The hottest trends are out for 2013 and they offer important insights into how small business may best tap into consumer behaviors.
Four years of a down-turned economy appears to be turning upward, says Business on Main’s Rieva Lesonsky, with the economy beginning to grow, confidence increasing among consumers and small business owners, and solid holiday shopping a sure sign of a surge for start-ups.
One major movement is that of “Made in the USA.” There has been a revitalization of the American brand and entrepreneurs and small business are jumping on this in earnest, says Lesonsky pointing to a report by James Fallows, an award-winning journalist writing in The Atlantic. “Manufacturing’s share of the total American economy … went from about 20 percent in the early 1980s to just over 10 percent now … for the first time in decades, I have been hearing upbeat accounts from business officials and entrepreneurs engaged in American manufacturing,” Fallows writes.
In another interview in that publication, Harry Moser, who runs the business assessment organization, The Reshoring Initiative, told author Charles Fishman that, “About 60 percent of the companies that off-shored manufacturing didn’t really do the math. They looked only at the labor rate—they didn’t look at the hidden costs.” Fishman reported that Moser feels that some 25 percent of what is made outside of the U.S. “could be more profitably made at home,” according to Lesonsky’s report.
So-called “Reshoring,” is making its way into a number of industries, says Mitch Lipka of Reuters. Earlier this year, retail giant, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., announced plans to spend $50 billion over the next decade to broaden “onshore U.S. production in high-potential areas and textiles, furniture and higher-end appliances.” The move is significant, says Lipka, for a retailer known for its massive imported goods selections.
Technology leviathan, Apple Inc., also announced plans to build some products in its iMac line in the U.S., not China, as have Ford Motor Co., Coleman Co., of Jarden Corp., and Master Lock Co., of Fortune Brands Home & Security Co. The list grows, Lipka notes.
Although a patriotic allegiance has prompted many consumers to buy American, business has long been focused on the immediate finances of production. “They run the numbers and say ‘We can deliver just as cheaply from a U.S. operation as we can from, say, China.’ It has some nice extra benefits,” says Dan Seiver, chief economist for Reilly Financial Advisors, a wealth management firm in San Diego, California. “Whatever credit goes with it is fine,” Seiver tells Reuters.
But off-shoring is no longer offering the same benefits in an economy in which consumers do not want to compromise American jobs for a more-cheaply produced product. That’s changing, too, with manufacturing and shipping costs on the rise in off-shore locations, such as China, Lipka writes. And some experts, Roger Simmermaker, author of “How Americans Can Buy American” among them, believe that products made in the USA are typically of a safer and better quality than products made elsewhere.
There are upsides to reshoring, says Lesonsky; some local governments offer incentives to do so. Lipka points out that many see that buying American from U.S.-owned firms boosts the American economy,creates jobs, and brings the final product closer to the consumer and with greater flexibility, customization, and delivery.
Whether for patriotism or profits, Made in the USA appears to be a win-win for consumers and manufacturers alike.
Lesonsky, Rieva. MSN Business on Main, “The Hottest Business Trends of 2013.”
Lipka, Mitch. Reuters, “Made in America Label Stages Comeback in Stores.” 5/3/13.