When making a product that lasts, one of the many critical areas where you cannot comprise is material quality. Plated plastic might be less expensive to work with, and synthetic leather might look like the genuine item, but neither will endure. When you look at companies like Gibson or Calphalon that have built highly successful businesses by selling products guaranteed to last, you’ll notice that they never compromise on material quality.
Beyond using the highest-quality materials, always look for ways to improve how your product is assembled, without sacrificing the important and often small design cues that make it special. When looking at Rolex’s manufacturing process, you’ll see that the company has invested in its own R&D team to focus specifically on making improvements in this area.
While startups might not be able to afford a dedicated staff to improve manufacturing processes, Rolex’s actions offer a clear indication of how even the world’s most successful companies don’t rest on their laurels when it comes to manufacturing.
Choose the best manufacturer, then, regardless of that company’s geographic location. To build a product that lasts a lifetime, make sure that everything is at the highest-quality threshold. Beyond using authentic and durable materials, choose a factory in the best geographic location for producing the product, whether that be in the United States, China, Italy, Germany or another country.
When we were looking for manufacturers to produce our first line of folded umbrellas, I learned that China had a tight-knit ecosystem of suppliers and assembly factories within several small provinces that made production extremely efficient. Yet, when we started making a line of traditional wood shaft umbrellas, we decided to source the wood from Italy and assemble the units in the U.K.
It might have made more economic sense to have all our production centralized in one region, but we chose manufacturing facilities for each model that would ultimately deliver the highest-quality products.
Don’t shy away from the costs associated with using the best manufacturer for whatever you’re making, even if that means having to charge a little bit more for your product than you initially expected. The people who will buy your product will do so because they would rather purchase one item that lasts than an endless stream of cheaper replacements.
Offer an unconditional lifetime guarantee.
Despite your best efforts to create a durable product, you’ll still have the occasional defect. Adding an unconditional lifetime guarantee that extends the product’s reliability beyond its normal shelf life shows customers just how much you stand behind your product’s durability.
Le Creuset and Briggs & Riley are great examples of successful brands that offer an unconditional lifetime warranty, essentially guaranteeing that customers will have a great experience using their products for decades. They understand the implicit agreement: If customers pay the right price, they will get something that stands the test of time.