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'Made in America' attracts premium

News, 26 May 2015

NEW YORK: Eight in ten US consumers say they would prefer to buy US-made goods rather than those made overseas, with many prepared to pay a premium for the privilege, but they are not always clear on what the term 'Made in America' actually means.

A survey by Consumer Reports found a widespread perception that US-made products are reliable and produced under better working conditions than elsewhere. And almost nine in ten understood that that buying such products would help keep jobs in the USA and help the national economy.

Additionally, two thirds said they were more likely to shop in a store advertising the fact it sells American products.

And they made a particular effort in certain categories, including food, where 76% said they tried to buy US products; American-made cars and trucks attracted 57% and large appliances 55%.

As more than 60% of those surveyed were prepared to pay a 10% premium for US-made goods, a "Made in America" label has selling power, Consumer Reports noted.

But the picture isn't always clear: famous US brands such as Apple and Cuisinart are made abroad, for example, while foreign automakers have invested in US plants.

Consumer Reports also observed that consumers often don't know what credence to give marketers' claims; 23% of those surveyed professed themselves annoyed that they weren't able to trust "Made in America" labels.

Federal Trade Commission guidelines aren't widely understood, it added, and the picture becomes murkier when products say they have been "assembled" or "designed" in America.

Other things that riled consumers included not being able to find American products (cited by 29%) and big-box stores pushing foreign-made products (39%).

And for all that many were ready to pay a premium for US goods, 56% thought they were expensive. That was the major complaint, although 28% also said US-produced items were technologically challenged.

Data sourced from Consumer Reports; additional content by Warc staff