Born in the USA OR Coming to America Harris Poll Finds Buying American Still Valued in Increasingly Global Marketplace

NEW YORK, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- At a time when many of the companies thought of as being American as apple pie actually outsource a growing portion of their production abroad, "buying American" has never been a more confusing proposition. Is a product manufactured overseas by a U.S. company more American than an Asian product manufactured in the United States?  What about the parts being used to produce these competing products?  The Harris Poll, conducted by Harris Interactive, set out to address what factors contribute to the perception of a product as "American" in an online survey of 2,176 U.S. adults between December 12 and 18, 2012.

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"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."

American Made
Being manufactured in the United States is clearly the top factor in being considered an "American" product, with three-fourths of Americans (75%) agreeing that "A product needs to be manufactured within the U.S. for me to consider it 'American'."  This puts domestic manufacture ahead of the importance of being from a U.S. company, being made from American parts, or being American designed.

  • Roughly half of U.S. adults agree that "A product needs to be made by a U.S. company for me to consider it 'American'" (52%) and that "A product needs to be made from parts produced in the U.S. for me to consider it 'American'" (47%).
  • Only one-fourth of Americans (25%) agree that "A product needs to be designed by an American for me to consider it 'American'."

The majority of Americans indicate feeling that it is either "very important" or "important" to "buy American" for the product types tested, with the strongest such feelings expressed for major appliances (75%), furniture (74%), clothing (72%), small appliances (71%), and automobiles (70%).

  • Perceived importance of buying American products increases with age across all categories; 18-35 year olds place the least importance on the practice, those 48 and older place the most.
  • Additionally, women are more likely than men to indicate that it is either "very important" or "important" to buy American in most categories.

A Nation Not So Divided
In what may come as a surprise, Republicans and Democrats seem to have some common ground on the subject.  Their importance ratings to "buy American" are either similar or identical, and are stronger than those of independents, across several categories.  Top examples of this include:

  • Automobiles (75% Republicans, 74% Democrats, 64% Independents);
  • Home electronics (71%-71%-60%); and
  • Personal electronics (71%-71%-60%).

Job Security
When asked to rate the importance of a series of motivations for buying American, over seven in ten U.S. adults rate each tested reason either "very important" or "important." Drilling down into the "very important" ratings uncovers more diverse results. The clear frontrunner for this measure is "keeping jobs in America," with two-thirds (66%) of U.S. adults rating it "very important." The majority also assign top importance levels to "supporting American companies" (56%), while half do so for "safety concerns with products assembled/produced outside of the U.S." (49%).

  • On the other end of the spectrum, "Decreasing environmental impact since products don't need to travel as far" receives the lowest "very important" rating (32%).
  • Women and older adults are again more likely to rate the tested reasons "very important."

America Loves a Ford
When asked directly, and without any prompting as to brand names, place of manufacture or other factors, to name the company they perceive as most "American*," U.S. adults' minds go first to the auto industry, with two of Detroit's big three topping the list.

  • Ford (15%) is the top mention by a wide margin.
  • Combined (9%) mentions of General Motors / GM (5%) and GM-owned Chevrolet (4%) are next strongest.
  • Other well-known companies to make the list included the golden arches and America's top-selling soda brand.
    • McDonald's (4%)
    • Coca-Cola (4%)
    • Walmart (3%)

 

TABLE 1a
IMPORTANCE OF BUYING AMERICAN, BY PRODUCT TYPE – by Generation & Gender
[Summary of combined "Very important" and "Important" ratings]
"Which of the following best describes how important you feel it is to 'buy American' for each of these types of products?  Even if you do not typically make purchases in a particular product category, we'd like to know your opinion."

Base: U.S. Adults


Total

Generation

Gender

Echo Boomers

(18-35)

Gen. X

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Males

Females

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Major appliances (refrigerator, washing machine, etc.)

75

57

74

86

85

71

79

Furniture

74

54

76

86

84

71

78

Clothing

72

56

76

80

80

67

77

Small appliances (microwave, vacuum, etc.)

71

53

72

81

81

66

76

Automobiles

70

58

72

76

75

65

74

Sports/exercise equipment (bike, running shoes, etc.)

66

50

70

76

71

64

69

Home electronics (TV, blu-ray player, etc.)

66

49

69

74

76

60

72

Personal electronics (smartphone, tablet, computer, etc.

66

46

69

76

76

61

71

Jewelry

63

47

67

69

70

58

67

Motorcycles

59

46

62

67

61

58

61

Novelty/gift items

59

45

64

66

61

51

66

Note: Multiple response question

 

TABLE 1b
IMPORTANCE OF BUYING AMERICAN, BY PRODUCT TYPE – by Metro Status & Political Affiliation
[Summary of combined "Very important" and "Important" ratings]
"Which of the following best describes how important you feel it is to 'buy American' for each of these types of products?  Even if you do not typically make purchases in a particular product category, we'd like to know your opinion."

Base: U.S. Adults


Total

Metro Status

Political Party

Urban

Suburban

Rural

Republicans

Democrats

Independents

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Major appliances (refrigerator, washing machine, etc.)

75

72

74

81

81

76

75

Furniture

74

71

73

80

79

75

75

Clothing

72

70

72

75

73

75

73

Small appliances (microwave, vacuum, etc.)

