It’s back. From a spotlight on prime-time network news to mentions in the recent State of the Union address, Made in America is a catchphrase that is making a comeback. Like U.S. manufacturing itself, it has a new luster, capturing the attention of Americans who see homegrown production as the country’s best hope for revitalizing the economy and putting people back to work.
The timing couldn’t be better. With wage and fuel costs rising in Asia and risks increasing in overseas markets, the U.S. is regaining its appeal as the preferred location for making and exporting products. Domestic manufacturers like Caterpillar, Ford and others are bringing operations back to the U.S., as reshoring grows and exports across the country rise in value.
Apple was recently applauded for its plans to bring a portion of its Mac production back home. Other companies, especially those that mostly make products in the U.S., are heavily promoting their American-made status, as a recent Advertising Age article notes. Brands like American Apparel and New Balance display Made in America monikers prominently on their websites, while others like Club Monaco are launching product lines marketed specifically as “Made in the USA.”
Retailers are even jumping on board, showing support for U.S.-made products and publicly committing to sell more of them. Walmart recently announced its intention to spend an extra $50 billion on American-made merchandise over the next decade. Two-thirds of what the retailer spends to stock its shelves already goes toward items “made, sourced and grown in the U.S.,” according to the company. Much of that is food, since Walmart is the nation’s largest grocer. The new batch of funds will go toward items it typically purchases overseas like apparel, sporting equipment and furniture.
Starbucks helped bring jobs back to a dwindling pottery industry in East Liverpool, Ohio, thanks to its partnership with American Mug, a local manufacturer it tapped to make coffee cups for Indivisible merchandise it designed to benefit its Create Jobs for the USA Fund.
More Consumers Buying American
More than 80 percent of U.S. consumers expressed a willingness to pay more for products with “Made in the USA” versus “Made in China” labels, according to a recent study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, which polled more than 5,000 consumers in the U.S., China, Germany and France.
Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed reported choosing American-made products over less expensive Chinese goods at least once in the past month. Two-thirds of respondents said they would pay anywhere from 10 to 60 percent more for merchandise ranging from baby food and appliances to electronics and apparel produced in the U.S.
Surprisingly, 60 percent of Chinese consumers included in the survey said they would pay 10 to 80 percent more for U.S.-made goods. Nearly 50 percent in this group said they preferred a product made in the U.S. to a China-made product of equal price and quality.
Quality, Patriotism Key Motivators
Quality appears to be the overriding concern for U.S. and Chinese consumers buying American. More than 80 percent in both groups said they felt better about Made in the USA quality. Patriotism was another consideration for U.S. consumers, with 93 percent claiming they would pay more for American-made goods if they knew it would help keep jobs in the U.S.
With the value of the Made in the USA brand growing, companies that emphasize and enhance their American-made status are poised to benefit — not just at home, but also in the global market, noted Harold Sirkin, co-author of the BCG study.
“These findings suggest that there’s a big opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to command a price premium by promoting the Made in USA brand—not only in the U.S. but also in China,” Sirkin said. “Retailers may want to adjust their strategies to capitalize on the strong consumer interest.”
What’s your view? Should more companies be touting their Made in America status? How can they best use this distinction to set themselves apart? Please share your thoughts below — or download our white paper, Reshoring U.S. Manufacturing: A Wave of the Present, for more insight on why companies are moving operations back to the U.S.