Americans, Chinese Swoon For 'Made In USA' Label

by , Nov 16, 2012, 3:22 PM
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Made-in-the-USA-AOn the heels of a rancorous election that frequently touched on Americans’ hostility toward Chinese imports, it’s probably no surprise to hear that 80% of American consumers prefer to buy goods made in the U.S.A. What is surprising, however, is that a new report from the Boston Consulting Group finds that Chinese prefer American-made products, too. Some 50% of those in the survey not only expressed preferences for goods with that “made in the USA” label, but the majority of them    -- 60% -- are also willing to pay more for it. 

While Chinese consumers have long been fans of American brands, “we weren’t expecting that preference to be quite so dramatic,” Kate Manfred, leader of BCG’s Center for Consumer and Customer Insight in the Americas and a coauthor of the survey, tells Marketing Daily. BCG polled some 5,000 people in the U.S., China, France and Germany.

Meanwhile, some two-thirds of Americans say they are willing to pay more, with acceptable price increases ranging from 10% to 60%, depending on the category. And 60% of the total U.S. sample say they have chosen a pricier USA-made product over a Chinese import in the last month.

And in China, more than half of the sample had also ponied up for a more expensive USA-made purchase in that time frame. 

The message, says Manfred, who is based in the firm’s Chicago office, is that marketers may not be fully exploiting the potential value of “Made in USA”-branded products, both here in and in China. “Companies need to craft their stories so that China is seen as an opportunity, not a threat,” she says.

The research is part of a broader initiative at BCG, examining how changes in global cost structures may lead to an increase in U.S. manufacturing, and is projecting anywhere from 2.5 million to 5 million new U.S. jobs in manufacturing and related services by the end of the decade as a result.

While consumers in both China and the U.S. agree that U.S.A.-made items are typically of higher quality, U.S. consumers also consider it beneficial for the country, with 93% saying it keeps jobs in the U.S., and 80% believing it is patriotic. 

French and German respondents are also true to items made in their own countries, with 65% of consumers in both countries saying they would pay more for German or French goods over American-made products. Says Manfred: “The idea of home sourcing here is much preferred, and we didn’t see it all in China.”

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