Global competition is placing new emphasis on some basic tenets of business. The power in the marketplace is shifting from a seller’s market to customers, who have more choices because there are more companies competing for their attention. More competition, more choices, puts more power in the hands of the customer, and that, of course, drives the need for quality. Gone are the days when the customer’s knowledge was limited to one or at best just a few different products. Today the customer knows what is best, cheapest, and highest quality. It is the customer who defines quality in terms of his or her needs and resources.
American products have always been among the world’s best, but competition is challenging us to make even better products. In most global markets the cost and quality of a product are among the most important criteria by which purchases are made. For consumer and industrial products alike, the reason often given for preferring one brand over another is better quality at a competitive price. Quality, as a competitive tool, is not new to the business world, but many believe that it is the deciding factor in world markets. However, we must be clear about what we mean by quality.
Quality can be defined on two dimensions: market-perceived quality and performance quality. Both are important concepts, but consumer perception of a quality product often has more to do with market-perceived quality4 than performance quality. In a competitive marketplace where the market has choices, most consumers expect performance quality to be a given. Naturally, if the product does not perform up to standards it will be rejected.s When there are alternative products, all of which meet performance quality standards, the product chosen is the one that meets market-perceived quality attributes.
The core component consists of the physical product—the platform that contains the essential technology—and all its design and functional features. It is...
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