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Do consumers really favour clothing made 'at home'?

By FashionUnited

18 Feb 2015

Fashion

Consumer markets are increasingly global, yet consumers continue to say they favor products made “at home.” Or at least that’s what they say. But when it comes to actual purchase decisions, this sentiment gives way to more important considerations: brand value, price, quality, features, convenience, and performance.

Local preferences clearly matter in food, where consumers equate “local” with “fresh” and have strong national and regional tastes. This keeps the industry’s footprint highly local. But in apparel, consumers focus on performance, innovation, style, and brand reputation, no matter what the source.

For products where the perception of value is very deeply associated with the country of origin, like Italian tailoring, Swiss watches or American sportswear, consumers remain faithful even after much of the content is no longer sourced in the country of association. Nike, for example, doesn't make its sneakers in the US, but consumer perception does not equate it with India, where it makes much of its products. Nor is the consumer particularly bothered that Nike doesn't produce in the US.

What are the implications for companies? Manufacturers that do make garments in desirable regions and markets can employ the power of country of origin to cultivate and strengthen their brand identity, even when products are not strictly domestic.

We see companies such as Chanel, Victorinox (Swiss Army) and Hermès using country of association to convey brand images of quality, precision, performance, or luxury. We also see companies successfully creating country associations wherever they manufacture.

Manufacturers should identify where they can create positive associations (e.g., in design or in craftsmanship or quality) with countries of origin and use those insights to differentiate their products.