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Perception of Government Plays Role in ‘Buying American’

Letting potential customers know your company is based in America is probably good for business. But just how strong that message needs to be in order to be effective may depend on the level of confidence customers have in their government.

A recent study shows a correlation between how consumers feel about the government’s ability to handle adverse situations and their propensity to “buy American .” For example, those who lack confidence in their government’s ability to respond to threats tend to show support for Uncle Sam in subtle ways. And one of those ways is to open their wallets and purchase American-made products.

On the other hand, businesses whose customers are confident in their government’s abilities during trying times may need to raise that “Made in America” banner a little higher because patriotism alone doesn’t necessarily grease the wheels of spending.

According to the study’s authors, consumers show preferences for domestic products only when the products convey a strong, explicit statement in support of their government.

For some manufacturers, the “American Made” label might be sufficient to influence their target audience to make a purchase. Most business owners, however, may need to do a little more extrapolation — in the form of overt marketing and advertising — to inspire patriotic purchases.

Either way, when it comes to fine-tuning your marketing strategy, more information, just like a red, white and blue label, will never be a bad thing.

The study is to be published in the June issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.