Does “Made in America” figure into anyone’s buying decision?
Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Cannondale mountain bikes, Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster guitars, Zippo lighters, American Apparel T-shirts, Manhattan Portage bags, and Quo Vadis planners are made in America. But do people buy them because they admire and trust the brand and its products, or does the fact they were made here also figure into their purchase?
With so many mass-market goods made offshore, primarily in Asia, American-made products are usually more expensive. We understand that is a minus for shoppers that put price first. But it is a plus for people that have come to connote craftsmanship with small-scale domestic products.
There are reasons American-made products are more expensive: the living wage and benefits paid to employees, and the costs of adhering to environmental, health and safety laws.
In the past decade we have tried to reach out with messages of “sweatshop-free,” “supports the U.S. economy,” and even, “environmentally clean manufacture.” None of these made any discernable difference with many retailers, especially the national chains where so many people do their shopping.
There is a lot of media attention now about companies jumping on the green bandwagon. There is also a corresponding amount of negative publicity on China: reports of poisoned products; their massive air and water pollution problems, the unrest in Tibet.
Will this publicity prompt consumers and stores to check the label for “American-made”?