On the surface it’s an easy marketing concept: Take a product traditionally made in a particular country and focus on its unique qualities to give it an advantageous position in the marketplace and drive sales. Whether it’s “Made in Italy,” “Made in Brazil,” or “Made in the USA,” it’s not that simple any more.
Look at this week’s (disputed) reports that Louis Vuitton shoes are mostly made in Romania, where labor is cheaper, and then finished in Italy, dressed with the “Made in Italy” stamp. Is that wrong? Is it stretching the truth too much? Where should the line be drawn?
Take for instance leather shoes that are hand-crafted in the United States by a small brand. It’s not terribly likely that the leather for those shoes was tanned in the U.S., or necessarily even came from a US source. And, maybe some components, like buckles, laces or other hardware, were imported from elsewhere. Is that still legitimately considered made in the USA? How about upholstery companies that buy the leather in one country, tan it in a second, and manufacture it in a third, using some components that come come from yet a fourth country. How do you label that?
And, pinning a country’s manufacturing future on a particular product as India did with leather goods and the “make in India” program has turned out to be a real can of worms for a government that banned the very material used to make those goods.
There was a marketing campaign decades ago called “Look for the Label,” meaning Americans should seek out products with the “Made in the USA” label. In this global environment, what does that even mean anymore?
By Vera Dordick – Managing Editor Hidenet