Should Your Products be Born in the USA? The Power of “Made in America” Branding

The Fourth of July is a sensory holiday: a day that evokes images of red, white, and blue; conjures the smell of cookouts;  awakens our inner USA-chanting patriot; and reminds us of our freedom. It’s no wonder that brands strive to tap into the deeply ingrained sense of American pride that permeates this holiday… and our consumer mentality.

These images of red, white, and blue? 79% of Americans own patriotic merchandise and approximately 16% buy more each year, according to an Independence Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. The cookouts – all 36 million of them at an average of $54.62 a piece – cost upwards of $2 billion (not to mention the additional $340 billion that will be spent this weekend on beer).  While it is clear sales for patriotic products reach their annual high each July 4th, the brand strategy behind this purchasing pattern may have year-round merit.

“Made in America” is a tagline that covers packaging, infiltrates advertisements, and builds brand equity. This year, Jeep topped the list as the nation’s most patriotic brand – followed by Levi Strauss and Coca-Cola. However, “Made in America” means more than just cars, denim, and soda. The Boston Consulting Group reported  that not only are 80% of Americans more likely to purchase domestic products, but two-thirds are willing to pay a premium for these goods.  This fact, coupled with federal efforts to support job creation and accelerate manufacturing growth, is challenging recent trends in globalization and forcing businesses to think locally.

The White House announced this June that U.S. manufacturing output has “increased by 30% since the end of the recession, growing at roughly twice the pace of the economy overall… Due to a highly productive workforce, sizeable and transparent markets, low-cost  energy, and our historic lead in innovation, the United States is once again the leading destination for business investment.” Wal-Mart’s pledge in 2013 to buy an extra $250 billion in U.S.-made goods across the next decade marks a landmark decision to further stimulate this “home grown” mindset. As the nation’s largest retailer, this decision is leading companies that rely on Wal-Mart to distribute their products to consider moving their operations domestically. General Electric, Apple, and Whirlpool are among the 37% of businesses following suit with large investments in American manufacturing. As Reuters notes: “The forces pulling production back to the United States are powerful and real and include lower domestic energy prices, increasingly competitive wage rates, the benefits of greater automation, and a renewed appreciation for the value of being able to respond quickly to shifting U.S. customer demands.”

With 81% of consumers eager to make strategic purchasing decisions in support of the U.S. economy, manufacturers are starting to seriously consider reshoring their operations. While the cultural and legal implications of insourcing production are easier to navigate than some international expansion initiatives, the decision to relocate a company’s resources still demands a data-driven assessment of the market. Our clients often approach this decision after first surveying their customer base to evaluate the value stakeholders place on American-made products and the impact reshoring may have on brand equity. Further, market evaluations help these companies objectively compare the costs and benefits of each market of interest – weighing the consumer-driven implications of purchasing intent with labor rates, taxes and fees, growth outlook, and supply chain availability.

After evaluating the benefit staying local may afford your business, it might just be time jump on the “Made in America” bandwagon and tap into a large patriotic customer segment in time for another July 4th purchasing boom.


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