The last few issues of Couch Analytics have excited many people, as I dared to encroach on sacred things, in particular their choice of products. And not just the choice of products, but the statement that the products do not differ in any way in most cases, and the same iPhone bought in Russia or in America will not differ, this is the same quality. From these discussions, another issue appeared, in which they talked about the fact that there are tricks of manufacturers when in different countries they give different recommendations for the dosage of the same washing powders.
The common thread in the comments is the thought that millions of people cannot be wrong, they are constantly traveling across borders to buy a better quality product. I will repeat a simple thought: one and the same plant does not know how to make products of different quality for each specific country, this destroys the technological chain. There are no products on the conveyor for certain countries in terms of quality, only the packaging may differ, in electronics it is also software. Although options are possible in electronics, the same Chinese factory is able to produce devices of different quality, just one customer monitors the quality, and the second looks at the components through his fingers. The output is two seemingly identical products, but the level of subsequent rejects differs significantly. Again, this is the exception rather than the rule, and this does not happen in large companies.
But many of the comments mentioned foodstuffs that differ strikingly from country to country, although they have the same names. Exactly the same references were made to washing powders, one causes an allergy in a child, but the other does not. Let’s try to figure out together how it turns out and what is the reason for this perception.
But it’s worth starting all the same with the factor of place and time, since it is decisive for the perception of any product, especially if we are talking about food. The best example would be considering wine, because if you exclude the falsification of the drink in the bottle, then the same year should be perceived the same in every corner of the world. But he is not perceived that way!
For example, you are in Spain and order a bottle of Albariño for seafood that you recently sailed in the sea, or choose red for lamb. It doesn’t matter for what reason you got there, whether it’s a business trip or a vacation. Surely your mood is completely different than at home, where the constant routine makes emotions muffled. A new place, a different weather – all this affects your perception of the world. It is possible that you are trying this wine for the first time and this is a new experience, not darkened by recognition from the past, – a blow to the senses. Your emotion is easy to remember, you will cherish and cherish these memories on long winter evenings. One day you will see the very same wine in the store next to your house and, of course, buy it. The same label, the same color in the glass, but something will be wrong, you will not recognize the wine and wonder why you liked it so much then.
We are always looking for the simplest explanations, and here it is obvious that the store near the house does not inspire much confidence, they changed the same wine, bought it is not clear where and it is not clear what. Few people go to swear about this, but remember their negative experience. Although here we are dealing with the factor of place and time.
The bottle contains exactly the same wine (storage and transportation conditions are taken out of parentheses, they can affect the contents of the bottle, but this rarely happens). It’s just that when you were in Spain, you had a completely different mood, different food (and who drinks wine just like that and without accompaniment?). All this affects your perception and appreciation of wine, even the air and water are different, they differ from those to which you are accustomed. And therefore, your ratings of local products will certainly be higher than those at home. Those who work with food products know firsthand about the factor of place and time, so they correct for it, coarse their ideas about the product for their home market. And this is exactly the same stereotype that everything is better THERE than HERE. It is typical for any country in the world and has a small number of exceptions. The consumer is accustomed to trusting products that are not made in his country to a greater extent, since he a priori believes that most of them here do not stand up to any criticism. And around everyone is exceptionally crooked, cross-eyed, and these people cannot create something of high quality.
For example, the BORK brand is Russian, but, like dozens of other brands from Russia, it is disguised as German. The buyer is ready to pay exorbitant prices for imported goods, but if it were the Bonus brand, and no one would have looked at it, they would have thought that the creators had gone crazy, since they wanted so much money for “ours”. The fact that “ours” is made in China would be the last thing people care about.
The perception of place greatly changes our idea of a product, and this is important to consider whenever we talk about a product. Which country produces the best yoghurts in the world? Just think about the answer to this question, it was asked for a reason in connection with our discussion.
We sorted out a little with the perception, now is the time to express sedition – food products differ, and very much, depending on the country of production. Different factories, different recipes, different tastes of customers (what was formed at the beginning is a question for discussion). Let’s take a simple product that is known all over the planet, such as Fanta. You know the taste, but in every country you will feel some differences, somewhere the drink will be sweeter, somewhere it will even seem cloying. Look at the plate.
