Does Patriotism Have Any Marketing Value - Exploratory Findings For the &Quot;Crafted With Pride in U.S.A.&Quot; Campaign

Sayeste Daser, Wake Forest University
Havva J. Meric, East Carolina University
ABSTRACT - This paper is an initial effort to report findings related to consumer response shown to "Buy-American" themes. It is hoped that it will encourage rigorous future research that would study marketing effectiveness of patriotic appeals. The findings of the exploratory study and opinion polls reported here point to growing protectionist attitudes.
[ to cite ]:
Sayeste Daser and Havva J. Meric (1987) ,"Does Patriotism Have Any Marketing Value - Exploratory Findings For the &Quot;Crafted With Pride in U.S.A.&Quot; Campaign", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 14, eds. Melanie Wallendorf and Paul Anderson, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 536-537.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 14, 1987      Pages 536-537

DOES PATRIOTISM HAVE ANY MARKETING VALUE - EXPLORATORY FINDINGS FOR THE "CRAFTED WITH PRIDE IN U.S.A." CAMPAIGN

Sayeste Daser, Wake Forest University

Havva J. Meric, East Carolina University

ABSTRACT -

This paper is an initial effort to report findings related to consumer response shown to "Buy-American" themes. It is hoped that it will encourage rigorous future research that would study marketing effectiveness of patriotic appeals. The findings of the exploratory study and opinion polls reported here point to growing protectionist attitudes.

INTRODUCTION

There has been growing conviction in the country, including the Congress, that some form of trade protection is needed for U.S. industries battered by foreign competition. The most visible of these industries has been the textile industry. At a time when most consumer goods have taken on an overriding aura of legitimacy in the eyes of the consumer the textile industry has been giving a battle on two fronts. The first battle has been lost. The Textile Bill of 1985 that would place restrictions on textile imports has finally been vetoed by the President. The second front attempts to work directly on the final consumer by using a patriotic promotion campaign - "Crafted With Pride in U.S.A." - that would enhance long-term preference for U.S. made goods and therefore help slash textile imports. This approach was recommended to the industry after a nationwide study had been undertaken with consumers in 1981 (Dickerson 1981).

The "Crafted With Pride in U.S.A." campaign was launched in 1983 by the American Fiber, Textile, Apparel Coalition and the American Textile Manufacturers Institution (ATMI) to make consumers more aware of the country of origin of the textile products they buy. This campaign was projected at a $10 million dollar annual budget (American Textile Manufacturer's Institute, 1984). Some of the themes used in this campaign have been the following: (1) American textile products represent the best total value in terms of quality, durability, style, and price; (2) the purchase of an American made good helps to save American jobs; (3) the community will prosper with money going back into the nation's economy. To aid people in spotting the "Mate in U.S.A." label, ATMI lobbied for legislative aid. Effective December 24, 1984, a law passed declaring, "All textiles and apparel made in U.S.A." must bear such labels." (Crafted With Pride in U.S.A. Council, 1984)

The present study was undertaken to explore awareness and attitudes toward patriotic advertising using the example of the "Crafted With Pride in U.S.A." campaign. Its basic objective is to encourage future research that will shed light on the question, "How effective are patriotic appeals?"

A review of the literature indicates that there is no previous empirical research which studied the effectiveness of patriotic advertising appeals. Some writers have proposed that "Buy-American" themes represent admirable patriotism but have weak marketing value (Jackson 1983, p. 2).

In the following sections, the findings of this exploratory study will be discussed in conjunction with the findings of several nationwide polls which have reported about attitudes toward protectionism in general.

METHODOLOGY

This exploratory study was conducted in two locations in North Carolina. The first is Winston-Salem, which is in the urbanized Piedmont region. The economy of the city is largely dependent on international companies like RJR cigarette and Hanes textile companies.- Greenville is closer to the eastern community of tobacco farmers. A telephone survey was used, utilizing a systematic random sample from the telephone book. Selected responses are reported in Table l. Some of the significant differences between the two locations might be due to differences in sample size and other sociocultural differences not measured in this study.

