“Made in USA”: Still Magic Words?

Made in USA iconHistorically, the words “Made in USA” have helped convey not only a sense of national pride, but also the idea of a quality product. It’s considered important enough that there are several online databases that provide consumers with information on which products are American-made (www.madeinusa.org is one such example).

But with so many great products now being manufactured overseas — and with high-profile cases of product quality flaws publicized for both American and foreign companies — how powerful a message is the “USA-made” claim today?

Findings from a July 2010 online survey of over 2,000 U.S. consumers conducted by Harris Interactive reveal that the those words do still have power. Overall, ~61% of respondents stated that they’re “much more likely” or “somewhat more likely” to buy a product when the advertising or the packaging states that it is made in America.

Are there regional deviations to this view? Harris doesn’t see too much. Consumers in the Midwest seem to be most swayed by the “American made” message (~67%), while consumers in the West are least influenced (~57%).

But here’s where things get more interesting: The younger you are, the less likely you are to be swayed by this “feel-good” marketing message. The Harris Poll stats show this pretty convincingly in their age cross-tabs:

 Age 55+: ~75% say they’re “more likely” to buy a product that’s made in USA
 Age 45-54: ~66% are more likely to buy American
 Age 35-44: ~61% are more likely to buy American
 Age 18-34: ~44% are more likely to buy American

But what’s even more startling is how steep the drop-off is when you get below age 35. Indeed, it seems as if there’s a major demarcation line between consumers on either side of age 35.

… Which means that the claim to national pride could become less and less potent as a selling point for marketers in the years ahead.