The "Made in the U.S.A." trend, which was fueled by the economic worries that followed the financial crisis in 2008, is gaining steam during an election year as Washington proposes to offer incentives to encourage the location or relocation of factories in the U.S. Companies are taking note and developing advertising campaigns to communicate a "Made in America" theme.
On Feb. 5, marketers spent tens of millions of dollars to run commercials with work themes before, during and after the Super Bowl. Those commercials included spots for General Electric, part of a campaign carrying the theme “G.E. works,” that celebrated products like refrigerators and turbines being built in the United States; a spot that showed a bottle of new Bud Light Platinum beer being produced in a plant that looked more like a factory than a brewery; and a spot for Hyundai, featuring workers employed at its first American factory, in Montgomery, Ala.
“We continue to see very heavy emotional response to anything that would leverage against the bad economy,” said Robert Passikoff, president at Brand Keys, a brand and customer-loyalty consulting company in New York.
SYMBOLS OF PATRIOTISM
At the same time, brands and retailers are looking to lower their risks, and a desire for Made in America goods as symbols of patriotism and job creation has crept back into the public and corporate mind-set. President Obama made proposals to spur job creation in his State of the Union address. On the other side of the political spectrum, GOP hopeful, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, has suggested ways to inspire U.S. firms to bring jobs back from overseas while his rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, said he would punish China for unfair commercial competition.
For all the drumbeating for American workers, said Mr. Passikoff of Brand Keys, his research indicates that many consumers do not shop specifically “for something made in one place or another” because they have heard “in the past 20 years so much talk of a ‘global economy.’ ”
PRODUCTION IN THE U.S.
A White House report released recently, “Investing in America: Building an Economy That Lasts,” in which analysts examined the viability of the U.S. as a location for manufacturing, said, “The U.S. will become an increasingly attractive option, especially for products consumed in North America,” as the “total cost of doing business, after taking into account the productivity of U.S. workers, as well as transportation, supply chain risks and other costs, are now making production in a range of industries as economical in the U.S. as in other parts of the world, including China.”
This is where the statistics start to jive with the talk of executives in the industry that the desire for faster-turn production and more control of the supply chain balances higher labor costs and overhead expenses for certain better brands enough to make U.S. manufacturing a viable option again, even if it never will return to its heyday of a generation earlier.
GROWTH IN TEXTILES
Interest in expanding or establishing more textiles production in the U.S. has also been growing for the past year or two in the wake of the Great Recession, as companies and consumers changed their buying habits, seeking to buy closer to the season and desiring higher quality.
Brian Meck, vice president of sales and marketing at knit apparel manufacturer Fessler USA, based in Orwigsburg, Pa., said, “It comes down to speed of production, speed-to-market. From the time we can take a creative concept and put product on the shelf is three months. When you compare that to doing business internationally, it gives us a very strong competitive advantage. Then the ability to react to what’s selling on the sales floor. We can work with our customers to continuously present new colors and new styles. We can replenish that quickly and have a large amount of product on the store shelves within four to six weeks, and that’s not something that can be done if you’re not doing business here because of the lead times. The time it takes just in shipping alone from overseas would prohibit it.”[Source: Friedman, Arthur. "Made in USA on Recovery Road." Women's Wear Daily. 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 17 Feb. 2012; Elliot, Stuart. "Made-in-America Resonates With Marketers." The New York Times. 15 Feb. 2012. Web. 17 Feb. 2012.]