England in 1887 required all products imported from Germany to be labeled „Made in Germany.“ At the time German products were considered to be of substandard quality. Germany was a late-comer to the industrial revolution, much later than England. A famous German engineer admitted that German products were „cheap and nasty.“
Many were enraged, but it led to a national discussion and a quality offensive. At the beginning of the 20th Century, and especially in the post-World War II era, „Made in Germany“ took on a new meaning: high quality, newest technology. It became synonymous with West Germany‘s economic miracle of the 1950s.
The Germans recognized the importance of such a label, of the reputation of their products. They became particularly proud of their technical and economic achievements. Germans continue to view their products as having high quality, often as being the best in the world. From the early 1980s until recently Germany was the world‘s leading exporter.
The label “Made in Germany” is used less today than in the past, however. A minimum amount of a product’s parts must be produced in Germany before it can boast “Made in Germany.”
Modern German industrial and technology companies, however, have segmented their supply chains to include manufacturing sites and suppliers in many parts of the world. Nonetheless, the label “Made in Germany” remains a key, positive element in the self-understanding of every German.