aware of the quality attributes in a product can he/she effectively compare products and select that product which will provide value for them. Thus to facilitate consumer decision-making and post-purchase satisfaction communication is required. One industry response to import competition has been to wage a major campaign - Crafted with Pride in the U.S.A. A key question is whether this statement, Made in the U.S.A., or other forms of communication consists of substantive statements or is imagery. This paper will examine the availability of methods of communicating product quality to consumers. The extent to which consumer needs are identified and responded to quickly will be addressed. Recommendations will be made for improving channels of communication between the ultimate consumer and the producer.

Keywords

Textile and needle trades


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