'Made in America' as a Green Marketing Tool

Speaking Sustainably

'Made in America' as a Green Marketing Tool

A couple of weeks ago I posted the press release we issued on this year's Eco Pulse study, the focus of which was on the finding that "made in America" tested really well in several questions and categories -- trumping many other sustainability features (and, until now, I think most of us weren't thinking of "made in America" as a sustainability feature).

Given that we all started this week with a celebration of our nation's independence, it seemed fitting to dig into this topic a bit more.

America, the safe. Despite the food scares that have grabbed headlines in recent years (tainted spinach, meat, peanuts, etc.), Americans do think food grown in America is safer than, say, food grown anywhere in South America. Or China. Or India. Or just about anywhere besides Western Europe.

As we've probed on this in focus groups, the belief is simply that other countries don't have the same safety standards, inspection mandates and care/concern that we do about ensuring food is safe to eat. Don't confuse this with an understanding of the difference between Organic and Natural (most Americans have no idea), and know that rationalizations abound (a banana grown anywhere may be OK because it comes with a nifty protective layer that one peels away before eating, for instance).

But, largely, touting the American heritage of your food is a huge bonus and may win you more battles at shelf than a number of other claims.

America, the land of opportunity. As a cherry on top, Americans also feel a little pride in helping the economy. "If it's grown in America, that means we're keeping/adding jobs here." This is not the driver behind the preference for "made in America," but it's a nice feel-good at the end of the mental gymnastics of deciding which bag of frozen peas to buy.

America, the best! For the Skeptics set -- the quarter of the population who's really not swayed or moved by any environmental or sustainability messages to speak of -- the idea that China may be surpassing us is reason to be up at 2:00 in the morning fretting. So, if "grown in America" can be spun as "not grown in China," or "buying this product could help us be superior once again to China," all the better.

So let your American flag fly. It just might help you sell more product.