There's a fasicnating article out today in the UK Telegraph about the future of the English mecca of china-manufacturing, Stoke-On-Trent. Formerly the home and production center of such china stalwarts as Wedgwood Chinese Flowers and Spode Chelsea Garden, the decline of this area'a manufacturing base was steep and precipitous.
However things are looking up, according to the article. China companies are beginning to move manufacturing back to England, realizing one essential truth in the china and tableware market: China is a luxury item. If all it boils down to is price, if the target market is for those who can't (or won't) pay a dollar more than necessary, then the battle is already lost, the war futile. There is no way Wedgwood, Lenox, Royal Crown Derby and Spode can compete with Wal-Mart or Target.
Nor do they have to. Fine china adds a premium to a family meal and it is that premium that customers are willing to pay for. That added value requires craftsmanship and attention to detail, often found better in England and the US, with it's centuries-long tradition of china-making then in the assembly lines of the Far East.
It is true that the china market is not as big as it once was. The dominance it once had is but a distant memory. So there is a need to adjust, to recalculate and focus on the substantial market that still remains. A market that values quality and art and willing to pay for it.