Gearing up for the Olympics: Is ‘Made In America’ Important to Shoppers?

We are two weeks away from the London Summer Olympic Games. There is a lot of excitement in the air as Americans get to know the athletes of Team USA including their life stories, gold medal potential and even what they will be wearing to the Opening Ceremony.

This year Ralph Lauren is outfitting Team USA in a classic American style. While it is very patriotic in aesthetic, the fact that the garments were made in China has not been well received. Many have voiced their disapproval including designer Nanette Lepore and Senate Majority Leader Henry Reid. Though there is a lot of negative press about where the garments were made—it is uncertain if this will affect shoppers’ desire to purchase this year’s Olympic Games gear.

In my experience, Olympic gear has always been a hot item for American shoppers—and not all the goods have been American. During 2002 when the Olympics were in Salt Lake City, Team USA berets became an unlikely runaway hit. Shoppers could not get enough of the berets or the other Team USA gear despite the fact that it was made by Canadian manufacturer Roots. So, how important is “Made in America” to today’s shoppers?

It is estimated that 52% of Americans feel it is very important that the products they buy be made in America. While many shoppers have domestic made purchase intent, not all actually act on that intent in store. Who does? Older shoppers. There appears to be a generational divide on this issue. Shoppers aged 55-64 and 65+ over index (117 and 129 respectively) vs. the general population regarding the statement “I buy goods produced by my own country whenever I can.” Comparatively, younger shoppers aged 18-34 and 35-44 under index (77 and 90 respectively). Plus, younger shoppers are more likely than older shoppers to want to buy items used by celebrities and sports teams (Source: Simmons, Winter 2012 NHCS Survey). So, perhaps this year’s Team USA apparel will still be a hot commodity. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Photo Source: Ralph Lauren Homepage