American-made products may be hurting American stores.
U.S. consumers tend to place a higher value on products they believe are made in America, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of Missouri. But for some, more valuable can translate into more expensive, making potential customers less likely to buy the American-made version of a product.
For the study, which was published in the Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, Assistant Professor Jung Ha-Brookshire showed participants a white cotton shirt and told them it was made in China and that it sold for $40 in stores. She then showed them the same shirt and told them it was made in America. The participants placed the value of the American-made version at $57 on average.
“Americans tend to severely overvalue apparel produced entirely in the U.S.,” Ha-Brookshire said in a press release. “This is concerning because if Americans place higher values on these U.S. products, they perceive those products to be too expensive and are less likely to buy them.”
The study’s findings mirror fashion trends, which indicate that buying American-made clothes is increasingly viewed as a luxury. Some have tried to cash in on the new luxury label; Dave Schiff launched a site aiming to sell American-made clothes to shoppers as a premium product, according to The New York Times. Mike Catherwood, a co-host of radio show “Loveline,” told The Huffington Post in September that his year-long experiment to only buy American-made clothing has turned out to be quite expensive.
In addition, a “Made in the USA” label has more weight with consumers than in the past, according to a survey cited last month by Seeking Alpha. That trend is also holding true on the campaign trail; a Mitt Romney ad uses the claim that Chrysler moved production of its Jeep vehicles to China under President Obama as a way to attack the president’s handling of the auto bailout.