IMPROVEMENT IN QUALITY
One of the serious problems that even big Indian firms have is poor product quality. Although there are national quality standards for most products, it is not uncommon to come across instances where products with quality certification from one of the national agencies fail or are found unsafe for use. Indian consumers have been served poor quality products for long. However, this may not last and firms will have to seriously examine their product quality. The reasons are :
1. Increased competition from more efficient local Indian and transnational firms,
2. Consumer movement gaining ground in the country, especially after the Consumer Protection Act has been legislated, and consumer courts now regularly hear cases of unethical marketing practices or consumer injuries caused by a bad product.
Quality is the prerequisite to market leadership. Until now, Indian firms have used the statistical concept of quality: like number of rejects or returns. Based on this, they have claimed high quality standards. Most of them till now, have been related to product. But increasingly, firms are realizing that good product quality is not a statistical function but a function, of human resources and their attitude towards quality, raw materials, plant and machinery, work environment in the organization, hierarchies in the firm, relationships with trade channels and suppliers and a host of similar activities and relationships. Hence, firms are adopting the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM).
PIMS on Quality
The importance of quality in market leadership is best brought out by the Profit Impact of Marketing Strategy (PIMS) study. According to this study, quality is an effective tool to fight competition.
Quality has two overtones:
(a) Perceived quality— This is achieved by developing a set of product specifications and standards for service that meet customer needs better than competitors.
(b) Conformance quality— This is a function of specific product attributes, technology, plant and machinery, patents and the like.
Both these dimensions of quality contribute together to create a positive image of the firm in the customerâ€™s mind.