Despite some parts and components being made abroad, consumers view the U.S. auto industry as having the brands they consider to be the most red, white and blue, new research shows.
A study by Harris Interactive revealed that Ford, General Motors and Chevrolet are three companies U.S. consumers perceive as "most American." McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart were the other brands shoppers strongly identified with the U.S.
"What many consumers don't know is that companies very traditionally seen as American, from GE to John Deere to Levi Strauss, outsource varying portions of their operations overseas, so it takes a lot of attention and research to determine if you're buying American and what that specifically means to you," said Mike de Vere, president of the Harris Poll. "Even the big three automakers — Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – two of whom were thought of as the most American brands in our findings, increasingly have cars in which parts are produced abroad, while Japanese automakers Toyota and Honda have upped U.S. production."
The research shows that being manufactured in the U.S. — ahead of being from a U.S. company, being made from American parts, or being American designed — is clearly the top factor in being considered an American product. Three-quarters of those surveyed said a product needs to be manufactured within the U.S. for it to be considered American, compared with roughly half who said it needs to either be made by a U.S.-based company or be made from parts produced domestically it to be considered American.
The study found that buying American is most important to U.S. consumers when shopping for major appliances, furniture, clothing, small appliances and automobiles.
Overall, the research discovered that perceived importance of buying American products increases with age, according to the study. Buying American was of least important to shoppers under the age of 35 and most critical to those over the age of 48.
Among the top motivations for shopping for American products are to keep jobs in the U.S., to support U.S. companies and over safety concerns with foreign-made products.
The study was based on surveys of 2,176 U.S. adults.