TABLE 1

PERCENTAGE OF RESPONSES PROVIDED TO GIVEN STATEMENTS

DISCUSSION

This exploratory research seems to support the generally held belief that the average consumer - especially in this geographic region hard-hit by import - induced unemployment - supports protectionism. A very high percentage (82% weighted average) favor greater limits put on imports. This is considerably higher than the 1981 study by Dickerson where 55% favored the passing of stronger laws by government to limit textile imports (Dickerson 1981). According to a more recent nationwide poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, such limits were favored by 51% (Hume 1985, p. 1).

Consumers also appear to be highly aware of the issue of "Buy American." A vast majority has seen a television or heard a radio advertisement involving the "Buy American" theme. Still high but a somewhat lower proportion (73 percent compared to 88 percent) of respondents has been aware of the "Crafted With Pride in the U.S.A." campaign. An overwhelmingly favorable reaction was reported toward both "Buy American" and "Crafted With Pride in U.S.A." themes.

Only 42 percent of the respondents (this finding is available only in the first location) reported that they consciously sought "American-Hate" labels. In the earlier Dickerson study (Dickerson 1981), 32.4 percent considered it "very important" that an item of clothing that they purchased was produced in the United States. In the Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll, of the group of people who said they checked clothing labels to see where the garments were made. 76% said that they generally choose an American-made item over an import. Nevertheless, when the same persons were asked to name the two most important factors when shopping for clothes, the garment's origin finished a distant fourth (18%) behind "fit" (64%), "price" (32%) and "style" (25%) (Gilman 1985, Section 2).

On the average, 80% say that they would be willing to pay more for clothing needs and 76% say that they would be willing to pay more for cars in order to have limits on imports. Such tolerance is not shown, however, for buying lesser-quality clothing or cars in order to limit imports. Highly similar results have been reported by the Wall Street Journal - NBC News Poll (Hume 1985. D. 1).

CONCLUSIONS

There is a startling pro-American sentiment revealed in the above exploratory study. This is partly due to the nature of its geographic location. However, other nationwide public opinion polls also have shown that protectionism is becoming a widespread attitude. It will be interesting to see whether this will turn out to be a long-term "grass roots" awareness or not. Furthermore, although patriotic appeals are beginning to achieve results in terms of generating awareness, it will be a much greater challenge to marketers to affect cognitive evaluations and behavioral response. Since consumers do not appear to be willing to tradeoff quality, future promotional campaigns will need to work on perceptions of quality.

Time seems ripe to evaluate the effectiveness of patriotic advertising appeals through empirical research. The following might be general recommendations and questions for future research:

(1) As the above studies suggest, a discrepancy exists between what people say they would do and what they actually do. Experimental or other research methodology common in advertising appeal research would be most useful to capture behavioral response to patriOtic appeals.

(2) It would be appropriate to test the effectiveness of different tones of patriotic advertising. Which works better - optimism, confidence, challenge, anger, wounded pride, etc.? Does a highly visible patriotic tone for advertising help a product in getting higher attention for its other (product-related) messages?

(3) Is the "Crafted With Pride in U.S.A." campaign effective at the national scale? In terms of awareness, positive attitudes, inducing to people to look at labels of origin, and finally purchase?

REFERENCES

Dickerson, Kitty (1981), How Do Consumers Feel About Apparel Imports?: A Summary of the Findings of a National Survey. Columbia: University of Missouri.

Gilman, Hank (1985), "Clothing Shoppers Talk Domestic But Look First For Style, Savings," Wall Street Journal (October 15), Section 2.

Hume, Ellen (1985), "Many Americans Put Blame for Import Ills on Both Japan, U.S.," Wall Street Journal (October 11), p. 1.

Jackson, Gene E. (1983), "Buy American Themes: Admirable Patriotism But Weak Marketing Value," Marketing News (September 16), p. 2.

American Textile Manufacturer's Institute (1984), "Textile Week Spotlights 'Crafted'," Update, 4 (December).

Crafted With Pride in U.S.A. Council, Inc. (1984) "New U.S.A. Label to be Pushed by Aggressive 'Crafted With Pride' At Campaign," New York (November 15).

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