For Germans quality is primarily technical. In the sense of the four product characteristics mentioned above and others. They strive to go beyond the expectations and standards of the market. In every German engineer you‘ll find a scientist, an inventor, a tinkerer, in some ways also an artist. Quality is of such importance that it is not immediately placed in relation to price.
For Americans quality is always a function of price. In fact, in the U.S. market it‘s all about value, about the relation of performance to price. Quality, in the technical sense, is an important product characteristic. But it is only one of several characteristics.
Germans clearly view their products as possessing higher quality than American products. They are a proud people, especially proud of their engineers, and of the products they develop, manufacture, and market successfully worldwide.
Americans would agree that Germans products are of very high technical quality. At the same time, they are considered to be high- even over-priced. Secondly, the American market allows for products of differing quality levels: high, low, and in between. Companies can be very profitable in the U.S. with products of average quality.
Advice to Germans and Americans
This is a critical discussion. It is a sensitive, at times highly charged, topic. It goes to the heart not only of the two respective product philosophies, but also of the two engineering cultures. Enter into dialogue about quality. Define it. Is it based on purely technical standards? On the needs of the market? Who is driving those expectations? You on the product creation side or your customers?