71

72

68

77

76

74

69

Automobiles

70

71

67

74

75

74

64

Sports/exercise equipment (bike, running shoes, etc.)

66

64

65

72

73

65

67

Home electronics (TV, blu-ray player, etc.)

66

69

63

71

71

71

60

Personal electronics (smartphone, tablet, computer, etc.

66

66

64

69

71

71

60

Jewelry

63

62

60

69

68

65

59

Motorcycles

59

55

58

66

63

60

59

Novelty/gift items

59

57

56

66

61

61

57

Note: Multiple response question


TABLE 2
FACTORS INFLUENCING DESIRE TO BUY AMERICAN – by Generation, Gender & Metro Status
[Summary of "Very important" & combined "Very important" and "Important" ratings]
"In terms of buying American products, how important are each of the following to your purchase decision?"

Base: U.S. Adults


Total

Generation

Gender

Metro Status

Echo Boomers

(18-35)

Gen. X

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Males

Females

Urban

Sub-urban

Rural

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Keeping jobs in America

90

82

90

94

95

87

93

88

90

92

66

53

57

76

78

59

72

61

65

72

Supporting American companies

87

76

88

93

94

84

90

84

87

92

56

40

55

61

71

49

62

50

56

60

Safety concerns with products assembled/ produced outside of the U.S.

82

71

84

85

93

78

86

81

81

86

49

36

42

56

68

42

56

49

48

51

Quality concerns with products assembled/ produced outside of the U.S.

83

73

85

85

91

80

85

81

82

84

45

36

37

49

61

40

50

45

42

51

Patriotism

76

59

78

82

87

74

77

69

74

85

45

33

38

51

60

42

47

40

45

49

Human rights issues with products assembled/ produced outside of the U.S.

76

65

80

79

84

68

83

77

75

76

39

33

33

43

50

30

48

40

39

39

Decreasing environmental impact since products don't need to travel as far

71

62

73

75

76

64

77

70

70

74

32

24

30

36

40

25

38

30

31

36

Note: Multiple response question

 

TABLE 3
FACTORS IN CONSIDERING A PRODUCT TO BE "AMERICAN" – by Generation, Gender & Metro Status
"Which of the following statements do you agree with?"

Base: U.S. Adults


Total

Generation

Gender

Metro Status

Echo Boomers

(18-35)

Gen. X

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Males

Females

Urban

Sub-urban

Rural

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

A product needs to be manufactured within the U.S. for me to consider it "American"

75

69

72

81

79

71

79

70

78

76

A product needs to be made by a U.S. company for me to consider it "American"

52

50

46

54

56

48

55

50

51

55

A product needs to be made from parts produced in the U.S. for me to consider it "American"

47

48

45

46

51

48

47

50

45

50

A product needs to be designed by an American for me to consider it "American"

25

27

22

23

25

23

26

24

24

27

Not at all sure

9

14

9

6

7

11

8

10

8

10

Note: Multiple response question

 

TABLE 4
COMPANY PERCEIVED AS MOST "AMERICAN" – by Region & Age & Gender
"What company do you consider to be the most 'American'?"

Base: *U.S. Adults


Total

Region

Age

Gender

Northeast

Midwest

South

West

18-34

35-44

54-54

55+

Males

Females

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Ford

15

17

18

12

16

16

20

13

13

17

14

GM + Chevrolet [NET]

9

8

11

8

11

8

9

13

7

9

9

General Motors / GM

5

4

6

4

6

5

5

6

4

6

4

Chevrolet

4

4

4

5

5

3

4

7

4

4

5

McDonald's

4

3

3

4

5

4

6

5

2

6

2

Coca-Cola

4

3

2

5

4

3

4

5

4

4

4

Walmart

3

3

3

4

3

6

2

3

2

3

4

Harley-Davidson

1

2

3

1

1

*

2

2

2

2

1

Apple

1

1

1

1

1

2

1

1

1

2

1

General Electric / GE

1

2

2

1

1

1

2

*

1

1

1

Johnson & Johnson

1

*

2

1

2

*

*

1

2

1

1

Microsoft

1

1

1

1

1

1

*

*

2

1

*

Pepsi

1

1

1

1

*

1

1

1

1

1

1

Procter & Gamble

1

2

*

1

-

-

*

1

2

*

1

Kraft

1

1

1

*

1

1

1

1

-

*

1

Levi Strauss

1

1

1

*

1

*

1

2

*

1

1

Disney / Walt Disney

1

1

*

1

*

*

1

*

1

1

*

IBM

1

*

*

1

*

*

*

*

1

1

*

Other

8

8

7

8

8

10

6

7

7

9

7

None

9

7

8

9

10

7

8

9

10

6

11

Don't know

15

16

14

18

12

12

14

16

18

7

22

Declined to answer

5

7

5

6

4

7

7

6

3

5

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

Methodology
This Harris Poll* was conducted online within the United States between December 12 and 18, 2012 among 2,176 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

*Data for "What company do you consider to be most 'American'" question was conducted online within the United States between January 2 and 4, 2012 among 2,126 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #13, March 6, 2013

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients—stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.com

SOURCE Harris Interactive



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