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Manufacturing is coming back to America and that is cause for celebration. To ensure we never have to offshore production again, however, we must do whatever it takes – starting now – to make the “Made in USA” label synonymous with outstanding craftsmanship.
Fortunately, the perception of quality is still associated with Made in USA label, and US consumers actually are willing to pay premium for it according to research released in late 2012 by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG.)
The other key factor in consumers’ willingness to pay more, says BCG, is “patriotism,” which in this case means the desire to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S. If history is any indication, however, no amount of patriotism will keep manufacturing on U.S. soil if another source of cheap labor are found elsewhere, again.
Most of the manufacturing that is coming back, says BCG, are of “products that require less labor and are churned out in modest volumes, such as household appliances and construction equipment.” To that end, Whirlpool and GE actually already have recently brought production back to the U.S. There was an element of patriotism at work there, to be sure, but these companies are only actually doing it because they believe they can do it profitably.
To keep production here, however, manufacturers – will need to give consumers – globally – a host of good reasons to continue to pay a premium for Made in USA long term. And companies need to start identifying and promoting those reasons now.
That means taking a close look at every aspect of the brand – not just the product, the way it’s made and who is making it, but also the entire customer journey from first encounter via the website to post delivery maintenance and service calls. Some things to think about:
Does the website accurately reflect the offerings – look, feel, photos and copy? Does it instantly make the company look and sound different than its competitors? What happens when I call customer service with a problem?
What processes make the product different and better? How is it talked about? (Or is at all?) If there is a factory tour, is it fully scripted and choreographed to a strategic outcome? What do I see and experience when I walk into the lobby of corporate headquarters for the first time?
The fact that manufacturing is returning to the U.S. is good. But whether or not manufacturing will stay on U.S. soil ultimately will depend on the bottom line.
To ensure production can stay here, we need to do our part to make sure Made in USA continues to mean “premium” and “worth it.” And we need to start doing it now.
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