Made in America Means Well Made
Affluent shoppers use country of origin as a proxy to measure quality
June 2011 Stevens, PA -- Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen proudly promote the domestic manufacture of most of the clothing included in their women's label, The Row. Brooks Brothers does likewise, as does menswear maker Joseph Abboud. For luxury brands, the "Made in America" label is a detail that affluent consumers are willing to pay up for.
But marketers should dig deeper before assuming that this interest in domestically-producedluxury goods is simply an expression of affluent patriotism. According to a recent study by Unity Marketing, affluent consumers associate certain attributes with countries of origin of luxury goods, and the USA is associated with the qualities affluents desire most.
That elevates manufacturing decisions beyond the sourcing department to marketing where place of manufacture becomes a core attribute of product branding and positioning. "If you make your luxury product in the wrong place, you can seriously harm your brand," warns Pam Danziger president of Unity Marketing and author of the recently published Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury: How New Consumers Values Are Redefining How We Market Luxury (Paramount Market Publishing, 2011).
"Affluent consumers believe that the country where luxury brands are produced implies information about the product quality, regardless of whether the company's manufacturing standards and their production facilities in far-flung locales are held to high standards. Luxury consumers identified a slate of key qualities most important to them when they shop for luxury goods, including craftsmanship, authenticity, classic nature, distinctiveness, and trustworthiness. These attributes line up with affluent perceptions about domestically-produced luxury goods," says Danziger.
However, this does not mean that affluent consumers are solely choosing goods that benefit them individually, with no thought of national impact. "Affluent consumers recognize the positive impact that purchasing domestic luxury goods can have on U.S. jobs and on the country's way of life, and they want to contribute to that. It is a much more altruistic form of luxury consumption than we saw before the recession hit," says Danziger.
Luxury marketers should understand these new motivations of the affluent consumers and take action accordingly. While mass market brands have long achieved traction with patriotic marketing -- think Chrysler's recent "Imported from Detroit" campaign -- luxury marketers have often trumpeted the exclusive, exotic nature of a more expensive import. This type of positioning may no longer have traction with the American affluent consumer, who wants to spend his or her money on high quality luxury goods that help the country as well.
New study reveals trends in luxury consumers' shifting attitudes toward place of manufacture
The new trend report, entitled, What Luxury Executives Need to Know about Where Their Products Are Manufactured: How to use "place" to sell more luxury goods compares the results of an April 2011 survey with a similar survey conducted in January 2007 in order to provide a perspective on how luxury consumers' attitudes are changing about where luxury goods are sourced.
Danziger says, "One of the most powerful trends to emerge in the latest survey is that luxury consumers are getting more aware of where their favorite luxury brands are sourced. The findings from this research can impact the decisions companies make in manufacturing and sourcing in specific countries. It suggests opportunities for brands to create awareness in the minds of luxury consumers about the place of manufacture and how to position 'place' to influence the consumer toward purchase."
About the latest survey on place of manufacture
The survey was conducted April 6-13, 2011 among 1,321 luxury consumers (avg. income $287.2k; median net wealth $897k; age 45 years; men 45 percent & women 55 percent), in association with Unity Marketing's exclusive luxury tracking study.
For media: Danziger available for interviews. Charts, tables and graphs detailing major findings in the report also are available.