American consumers overvalue US-produced apparel, study finds

Oct 30, 2012

In today's globalized economy, a large percentage of apparel products are multinational products as raw materials are produced, transported and assembled in different countries. However, consumers have little information about where and to what extent their apparel is produced domestically or overseas. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that American consumers place a much higher value on apparel produced entirely in the US with US raw materials as opposed to products produced partially or entirely overseas. The value is so high, in fact, that MU experts worry it could be damaging to US apparel manufacturing businesses and the overall economy.

In a study published in Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, Jung Ha-Brookshire, an assistant professor in the textile and apparel management department in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at MU, surveyed to determine the value they place on apparel produced in different countries. She showed participants a cotton shirt, told them it was made in , and said it sold for $40 in . She then showed them the same piece of clothing and told them it was made in the US with US cotton. The study participants valued the US cotton shirt at $57, which is more than 42 percent higher than the same shirt produced in China. Ha-Brookshire says this demonstrates a troubling trend for American .

"Americans tend to severely overvalue apparel produced entirely in the US," Ha-Brookshire said. "This is concerning because if Americans place higher values on these US products, they perceive those products to be too expensive and are less likely to buy them, opting instead to buy similar Chinese-made products perceived to be more in their price range. To help US apparel businesses create and maintain domestic jobs, American consumers need to have a realistic understanding of the value of apparel made in the US."

One positive finding in Ha-Brookshire's study was that American consumers do value apparel made with US-grown cotton, even if the finished goods are manufactured overseas. When she showed the survey participants the same cotton shirt and told them it was made in China from US cotton, participants valued the shirt at $47, or 17 percent higher than a shirt with only a "Made in China" label. Ha-Brookshire says this increased value is not large enough to be prohibitive for consumers.

"US cotton growers can utilize these findings by better indicating what apparel is manufactured from their cotton," Ha-Brookshire said. "Currently, retailers are only required to indicate where the apparel was manufactured or sewn, but if consumers could see that apparel produced in China was made with US cotton, they would probably be more likely to purchase it."

Ha-Brookshire also will present her research in November at the Textile Product Labeling Summit at the University of Missouri. The summit will consist of discussions among national policy makers, researchers, consumer advocates and industry leaders about important topics regarding current textile product labeling practices and regulations. For more information about the summit, visit http://muconf.missouri.edu/textilelabeling/index.html.

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cotton's potential for padding nonwovens

Sep 09, 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have conducted studies to investigate the use of virgin cotton in nonwoven materials and products. The work was led by cotton technologist Paul Sawhney and his colleagues at ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rwinners
3.5 / 5 (2) Oct 30, 2012
What is to be concerned about? The extra that we pay for American products made from American materials is keep in this country.
Products made overseas do not benefit American workers. Ying and yang.
Marquette
not rated yet Oct 31, 2012
What is to be concerned about? The extra that we pay for American products made from American materials is keep in this country.
Products made overseas do not benefit American workers. Ying and yang.


Read the article again. The study tested people's perception of price. They found that people tend to overvalue US apparel, that is, they assume it is much more expensive, and therefore won't buy it. The study suggests manufacturers could benefit from the "Made in the USA" cachet by using domestically produced raw materials, such as cotton, but save on manufacturing by having the clothing assembled in a lower labor cost country (like China).
Noumenon
4.7 / 5 (43) Oct 31, 2012
The study doesn't seem to make any sense, or at best based on faulty logic. You can't say "Made in the USA", if it was really "Made in China".

The survey results are not necessarily due to "overvalued" perception of US apparel, but rather, the common knowledge that it's cheaper to make things in China, which in turn implies cheapness wrt quality.

Also, people see the Price tag before the "Made in the USA" tag, so such perceptions will not effect their buying behavior unless it is already true in fact.

but if consumers could see that apparel produced in China was made with US cotton, they would probably be more likely to purchase it


Irrational conclusion. Cotton is cotton, no one will care about this. It's about the quality of workmanship.
rwinners
not rated yet Oct 31, 2012
The study tested people's perception of price. They found that people tend to overvalue US apparel, that is, they assume it is much more expensive, and therefore won't buy it.

Read more at: http://phys.org/n...html#jCp

People value American made products based upon all available information, including where it is made. Subjective? Perhaps, but still. Made in America does have value.

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...