This afternoon, I'd like to welcome Aptium Global's Tony Poshek to Spend Matters. Tony is our first guest contributor on the current China sourcing mayhem.
Ok, so I made the headline up ... it's not true (even though that's one ugly dog). But imagine for a second if it was. In today's media environment this would be a top news story for weeks, and there would be 100 times as many reports of "Should we boycott China?" that would come as a result. From poisoned dog food, to tainted toothpaste & toy trains, to unsafe tires, there have been quite a few China stories to grab the media's attention these days. There are the standard news stories from well-known sources such as this one from CNN: "Can tainted toys spark U.S.-China trade tiff?" But the U.S. hasn't been the only one, as here is a similar story from Japan Times: "Troubles with 'China Inc.'"
While there are many more stories like these from established news sources, these aren’t the most interesting ones. It's the smaller stories that deal with consumers actually trying to boycott products from China, such as this one, about a woman in the U.K.: "How one woman said 'No' to Chinese imports". And it's ones like this with local color: "U.S. family tries living without China". The family in this story has actually published a book entitled "A Year Without 'Made in China': One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy" which recently went on sale on Amazon.
Perhaps these last stories may not seem quite as impressive as others because they don't have names like The New York Times or Wall Street Journal behind them. But this is where all great consumer revolutions begin. If this "movement" does actually gain steam, and more consumers come into the fold, costing retailers such as Wal-Mart money, there will be a change in how products are bought and sold within corporations. It doesn’t matter if it's rational or not. If American consumers decided they don't like the color Red, and weren't going to buy products packed with that dreaded color, there would be almost immediate changes made by the corporations to appease them.
Now I'm not saying that I agree with this mentality (as I believe in global trade). But I do believe that Spend Matters readers might want to start thinking about what would happen to their supply-chain if this anti-China consumerism mentality were to grow larger (or smear campaign by the media, depending on your viewpoint). And if you think that's impossible, imagine for a minute if the news media had a story about one of the Bush daughters falling ill due to some tainted toothpaste from China, or if someone in Dick Cheney's family became sick due to these toy trains. The hysteria and "everyone panic" mentality of the news media would be overwhelming. Let's hope nothing happens to poor Paris Hilton's dog, and that her pet food is safe.
That's just my opinion, but maybe I'm paying too much.
Tony is a Director at Aptium Global. He can be reached via email: tposhek [@] aptiumglobal [dot] com.