“When people buy awesome stuff… awesome stuff happens.” This slogan for Made Movement, a marketing agency focused on supporting American manufacturing, embodies the economic, environmental and social benefits that stem from Americans purchasing American-made goods. David Schiff cofounded Made Movement in 2012 to educate the masses, and to help make U.S.-produced products hip and in hot demand. Schiff talks with Natural Foods Merchandiser about how natural retailers can rock the cause.
Natural Foods Merchandiser: How can retailers promote U.S.-made products in their stores?
David Schiff: Natural products retailers are progressive and influential, and many already make efforts to identify and promote local and U.S.-sourced products. But this happens primarily in the produce section. Meanwhile, most of the sweet potatoes in prepared items come from foreign countries, even though we have a ready supply here. And with vitamins, the majority of products are sourced from overseas. For instance, China has a near monopoly on vitamin C. Still, it’s hard for shoppers to find country-of-origin information. Storewide shelf labeling would really help—something unobtrusive but easy to read that provides origination information for every single product.
NFM: Will U.S. shoppers spend more for goods produced in America?
DS: More than ever, Americans are willing to pay more for products made domestically, not because it’s patriotic, but because we’re finally realizing that it affects us personally. Our houses are worth less because of offshoring. We all know people out of work because of offshoring. As consumers, we can reverse these trends by purchasing items made here and asking for them when not available. And we’ll pay a little more now knowing the long-term price will be way higher if things continue as they have.
NFM: What other messages should retailers communicate to customers?
DS: Natural products shoppers are ahead of the curve in understanding the benefits of Made in the USA. Most realize it means more responsible sourcing and a smaller carbon footprint. But one benefit that gets overlooked is job creation. You see this being celebrated in the local movement, with consumers eager to support nearby farmers and suppliers, but it’s equally important to support American—not just local—jobs. When you buy a good manufactured in the U.S., it generates additional money in surrounding sectors of the economy because the factory has to be built and all the people who work there need haircuts and car insurance and all kinds of things.
NFM: Do you think one day we’ll buy a majority of goods from U.S. manufacturers?
DS: I don’t know that it will ever be a majority, or even should be. We’re living in a global economy, and that’s a good thing. But there needs to be balance. The percentage of goods we consume that are made here is miniscule. Less than 2 percent of the clothing we wear is U.S. made, whereas in 1996, it was 25 percent. That’s a travesty. Imagine how many jobs would be created and how much surrounding good would result if we returned to that.