HomeWorld Business published its inaugural Made in the U.S.A. report five years ago when a quest for streamlined supply chains was heating up a domestic manufacturing renaissance.
The inflating cost of Chinese imports further fueled the notion that lower-labor goods produced closer to home could accommodate inventory-averse retailers with shorter shipping leashes.
A Balancing Act
There was also mounting sentiment at the time that a deflated U.S. consumer base would find solace and pride in buying American.
Fast-forward five years. We’re still presenting a robust Made in the U.S.A. report (July 7, 2014 issue), a testament that the topic has graduated from resurgent trend to widespread retail implementation.
Appealing to consumers has moved into the focal point of marketing and merchandising campaigns touting renewed commitments to U.S.-made goods and U.S.-made jobs. For all the genuinely intended goodwill, though, social responsibility can’t succeed without fiscal responsibility. The economics have to work for the producer, the retailer and the consumer.
It is a delicate balancing act.
Despite studies indicating consumers would pay a premium for U.S.-made goods, domestic manufacturers are margin-pressed to mitigate sticker shock when comparing Made in the U.S.A. items to sourced counterparts. Murky claims of U.S. origin, meanwhile, could undermine those adhering to best labeling and marketing practices.
Retailers, big boxes especially, have to be careful of overplaying U.S.-made merchandise to the disadvantage of the majority of their assortments produced offshore. Just as they must be wary of domestic manufacturing commitments that come up empty on the shelves.
The winning score won’t be determined by the percentage of the mix that is domestically produced. The goal is overall growth.
U.S. marketers and retailers will be graded along the Made in the U.S.A. curve not by how they tap the patriotic marketing bubble for short-term gain, but by how they enable U.S. production with sustainable benefits to all players.
The resurgent U.S.-made pursuit has empowered domestic housewares manufacturers to reassert their potential advantages. It also has stoked those without U.S. factories to seriously evaluate how they might contribute to stateside production.
Land Of Opportunity
The movement also has helped open the housewares industry’s doors to a new generation of inventive designers, marketers and retailers touting U.S.-made products.
Even so, placing a U.S. flag on the box is not in itself the secret to success. The competitive advantage of a product, a brand and a company is sealed by so many factors.
Made in the U.S.A. isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. Where possible, though, it can be good for business on many levels, from supply chain efficiency to consumer confidence.
This is much more than a marketing trend. It’s an opportunity for U.S. production to reinforce the fiscal core of the U.S. housewares market for years to come.