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WGSN Presents: Made in America: Tactical Marketing Message

WGSN Presents: Made in America: Tactical Marketing Message

Courtesy of WGSN.com: The New Made in America

Brands are starting to use Made in America messaging as a market differentiator. Here, we look at the tactics US retailers are using to sell the home-grown concept to the consumer.

Key Trends

  • The new spending trend centres around the luxury of made in America
  • The three key print campaigns are: American Glocalisation, Authentic Luxury and Made Well
  • Global retailers hosting local events are connecting with their customer at a more intimate, honest level, satifying the consumer’s need for authenticity
  • Strategic print and billboard campaigns, in-store events and point-of-sale collateral  are the key focus points in highlighting domestic-made goods


  • The Made in America marketing trend taps into a growing consumer group interested in the provenance of product
  • Provenance may not necessarily simply refer to where something is made and who made it, but also how it is made, crafted or finished, and its entire journey, from inception to store
  • The story around a product’s ingredients is just as important to the consumer as the finished item
  • A consumer interested in the provenance of product is highly researched and engaged
  • Authenticity is at the heart of a good provenance product story
  • Brands and retailers found to be inauthentic in their messaging lose consumer credibility
  • Although the US market is probably the leader in provenance-based product messaging, WGSN is tracking the trend in other markets, too, and expects to see more brands using it as a differentiator

In a market ripe with digital strategy, retailers and brands are still relying heavily on print and billboard campaigns, even utilising the age-old advertising technique of “one sentence, one sell”. We identify the three main campaign trends American Glocalisation, Authentic Luxury and Made Well.

American Glocalisation

Companies are relying on their hometown roots to connect with a global audience. This strategy works two-fold as international consumers are made aware of the authenticity of the garment and national consumers feel an intimate connection with global American brands. A prime example of this is Gap’s autumn/winter 2011/12 global print campaign. The adverts featured images from behind the scenes at the 1969 design studio in Los Angeles; the photos of Gap employees contrasted against the product shots and were stamped with a single sentence: Los Angeles, 1969.

Authentic Luxury

Brands are looking to assure the consumer that the merchandise they are purchasing is genuinely American. According to an article by American Express Open Forum, September 2011, China has a new emerging middle class who have money to spend and want to invest in higher quality goods, both domestic and foreign, and brands are looking to tap into this. True Religion’s spring/summer 2012 campaign is about The True American, while Joseph Abboud’s autumn/winter 2011/12 campaign was entitled Made In The New America. Retailers are also affirming the luxury of their brand by cross promoting nostalgia and history, such as the Brooks Brothers’ anniversary campaign, declaring “Before there was Chicago, there was Brooks Brothers”.

Made Well

Made in America campaign strategies are now less about supporting the US workers and protecting American jobs and more about the inherent American authenticity of the product, convincing the consumer it is worth paying more for a quality product and materials. Karen Kane’s autumn/winter 2011/12 collection for Dillard’s featured designers picking out fabrics, sketching and construction, while Levi’s Made Here range explores various “Curations of American craft and culture”. And American Apparel continues to promote the quality of its product through inspirational mood boards.

Big brands go local

Global brands such as New Balance, Banana Republic and Levi’s are utilising local stores to convey the Made in America message.

In San Francisco, Banana Republic and SF Made (an organisation highlighting local San Francisco designers and companies) teamed up in February for a pop-up shop inside Banana Republic’s Grant Avenue flagship store. Shoppers perused and purchased items from Hilside Bags, Heliotrope, Ellie + Billie and Blue Blood. The partnership was so successful that an SF Made directory has been added to the Banana Republic website, making featured companies’ products available for purchase.

Levi’s and New Balance chose personalised and strategic in-store events to introduce the public to new merchandise and messaging, emphasising the quality and luxury of the goods in the invitations and the in-store signage. This strategy is being utilised by some of America’s mega malls including Watters Creek in Texas and The Block at Orange in Orange County, California. Both malls held Made in the USA-themed shopping days where the campaign tagline was “luxury is local”.

Confirming the trend in-store

The most popular messaging practice is through point-of-sale collateral, namely in-store signage, swing-tags and labels. Gap stores throughout the US display “Designed in Los Angeles” signage, complete with the design studio address, while Club Monaco and Madewell store displays highlight local luxury goods merchandise. In October 2011, Club Monaco debuted the Made in the USA collection; a “carefully curated collection” of men’s apparel and accessories – every product featured a Made in the USA label and swing-tag.

While consumers are drawn in by American luxury, the various stopovers in the form of collaterals – from in-store signage and store bags to hang-tags and labels – keeps them connected to the authentic and glocalised feeling that they get from their purchase.

Charlie Pomykal, director of sales and marketing for Santiago Knits, said: “We really wanted to stress to our customer that they are purchasing a luxury product, hand loomed in Los Angeles. They may only be in a store for a few minutes and they’ll likely throw away the bag as soon as they get home, so the label was key – the label stays as long as the garment.”

Made in America goes viral

Brands are using their digital platforms to highlight and reinforce the Made in the USA messaging, reassuring consumers of the quality of the product. Websites for Brooks Brothers, Lands’ End and Ernest Alexander pinpoint direct apparel sources, letting the consumer know where the materials are virtually born and raised.

Unlike the print campaigns that generally use the “one sentence, one sell” strategy, the digital platforms are highly in-depth, taking the customer from company inception to iconic pieces, such as Levi’s 501 Original jeans and Brooks Brothers’ ties.

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