Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why Buy American?

Buy American? Why?

Do you remember when “Made in Japan” meant low cost, low quality and cheaply made product? I do. Today, Japan brings us world class products like Toyota/Lexus, Sony, Canon, Nintendo, Panasonic and more.

Do you think that the “Made in America” has the same meaning as that Japanese label did in the 50’s? I fear it does.

Americans are so enamored with all things foreign. We aspire to buy foreign cars, luxury fashion brands and technology from Europe and Asia. We are proud to be American, so why aren’t we buying our own products? Did you know employees at major US car manufacturers were known to have purchased
Japanese cars like Toyota and Honda? These were the very people making the American cars for the American people. If we ourselves are not buying our own products who will?

What can we do to have the “Made in America” label stand for leadership, quality and prestige? If are ever to help turn around the brand "America" we all have to do our part and buy the products and services the people of our country make. We need a new brand story.

Send us your comments on how we can instill the quality, pride and value in buying products that are made in America. srosen@airliftideas.com


Marty Hitzeman said...

Made in Japan has been replaced by made in China, Singapore, Mexico, Bangladesh, insert country here. I actually bought my Honda Pilot because it was actually assembled here in the US! I have the 1 in my vin number to prove it. Some American cars are made in Mexico and Canada...OYVAY! It's not that we build cheap stuff...its that it is too expensive for what you get. So if I want the American equivalent to my Pilot (features, safety etc), I have to pay 10k more. Why? Unions, litigation, stock price support...no idea. Moreover, Foreign products have been flaunted in hollywierd movies as what the rich own and aspire to own. So psychologically, the movies have embedded in our minds that foreign is better. Thanks Hollywood! What happened to you supporting America like back in the 40s and 50s. Outside of 90210 using a Corvette (remember Steve had one) all the cars they show are foreign luxury (unless its a hip hopper driving an Escalade.) Anyway. I buy american when i can, but it is very difficult to do these days. I think its funny that the American ' made series features companies that import so much of their products. Starbuck's Coffees, Playboys retail line (hell even some of the models), Whole foods international foods. We can instill pride by bringing manufacturing back to the states, making things people want and need, and by being a little less vain in our purchase decisions (my parents have owned Buicks since the early eighties and they have all been great reliable vehicles-although they look like old people cars-haha).

andyangelos said...

Shelley - An American Brand Story would be an interesting research project.

Personal opinions on buying and creating American: This entails Americans accepting lower wages, which in turn lowers consumption and further changes the 20th century ideal of living.

A prescient example: A relative worked in the auto industry for 25 years on the assembly line. As an assembly line supervisor with NO-COLLEGE she was earning $90K annually around 2000. When her division was recently sold to a foreign manufacturer, her contract was severed with a $250K package for loyal service. Contrast this with the $50K salary of another relative who has degrees in Botany, Education, and a Master's in Education Administration. From my viewpoint, this is a fundamental flaw in American pay scales and a reason why I am interested in Obama's plan to regulate compensation in industries such as healthcare. Many will argue that salary regulations prohibit free-enterprise, but they also provide a solution to inflated prices of American services and make our country more competitive on a global scale.

Also, the concept of "made" or "manufactured" has shifted in the last twenty years as evidenced by Marty's Sbuck and WFI examples. They are both very American companies with products made in Southeast Asia. The financing, marketing, distribution of these products, results in jobs for Americans.

I say let robots build products and have humans apply our evolved brains to other problems, such as finding ways to transition unskilled laborers into more marketable services.

Airlift Brand Story Telling said...

Marty, Thank you for your point of view on Made in America. When you are buying a product and both brands are simliar, is knowing that it was Made in America enough to make you buy it.

Airlift Brand Story Telling said...


Pay is a barrier but do you think that over time int he globalization of the world we become over zealous about buying international brand? It just seems sexier. I do think that we need to remind Americans the positive economic impact this would have on our own economy. Value goes well beyond price. But this looks like a hot topic for sure. Thanks

Marty Hitzeman said...

Shelley, YES! if I am comparing similar products and I have the opportunity to purchase one that is "Made in America", it will definitely sway my decision.

Teresa said...

As a person who has had exchange students (Italy, Germany, Russia) in my home for several years, I think it is telling that they like to come here and buy certain products that are much cheaper, especially electronics. Our Russian student, who lives in the Far East of Russia near China, would look at various products and laugh because everything he picked up said "Made in China". "Just like home," he'd say, but, of course, cheaper here. Our markets are flooded.

Other comments:

Personally, I deplore the loss of our sewing industry. Just try to find a dress made in the U.S.!

I believe that if we lose the auto industry and all of the heavy industry and manufacturing capabilities associated with it, we become a vulnerable nation.

Chris said...

I don't usually associate quality with any one country. I will buy a "locally-made" product (and I use that term loosely) not out of patriotism or political reasoning, but merely because I don't want my purchases to have to travel so far - simply from an environmental perspective. For me, if I have a choice between two identical products where one is North American and the other is from further afield, I will select the one closer to home.

That being said, I would rather buy one higher-quality item (regardless of the origin) than have to replace it within a few months so I am prepared to pay more for that quality (again - it doesn't necessarily have a single origin.) I do not believe that this behaviour is the norm, though.

Sustainnovate - InnovateCreateSustain said...

Interesting blog. I embrace the idea of buying and supporting American "made" products, but I also increase that circle to include products designed and mastered in America. Point: the latest Toyota vehicles coming off the assembly line are designed by Calty Studios in either Newport Beach or Ann Arbor. They are engineered and mastered at TTC - Toyota Tech Center in York Township, MI. They are often assembled in their US manufacturing plants in Kentucky and other places.

It is still hard for people to understand that something from Toyota from beginning to end could have all been done in the US....they are a Japanese company.

Many things originate here - and that is part of the "american original" charm and interest. I think it is time to rebrand the Made In America from the grass root - neighborhoody kind of image to something that is as unique as our melting pot. It is almost like making that salad from all different things in the fridge. You never know the results, but they are always tasty!!