I realized Chinese brands might be a reflection of their culture, which is like dating in the U.S. in the 80s, so when these companies lie and tell you that they are Japanese or a movie producer, that is their game.
As I wrote about in my previous article, if a person were to behave this way when it comes to dating, they would end up on the MTV show Catfished. Except maybe culturally being deceptive is not frowned upon because even in the U.S. during the 80s, you would often see this happen in movies and TV shows. The characters would pretend to be a doctor, an architect, or a Hollywood exec to get some booty.
Catfishing: “lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.”– Definitions from Oxford Languages.
When I Say:
- Made in China
- Made in Japan
- Made in the U.S.A
- (I’m an architect/doctor)
Each one of the countries of manufacture elicits a level of expectations to you, which is why one of the countries I am listing would rather have you think of their product is made elsewhere (or that you want people to think you are in some cool profession that you are not actually in).
Who Cares Where Something Is Made as Long as They Deliver on the Promise of What They Said They Would Do (Like Looking Like Your Pictures on a Dating App IRL).
That does not seem so hard to do, except these brands do not do that, which is at the heart of what I consult companies not to do. That is how simple what I do is, and the last two and half decades I spent building brands are typically all there is to what I do, which is managing expectations. If you say you will deliver said products or services, you simply have to come through. Otherwise, you are breaching the brand promise (just like if you are also older, balding, married, and you’re not an architect).
“Integrity” and “Culture.”
Oxford languages defines:
- Integrity: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.”
- Culture: “the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.”
Is it the individual or is it the culture of these businesses, and am I being American in my way of thinking because in many countries, price haggling is common place which is the pretense of this sort of transaction although it’s just happening online nowadays (just like internet dating vs the vegetable aisle of your local grocery store).
“Thanks Idiot For Being So Stupid and Buying Into Our B.S.”
To these companies/individuals, it is more of a game that they they are the smart ones, and you are the idiot. This dynamic is all put to the test if they can get your money (or in your pants).
Ignorance is Bliss.
I do not know about you, but regardless if I am happy about the product or service, who would want to be in a relationship dynamic built on deception? Yes, I know people raised to price haggle (or a ho), and I suppose if they never find out, don’t care, or they just exemplify the adage “ignorance is bliss,” then enjoy those knives because that is what it comes down to (just don’t come crying when you get kicked to the curb).
The reason why they are raking in the cash is that many of us are complacent idiots, myself included, and I say that because there is only so much you and I could focus on. So many times, we as consumers rely on the integrity of the seller. Without it, we are the innocent doe-eyed calf in the hands of the wolf.
That Finally Leads Me to the Brands With Potentially Questionable Integrity.
Many of these websites and brands utilize the same basic template, along with the same product photography, and the only difference is the logo (they have a thing for brands that start with the letter “k”).
There is no way this a complete list because the individuals behind these companies keep coming up with new names, so if you have a new one or you are unsure, either leave a comment or contact me.
Tactics Employed by Deceptive Companies
- Japanese sounding brand name or product line.
- Playing off of Japanese steel, or industry related brands, to culture.
- Utilizing Japanese knife styles to imply the country of manufacture.
- No blatant “Made in ______” information.
- Using the word “Japanese” throughout marketing collateral.
- The same or similar product photography (generic with no brand name).
- Emphasis on pricing and always on sale.
- Careful wording “Japanese styled,” “inspired by” to “an homage to Japanese knives.”
- Some products are just looking the part because they use a “laser Damascus pattern engraved on the surface.”
- They do not just sell these knives as Japanese, and they may be sold as an American, European, Middle Eastern, or whatever brand they can come up with.
- No “About Us” or no details about the company.
- E-commerce/online sales only.
- Not sold or serviced by 3rd party retailers.
- Highlighting “handmade,” yet many large Japanese companies nowadays mass produce product.
- Paid or compensated for positive reviews to bloggers and vloggers.
- No modesty with their “Customer Reviews.” One website cites 106 5-star reviews with only 1 4-star review.
- They tout limited availability due to low production output, yet in the “shipping and delivery” section they say “we are very rarely out of stock in our US warehouse.”
- Many companies only allow you to return it if you did not open it so it must be in the original packaging.
- They also will not guarantee that they received your returned item unless you purchase shipping insurance.
- Products are listed and sold on the Chinese site AliExpress.
I have abbreviated a few of these tactics down a little, but you can read a number of the additional details on my other post. I suggest you read it because these tactics are considered business as usual in China, and now I know why Chinese friends would spend tens of thousands of dollars on high-end brands in the U.S., they do it because they do not trust buying it in China.
Typically No Physical Address
Oddly, Kyoku has an address, and they say they are located in Lake Forest. Fortunately, I used to work in Lake Forest which is why I looked them up because I’m familiar with the area. The tiny office park they say they are located in does not show that they are there, and only their website lists the address, but Google Places or Google Maps does not.
Types of Steel Claimed or Marketed Being Used.
The tactic employed here is that they either tweak the name slightly or they really do use the steel although they are not always the high grade they tout them to be, and if you want more information about the types, Wikipedia.org (list of blade materials) of course has an in-depth listing of each one. Not to mention, if you were to Google each one, the country of origin comes up quite often such as with 7cr17.
Are the Knives Any Good?
Yes, although it also all depends on how you define “good,” but for the average joe who is not that particular, a lot of these brands will be great for you as long as you do not try to hold the companies to the expectations they have set (implying that they are Japanese made by a Japanese company/blacksmith). That is the only reason I am writing about it is that many of these brands are out to trick you, and if I had a female friend who you introduced to one of your man whore friends, you would give her the heads up too.
The Potential Downsides of Buying Any of These Products.
- Being catfished: Like Forrest Gump’s mom said “you never know what you are going to get (what you are told, might not match what you get).”
- Inconsistent: product quality may vary, and you may have gotten a product on a day when the dude just wasn’t feel’n it that day.
When in Doubt, Turn to the True Knife Enthusiasts.
It is hard to beat the resource of having a community of knife enthusiasts from the casual home cook to the chef with decades of experience to the cutlery enthusiast that knows every aspect of of knives from the metals, forging etc, that is why you should use:
What Up Playa.
So this could all be a cultural thing, and if you get played, don’t hate the player, hate the game foo.