In Europe, the sugar content in Fanta is minimal, in North America and Southeast Asia, it is maximal. Typically, beverage factories are located in the regions where they are sold. Therefore, each plant establishes its own production recipe, taking into account local tastes. Formally, this is the same Fanta, in fact the taste will be different, and you can feel it.
Soda is technologically not the most difficult drink (even if the technologists do not throw eggs at me), so there is little that can be changed. Something that is not usually discussed, but also varies from country to country, is the degree of carbonation, how the drink will tickle your throat – harder or softer.
In the comments, they cited beer as an example, a drink with the same name has a fundamentally different composition at different plants. This is a history as old as the world, as each brewery uses local raw materials or tries to do so. Also, each brewery can “optimize” the recipe if the brand holder allows it. Such “optimization” affects the cost, as a rule, you can pocket a large profit.
The question of the same names is interesting, since often, in fact, different products are produced under the same brand, they have only one common component – the name. It is expensive to create a loud and familiar name to the consumer, and most importantly, it takes some time. Hence the desire to extract maximum profit. For example, the same brands of beer allow this, they do not care what the perception of their product outside the country of residence will be. And the receipt of royalties for the use of the brand is quite tangible, as well as the opportunity to say that we have entered new sales markets. Although formally only the name is presented there and nothing more.
Let’s return to washing powders, which many people like as an example. Many brands of laundry detergents have been around for decades – Tide, Ariel, and so on. The formula of the powder varies from country to country, depending on many factors, for example, the hardness of the water or the presence of chemical production with certain components. Each plant uses its own production formula, and for specific brands this can be up to a dozen different formulas per product name. But it is impossible to say that a product from country A is better than in country B – these are de facto different products, different formulas.
Back in the days of push-button phones, I was struck by the approach of Nokia and a number of other companies, they selected the color of the case depending on the region, for example, in Asia they were brighter colors, in Europe they were muted. At that time, such a topic was popular, customization of colors for a specific region, but then phones began to rapidly become cheaper, and this was abandoned. It was a product setting for a region. Today, electronics manufacturers don’t do anything like that.
Let’s go back to food, household chemicals and similar products. What unites them? The answer lies in the fact that these are products that are profitable to produce in the places where their consumers are located. The logistics of such products increases their cost and reduces the efficiency for the company. As a result, large international corporations are looking for local producers, yoghurt, washing powder or something else are produced at their facilities. The equipment at a third-party factory does not always allow you to keep the composition of the product unchanged (there are also local regulations, in one country of the world you can use such and such materials, somewhere not). For example, in Africa, phosphate fertilizers can be mixed with anything, since fertilizer cleaning is a separate technological process, and it costs a pretty penny. In the same Senegal, they do not bother with this and drive fertilizers with a high cadmium content. In Russia and Europe, such fertilizers are de facto prohibited, as they lead to soil pollution. This is a matter of “recipe”.
The confusion that arises in the minds of people when they discuss “the same” product with production in different countries is directly related to the organization of such production. In the FMCG segment, local production can not only differ, but differ, and very much. But there are always exceptions, like wine. Where, in turn, there are exceptions for bulk wine, which can be produced locally, in each country separately.
Consistent product quality can be produced within the same plant. But as soon as we have several factories, discrepancies in quality immediately arise, including for electronics (here the production culture, the absence of defects, and so on come to the fore). But if in electronics such differences are almost imperceptible, they are never striking, then in FMCG different factories are actually different products, but sold under the same name. And here lies the problem of all discussions of where yoghurt tastes better (in France, I vote for this country – but even then not all variants of yoghurts), we often discuss the same name, brand, but completely different products. And there is no universal formula for how to distinguish whether it is one product or different. The world is diverse and complex, it is not as straightforward as it might seem to someone. And you need to understand what is the difference between products that are produced in different countries under the same names. Whether the products are the same or not.
In no way do I pretend to be the ultimate truth with this material, this is just an invitation to think and see why the same products can be different. And remember, seeing an FMCG product – suspect it will vary depending on where it is manufactured.
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