Red, white and blue is the new green.
“People are starting to demand it,” said Dave Schiff, chief creative officer for Made Movement and former advertising consultant for brands like Coca-Cola and Microsoft. “Made in the USA means more job creation, fair-labor practices, a smaller carbon footprint and a level of craftsmanship that wasn’t there in decades past.”
Gone are the days of patriotic endurance of lackluster products for the sake of buying American. The label has found new life in the form of upscale accessories, professional attire and the collaboration between domestic manufacturers with retail brands like J. Crew and Club Monaco.
The resurgence in domestic products isn’t enough to satisfy manufacturing supporters like Schiff though.
“The movement has to be more than that,” Schiff said. “It can’t always mean handmade jeans or cool boots; there needs to be a push for advanced electronic manufacturing and tech development. If you don’t start with that, you’re dead in the water.”
Schiff launched Made Movement, a marketing agency focused on American brands, in April 2012 with two other Crispin Porter + Bogusky agency alum, Scott Prindle and John Kieselhorst. As the agency took on more clients, the team realized there were few resources for everyday consumers to find an aggregated selection of American-made products.
The company decided to expand. Made Collection, an online shopping site, launched on July 4, 2012, with a mission to provide a curated collection of American-made apparel, home goods and outdoor accessories to average consumers. After partnering with Esquire magazine for a Made in America holiday gift guide, the site went viral and the number of company partnerships has grown to more than 100.
“The Collection is a store where people can shop and know for a fact the product they’re buying was made in the U.S.,” Schiff said. “We take the time to do the research and ensure that what we offer is directly impacting workers in cities across the nation.”
The full range of benefits may be catching the attention of corporate America, but are efforts to revitalize American manufacturing reaching the audience that can boost it the most? College students have the power to make manufacturing sexy again, Schiff said.
There’s just one problem with reaching the college-age consumer: price. Products produced in the U.S. often run at a much higher price point than foreign-manufactured goods. While more than 80% of Americans would pay more for Made-in-USA products, according to a recent survey by Boston Consulting Group, cash-strapped students could forgo buying American in favor of saving hard-earned money.
College students haven’t entered the workforce yet, so the full-range of benefits for bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. can be lost on them, said Aly Perez, a University of Florida advertising student and the creative director of Garage Agency & Co., a student-run advertising agency.
“Even with more companies choosing to manufacture in the U.S., it isn’t being highlighted enough to really make college consumers take notice,” said David Argov, account director of Garage Agency & Co. “There should be a push to make American manufacturing the norm so products won’t have to be just what’s trendy or hip to get noticed.”
The push to produce more domestic goods may be coming soon. Wal-Mart is planning to meet consumer demand for American-sourced goods by pledging $50 billion toward reshoring efforts over the next 10 years, according to USA TODAY.
“When a company like Wal-Mart decides to change its framework, you’re going to see major effects throughout the retail industry,” Schiff said. “More people will get involved, the price of production should start to go down and there will be a push for the rest of the industry to follow suit.”
That push is what Schiff and others in the industry hope will shift consumer buying habits and bring more interest in manufacturing careers.
“A career in manufacturing should be considered heroic along the lines of a fighter pilot or doctor,” Schiff said. “It has just as much power to do good.”
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