Quality seal with a history

'Made in Germany' changed from a reference to inferior products to a recognized quality label. Here you can read why.

Automated manufacturing – industry with a high reputation.
Automated manufacturing – industry with a high reputation. Nataliya Hora - stock.adobe.com

We asked our international community: "What is typically German?" We present the most common answers – with explanations and background information. This time: "Made in Germany"

Did the Germans invent their own seal of approval?
No, and in the beginning 'Made in Germany' was in fact the exact opposite of a seal of quality. This designation of origin was prescribed by the British Parliament in 1887 to identify 'inferior' goods from German industrial production for English consumers. 'Cheap and bad' was thus the first association with 'Made in Germany'. Over the years, it has developed into a seal of quality that is understood by international consumers as an indication of high-quality products.

What are the criteria for being awarded the trademark?
According to surveys, 'Made in Germany' is one of, if not the most respected designation of origin in the world. However, unlike a real seal of quality or a standard it is not subject to fixed rules. Manufacturers themselves decide whether to label their product in this way. However, German courts have ruled that products with this label must at least be assembled in Germany. And more than half of the parts used should also come from Germany.

Trade fair in Munich: exhibition of construction machinery and cranes.
Trade fair in Munich: exhibition of construction machinery and cranes. picture alliance / Benjamin Beytekin

Where does the designation's international reputation come from?
The designation's reputation ultimately arose simply because products with this label were of high quality. This applied and still applies primarily to industrial products. By far the leading sectors in Germany as an exporting country are also the industries that are first associated with the 'Made in Germany' sign: mechanical engineering and the automotive industry, which account for roughly a third of Germany's product sales abroad.

Share of German exports in 2019
Vehicles and vehicle parts           16.8%
Machinery          14.7%
Chemical products          8.9%
Computers, electrical
and optical equipment 8.9%

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