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Nowadays, we think fast and cheap, but we don’t think quality!

A lady doing quality assurance compliance checks

In today's fast-paced world, speed and affordability have become key priorities for many people. From fast food to fast fashion, and trust in the quality in security and safety of technologies. We have become accustomed to getting what we want quickly and at a low cost. However, in our pursuit of speed and affordability, we often overlook the importance of quality and the sustainability of this.

A Reflection of History and Current Day

To reflect back to the 1970s as I was growing up we were fortunate to have had many simple pleasures and experiences. It seems that the expectations of quality in the market were vastly different from what they are today. Back then, I observed how proud my grandparents were to make their own produce, and the craftsmanship of their carpentry skills and how much they cared about their environment and how they used waste at a time when systems and infrastructure was still developing.

Businesses, their employees had the quality of skills to manufacture products were often viewed as being reliable and durable, with a focus on craftsmanship and longevity that has stood the test of time. Consumers expected products to last for years and were willing to pay a premium for high-quality goods.

There were companies vying for consumer interest in a rapidly growing marketplace. As such, many companies focused on product quality as a way to stand out and establish themselves as a trusted brand.

Quality refers to the degree of excellence or superiority of a product or service. It is a measure of how well something is made, how well it functions, and how well it meets our needs and expectations. Quality is essential in every aspect of our lives, whether we are buying products, using services, or interacting with other people.

Unfortunately, in our fast and cheap culture, quality often takes a back seat to speed and affordability. We prioritise getting things done quickly and at a low cost, even if it means sacrificing quality. This can have serious consequences, both for individuals and for society as a whole.

The pursuit of fast and cheap production has had a significant impact on both quality and sustainability in many industries.


In the 1980s, there was a shift in the market that changed consumer expectations around quality. With the advent of globalisation and the rise of low-cost manufacturing in developing countries, companies began to prioritise efficiency and cost-cutting over product quality. The focus shifted to producing products quickly and cheaply, with an emphasis on cost reduction and mass production.

This resulted in;

  • Lower quality products: In order to cut costs and produce goods quickly, many manufacturers have turned to low-quality materials and processes. This has resulted in products that are less durable and more prone to breaking or malfunctioning.

  • Increased product recalls: Poor quality control and rushed production schedules can lead to products being released into the market with defects or safety issues. This can result in costly recalls and damage to a company's reputation.

  • Lack of innovation: A focus on cost-cutting and efficiency can lead to a lack of investment in research and development, resulting in fewer innovations and slower progress in product design and quality improvement.

This approach led to a decrease in quality across many industries, as manufacturers sought to cut corners to meet demand and maximise profits. Consumers began to expect lower prices for goods, and as a result, many companies shifted their focus towards producing low-cost products that were not designed to last.

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  • Increased waste: Cheaply produced products are often disposable and not designed for long-term use, leading to a significant increase in waste. This is especially true in industries such as fashion, where fast fashion has led to a culture of disposable clothing.

  • Environmental impact: The use of low-quality materials and processes can result in higher levels of pollution and resource consumption. This is especially true in industries such as electronics and manufacturing, where the production of cheap products often involves the use of harmful chemicals and practices.

  • Labour conditions: To produce products quickly and cheaply, many manufacturers rely on low-wage workers in developing countries. This often leads to poor working conditions and exploitation of workers doing long hours whilst remaining in poor living standards.


In todays climate we are seeing a renewed focus on quality in many industries.

There has indeed being a push for companies to do no harm, this includes improved labour conditions, wages, equality, ethics, fair trade practices, anti slavery laws and just and fairness in human rights across many countries. Whilst there is still more work to be done on this, the same can be said for catastrophic environmental impacts and waste management systems.

It really is up to everyone to play their part. Consumers, investors, shareholders and the like as to where and who they spend their money with, where they have a moral conscience. Who are sustainability warriors of putting boundaries up when there is unacceptable acts, and rightfully becoming increasingly aware of the impact their purchases have on the environment and are looking for products that are sustainable and built to last. As a result, companies are once again prioritising quality, with a focus on producing products that are both durable and environmentally friendly.

I leverage data to make informed decisions, that ensure your systems are ISO compliant, and work with your team to build a culture that fuels your business's success and even achieve ISO certification and complete business solutions. Contact now for a free 15 minute discussion as together we can help with your success in business.

Author Catherine Halse. All rights reserved. 2023©

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