How Important is the ‘Made in the USA’ Mark?
There is currently a significant movement to promote US manufactured products, both within America and overseas. The Made in the USA mark is something that many companies use as a strong selling point, whether they are making designer handbags or wholesale glass pipes, and it has been shown that many consumers have a preference towards American made items over imported goods, even when the products in question were designed and distributed by American companies.
But just why are American consumers interested in whether or not a product has the coveted Made in the USA mark, and what does it stand for? Do people in other markets also view the Made in the USA mark as a positive when choosing things to buy? Here, we take a look.
The Perceived Benefit of Helping the Domestic Economy
One of the main reasons people cite for buying American made products is that in purchasing things made on US soil rather than overseas, they are supporting the American job market. This is something that has always been important to consumers, but became even more of a concern for shoppers after the 2007 financial crisis. With unemployment high and jobs in industries like manufacturing harder to come by due to the fact that so many businesses were relying on imported products from places like China and Taiwan, the public took greater notice of how their buying choices were affecting the economy and employment market around them. Buying American was no longer just a preference, it was an act that people felt could help create jobs and keep the money they spent on the things they needed circulating in the US economy.
Of course, this perception is based on fact – the more companies manufacture their products onshore, the more demand there is for US workers. Manufacturing in the US may be more expensive than importing in many cases, but when consumers vote with their dollars, businesses will follow what their customers want.
However, there were other reasons why the Made in the USA mark was a strong selling point for people regardless of the shape of the economy, but the recession and employment crisis of the late 2000s certainly made some people think more about their choices when they were shopping.
Another reason why the public in the USA like to buy things that bear the Made in the USA mark is that there is a tendency to expect greater quality from US made products. Because imported goods are often much cheaper to make, there is the perception that they are of lower quality, both in terms of materials and craftsmanship. This isn’t always the case, as things made by machines with the same programming and design will be of the same quality regardless of which location they are made in. However, it is only natural to assume that higher paid workers care more about quality, and that companies who are using the Made in the USA mark, and therefore choosing more expensive manufacturing, are basing their reputations on quality goods over cheap mass production.
In fact, it is not only people in North America who feel this way about American made products. The growing middle class in China also has a preference for American made goods, so much so that the CEO of the biggest Chinese online retailer Alibaba has had a big drive to bring on American producers to sell their goods to the Chinese market. People in China are beginning to see American made goods as a mark of luxury and status, and so companies who manufacture in America have a chance to capture the largest and fastest growing consumer market in the world, thanks to the credibility of US manufacturing.
Ethical and Environmental Concerns
A third reason why many Americans value the Made in the USA mark on the things that they buy is that importing things from overseas increases the carbon footprint of the product. Flying things in from the other side of the world when they could have been made or produced in America causes unnecessary carbon emissions, and this is something a lot of people care about. A particular example is the growth in people who would choose to only buy seasonal produce farmed in the USA, or even produce made locally that they can get at farmers’ markets. Food is not the only thing that people think it is unnecessary to increase their carbon footprints over, either, and so that Made in the USA mark tells them that this product has not traveled a greater distance than needed to get to them.
Ethical issues are another factor. Many consumers are upset by the idea that major brands use highly underpaid workers in horrible conditions to make their goods. There have been sweatshop related scandals in the past couple of decades relating to all kinds of big-name shops and manufacturers, and this is something that tends to shock customers. By buying things that are marked as Made in the USA, they know that the product has not been produced by children in the third world or by people who are not paid enough to live unless they work ridiculously long hours in unpleasant conditions. People can assume that when they buy American made goods, the workers who were involved in its production were protected by the rights that people have in the USA, which allows them to make a guilt-free purchase.
Of course, American manufacturing isn’t perfect. There are big gaps state to state in how much people are paid, and there are still environmental considerations when something is flown across a continent, even if they are not as significant as when flown in from another part of the world. However, the Made in the USA mark does make consumers feel more comfortable, and can also add prestige to products being sold into other markets.
Do you tend to actively buy American, or is it not something you factor into your purchasing choices? Let us know in the comments!