Aug 3, 2015

Authentically American: The Millenial Love Affair with ‘Made in the U.S.A.’


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We recently began a project refreshing an iconic American brand with nearly half a century of success under their belt. Steeped in a rich heritage, a lasting legacy continues to reinforce the confidence of their tried and true fans. Same family, same factory, same reliable product offering. Does this matter?

It got us wondering. Why the sudden resurgence of products—and brands—born in the USA? Sure, patriotic action has always been de rigueur for the most red-blooded of Americans, but what about the behavior of the flighty millenial? With every passing day it’s becoming clear this generation isn’t nearly as self-absorbed as they once were made out to be. Instead, they are shaping their own set of values, and it’s beginning at home.

We dug into the trends, and found a breadth of reasons why “where it’s from” matters. Consumers are paying attention, and so should you.

Experiential Connection: Knowing where products come from allows consumers to keep tabs on the way their products are made. The narratives behind manufacturing are connecting the buyer to people or places they may have never thought possible.

With every watch Shinola produces, the buyer knows exactly who crafted the timepiece by hand, and can learn more about them on their website. Leopold’s Gin was one of the first to roll out American small batch nation-wide, with a handwritten label citing the exact batch your spirits came from. It’s this type of personalization that lends engagement with the product, and therefore increased engagement with the brand. The secret sauce that has them coming back for more.


The rise of Etsy, DIY and Maker movements are connecting people in new ways with handcrafted wares made at home. Consumers feel good about supporting small businesses—conscious purchases that are helping millenials define what matters to them and who they choose to interact with. No faceless customer service department—these mediums facilitate a tangible person-to-person communication. The experience as a whole becomes that much more rewarding and unforgettable.

 Promoting Brand Integrity: If the Toms and Warby Parker’s of the world have taught us anything, it’s that consumers want to support a brand with morals and values backed by every product they sell.

Consumers want to support brands that lower carbon footprints—associated with American-made products is much smaller than it is for comparable products that have to be shipped across the world. Ethical manufacturing and sustainable practices are key purchase drivers for many millenials. They are willing to put in the time and research to unearth the details, and with social media in the palm of their hand, may be learning these facts by osmosis. So if you’re a brand with recognizable integrity, put it front and center.

With an endless catalogue of information just a click away, consumers are becoming more informed, more calculated, and more conflicted about their brand allegiances. Your story matters. Telling it with authenticity—whether from a factory in Detroit, or an apartment in Brooklyn—will shape success for brands in the years to come.


Image via Shinola




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