Meet The Men Behind The Movement To Buy Things ‘Made In America’ Again
The benefits seem obvious: it boosts economies, keeps people working, theoretically creates less environmental impact, and let’s just say it — for marketers, is right up there with the swoosh and Mac vs. PC. But is reshoring — a term often used to describe the “Made in America” phenomena — more than just hype? More importantly, how much influence, if any, should a company’s “domestically-made” pedigree and marketing impact the products you buy everyday?
We asked several companies — some who’ve manufactured locally for more than a century and others who’ve more recently built businesses as the movement’s grown.
Today only three per cent of the clothes worn by men in the U.S. are made domestically — a fraction of what it was fifty years ago (95%) — hardly a sign of a rebound. Talk of reshoring, however, is everywhere. Complicated supply chains, factory collapses, a growing Chinese middle class and heightened consumer interest are fuelling the trend. A number of experts now agree that to an extent, domestic manufacturing (specifically textiles and automotive) is expanding — slowly. So why then is “Made in America” seemingly everywhere?
“Local is back for the same reasons farm-to-table and sustainable food is important,” explains a senior executive at Filson, makers of U.S.-made bags and apparel since 1897. “Men care about where their goods come from, whether it’s food, apparel or accessories. Customers simply have more confidence in products made closer to home.”
Interest in heritage brands like Filson and others like Red Wing Shoes from a more connected generation seems to be bigger than ever, while newer brands — Detroit-based Shinola and San Francisco-based Welcome Stranger, for example — are making point-of-origin a big part of their sales pitch. “Made in America,” by some measures, has become a symbol for a sector’s return, and in some cases, a nation’s reconnection to it’s industrial past. But Chris Silverman, President of Chrome Industries, a company that manufacturers bags and apparel predominantly in the U.S. since 1985, believes the shift is mostly due to public consciousness.
“More and more customers actually give a shit and want something of substance, not disposable crap,” he says. “People are also moving to cities, with less stuff and smaller spaces and generally want less.”
Steve Spencer, Director of Sales for Red Wing Heritage, a shoe manufacturer since 1905, echoes a similar sentiment. Building or conveying a sense of trust, he says, has some guys willing to pay more for domestically made products. “It’s not just about making product here,” he says, “it is about a commitment to quality, craftsmanship and gaining the trust of educated customers.”
There are other currents driving the trend, too. “Low-income consumers in China, India, South Africa and elsewhere are willing to pay a premium for goods carrying the “Made in the USA” label,” explains a recent article in Forbes. A 2012 BCG study showed that sixty percent of Chinese consumers surveyed said they were willing to pay more for U.S.-made goods — nearly 80 per cent more in the case of certain products — a huge margin.
Studies show that the impact of marketing “Made in America” or “good working conditions” on clothing sales can be significant, especially when comparing two identically priced pairs of shoes, for example. When both are priced identically but one is positioned as locally made, buyers will support stuff made closer to home. When the price of “locally made” goes up five per cent, the number of people willing to pay more for locally made product drops 37 per cent. When the difference in price hits 30 per cent, twenty four per cent of customers buy local. This shows where a product’s made still isn’t the biggest determinant of buying behavior.
So in the long-term, is “Made in America” for real? The companies we connected with wholeheartedly say yes, and if you value their legacy, as well as the tactile difference you often feel from goods made domestically, you’re like to believe the hype. From their perspectives, it’s like asking why you’d want a real Eames versus a knock-off. Be it in what you eat or own, you’ll always want the option to buy something that’s well made. Where, how and by whom will always factor in.
Source by askmen