The Emergence of Hot Tubs Made in China and Why!
Updated: Apr 30
When Chairman Mao Zedong ruled China from 1949 until 1976, we are sure that the notion of China being a world leader in hot tub manufacturing never entered his mind. We’d be surprised if many in China knew what a hot tub is, let alone how to make one. The rise of China from a poor, stagnant country to a significant economic power within such a short period is often described by analysts as one of the greatest success stories in present times. China is the world's largest manufacturing economy and exporter of goods. It is also the world's fastest-growing consumer market and second-largest importer of goods. China is a net importer of services. It is the largest trading nation globally and plays a prominent role in international trade. China has mastered mass production and has manufacturing bandwidth that the world has never seen. Make no bones about it; China can make about anything, faster, leaner, and almost certainly cheaper. The enormous scale of their workforce and the vast quantities of their products allow China’s manufacturers to keep costs low and quality high.
Hot tubs began in southern California in the 1970s and slowly grew in popularity over time. Hot tubs have become an international product like cars and phones. In the beginning, North American and European hot tub businesses were lured to China to produce parts and accessories such as jets, hot tubs covers and steps at lower costs. Over time, factories in China began to make hot tub pumps, cabinet panels, frames, pipes, skimmers, and a wide range of other crucial hot tub components. These parts and components are produced and shipped to North American factories, which are used in the assembly process to reduce costs and help make their products more competitive in the marketplace. With numerous parts and pieces made in China, there should be no surprise that hot tub manufacturing began with the help of North American engineering and management expertise.
After the great recession in 2008, it wasn’t uncommon to see hot tub manufacturers from China at the major US and European hot tub trade shows. Hot tubs made in China lacked sizzle back then, but they have come a long way, and the products produced today are thoughtfully designed with the feedback and input from their customers around the world. The manufactures made significant investments in tooling to create a wide assortment of 2 person hot tubs, 4 person hot tubs, 6 person hot tubs and 8 person hot tubs with some fantastic interior layouts and designs. Due to the proximity of Australia and Europe, Chinese hot tub producers made significant inroads in these markets and rivalled the US and Canadian manufacturers for market share. Due to the pandemic, the global demand for hot tub production has fueled the Chinese factories to expand and increase production capacity to levels we have never seen before. The mass-produced hot tubs coming out of the factories are surprisingly reliable and very high quality, but most factories have little to no marketing collateral or expertise.
Smaller customers typically buy the domestic brand, which is basic from a brand and sales collateral standpoint. It is challenging for smaller companies to compete with the products as they must create and assemble their own brand marketing strategy. Larger OEM customers with established distribution channels and brands can benefit dramatically as they can create intelligent print and digital marketing assets and communicate effectively with the end-user. Larger customers also benefit from buying hot tubs in bulk, which gives them a hot tub price advantage and makes them highly competitive. There are few hot tub manufacturers in Europe, but many in the USA and a some in Canada. These domestic manufacturers use domestic electronics and acrylic and parts and pieces from a global supply chain. Like automobiles, domestic hot tubs are made in the USA or Canada with numerous hot tub features and components from China and other countries worldwide. It is the reverse in China. The electronics and acrylic are imported from the USA or Canada, and then the parts and pieces are sourced domestically.
The management team at Northern Hot Tubs has many years of hot tub experience and has chosen an exclusive high-quality hot tub manufacturer in China. The reason is simple. The product is well-built, rock-solid and is expertly designed and assembled. The quality control procedure and checklist are stunning, and the fit and finish are pristine. Hot tub production volume and an abundance of hard-working and dedicated production staff result in a superb hot tub product that rivals any global brand. The ordering process and communication between the factory and our Canadian company is the best we’ve experienced. Not a lot goes wrong, which makes doing business simple. The hot tubs are very well packaged and protected, and when they land at our warehouse or dealers’ premises, they are in perfect shape and ready to ship to our customers. Hot tubs made in China are here to stay, and the products keep getting better and better. On occasion, we run into a customer who will not do business with us because our hot tubs are made in China. Even if they are made in China with electronics and acrylic made in the USA. We find it odd because they will buy a hot tub that is much, much more expensive that is made in the USA or Canada with numerous parts and pieces that are made in China!