So much of our stuff is made in China now that it’s almost inescapable. Maybe your phone, your TV, many of your tech gadgets, even some of your furniture could be made in China and there's nothing wrong with that (except that some of us might prefer that some Chinese workers get treated a little better). There's been an exodus of manufacturing to China in many industries and when global companies move their manufacturing base there they work closely with the Chinese to set up factories and oversee production and quality right down to the finest detail. In many of these cases China is capable of true excellence - but this article is not about that kind of collaborative manufacturing.
There's another side to Chinese manufacturing that many of us are also familiar with and that's their prolific tendency to copy existing products and concepts. When solely Chinese manufacturers do produce lookalike products, they sometimes get it right with the way an item actually looks, but they have been known to get it quite wrong with quality and the way it performs. We've been approached by several Chinese exporters offering us products over the years and so far we haven't found one that's fit for the level of quality that we prefer to offer our customers. We certainly wouldn't offer copied products in any case.
Almost all the original high quality examples of low speed Masticating Juicers originate from high tech manufacturers based in South Korea, a country renowned for the quality of its engineering. Single Auger and Twin Gear Masticating Juicers were originally developed there. We trust Korea to manufacture our cars and build our ships, and their success in the manufacture of cutting edge technology has given them world leader status. Korean manufacturers offer genuine support for their extensively tested products and have independently verifiable quality standard accreditation. They are used to dealing with renowned western brands and meeting western expectations and they tend not to cut corners. That is not often the case with exclusively Chinese versions. It can be a confusing picture because some Korean manufacturers as well as western ones do collaborate very successfully with Chinese factories..
Imitation Is The Sneakiest Form of Flattery
There are fewer barriers to Chinese imports in today's truly global marketplace and many Chinese exporters find it easy to offer almost identical copies of established manufacturers' concepts and sell them to businesses worldwide. Apart from lower overall production costs, the Chinese version has no research and development costs to recoup, because they've simply taken the concept that someone else has already invested in developing. They make small adjustments to designs, possibly in the hope of making their juicer just different enough to evade intellectual property law suits. This may be perfectly legal in many cases, but does that make it OK?
How Do They Get Away With It?
It can be very difficult for manufacturers to protect their intellectual property rights against Chinese imitators. It's often uneconomic to try to prosecute a manufacturer directly, so in the case of violations it is sometimes the sellers further down the line that might find themselves getting the nasty surprise of being sued. Many potential breaches go unchallenged simply because the cost of pursuing damages across multiple borders is too high. In some cases manufacturers want to get their products to market without waiting for pending patents, or without protecting every single component of their design, leaving potential loopholes for the copycats to exploit. Some of our reputable suppliers of high quality juicer brands are very worried about the losses they have suffered because of lookalike Chinese products. New name badges appear on these cheap juicers all the time and the same juicer can often be seen with several different names, on several different websites. Chinese juicers often fuel early obsolescence for the branded models that they imitate, as the original manufacturers keep re-skinning and updating their juicers to stay one step ahead of the inevitable Chinese copies that will arrive on the scene to capture their sales.
The 'whole slow juicer' concept by Korean manufacturer Kuvings has been widely copied, as have early Hurom and Omega slow juicer models. These imitators are easy to spot, because you find that when someone has put a brand name on a Chinese copy, they are often only offering that one brand of juicer for sale, rather than a range of products from multiple brands. They often make disingenuous claims about the products they offer, with unfair comparisons to well known brands, even going so far as comparing to the same brands that their copies imitate. They also advertise on google using the keywords from the original brands that have been copied. This is known as 'Parasitic Marketing' in the trade - a term that seems very appropriate. These products have a massively cheaper factory gate price than the originals, but that saving is is not reflected in the price charged to the consumer, giving these parasites a huge advertising budget from their massive markups. With profit margins that we would consider obscene, they can then feed off the original brands, using parasitic marketing tactics to suck away sales from the host. We named one of these 'parasites' in an earlier version of this article and they didn't like it at all, threatening to use some of their massive profit margin to take us to court.
What's Wrong With Buying Chinese Juicers?
There is nothing 'wrong' with looking to save money by buying a cheaper juicer. Even if you are untroubled by the moral argument against Chinese imitators (and their sellers over here) cashing in on the product development investments of the original brands, there are still a number of other things to consider.
We wouldn't suggest for a moment that all Chinese juicers are bad. China makes some great products as we said earlier and when a juicer brand in the west collaborates closely with a Chinese factory the results can be excellent. However, we've received many samples of exclusively Chinese juicers over the years and the difference in quality is often immediately obvious to us, so even if we were untroubled by potential issues over the design, to date we still don't generally see many of them as representing the best long term value for our customers.
The plastics in some samples we've received feel thinner and cheaper and they might be spray painted instead of manufactured from different colours of plastic in the first place. We once had a Chinese juicer sample sent to us that immediately started to melt its own wiring when we plugged it in. Fake European safety certification is another issue that is rife in China. The motors can be noisier in some cases, with more vibration, and in our opinion the lifespan of these products is unlikely to match that of the type of high quality juicers that originate in South Korea. The motor is the beating heart of your juicer and you want a good quality example. Some of our customers come to us to upgrade when their Chinese made juicers have broken down after a relatively short lifespan. We sometimes see cheap motors with reduction gearing being used in Chinese samples, instead of the heavy duty low speed motors present in better quality Masticating Juicers from Korea. You might also wonder about product support? Is it likely to be there later on? Are the guarantees offered likely to be any more than a marketing ploy that can be avoided with the 'fair wear and tear' or 'user error' argument later on? Will the brand still be around for you to contact when their cheap juicer fails? Can you get telephone support from the seller? We think these can all be valid consumer concerns when choosing a juicer.
Why Pay More?
In our opinion the old saying 'buy cheap and buy twice' can be applied to a lot of Chinese Slow Juicers out there. By choosing a reputable brand like Omega or Kuvings instead, we believe there are many benefits included in the price. A quality branded juicer may easily outlive and outperform Chinese copy juicers, saving you money in the long term. The well known western brands who market the original South Korean-made Masticating Juicers usually have a proud history of customer service and support, offer great warranty backup for the full life of the juicer, and have easily accessible contact points in many countries. And if you order from a reputable company like UK Juicers, we are only ever a phone call away and we are passionately committed to ensuring our customers are completely happy with their purchase!