Country of Origin: What’s in a Name?

Whenever possible, our family tries to purchase goods that are manufactured in the U.S.A.  If that’s not an option, we at least try to choose items from countries we can feel okay about supporting.  China falls very low on our sourcing hierarchy, and as we all know, their merchandise dominates virtually every store shelf one might browse.

One marketing practice for imported goods that’s particularly fascinating—and which I’ve succumbed to myself—is the inclusion of misleading iconic phrases in product and business names.  Take for instance Virginia Mill Works’ Colonial Handscraped hardwood flooring.  Can’t you just envision a traditional American craftsman, spending hours in his workshop, carefully running his trusty plane along the grain of domestic hardwoods?  You can imagine my shock when the shipment arrived at my house and the boxes were emblazoned with the “Made in China” proclamation.  I guess I’ve seen too many episodes of New Yankee Workshop.

How about the Icelandic Salmon I used to buy at Sam’s Club?  You might guess that Icelandic Salmon comes from…drum roll, please…Iceland.  But you’d be wrong.  “Icelandic” is the name of the company, silly.  And believe me, the fillets in those little vacuum pouches have never spent a moment swimming the chilly waters of the North Atlantic.

The logo for JC Penney’s American Living brand features a bald eagle regally poised with an American flag clutched in his talons.  It’s enough to make you want to say The Pledge of Allegiance.  And the “Savannah” bedding set from this collection looks as if it would be right at home in any plantation boudoir.  But vast though this product line is, I have yet to find a single piece of merchandise that was made in the U.S.A.

I’m onto this shtick now, so whenever I see a name that makes me feel warm, fuzzy, or patriotic, I start looking for the country of origin.  If I can’t find the information in fairly short order, I’ve been known to call the manufacturer from the store.  Nine times out of ten, if it sounds like it’s not made it China, you can bet it is.  It seems like the people of Virginia or Iceland or America would be a little miffed at having their geographic identities and good reputations hijacked.  The folks in Parma and Champagne don’t put up with these shenanigans.  Neither should we.

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 3:01 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. The Trends Research Institute just released some encouraging predictions for 2010:

    -Consumers will deliver a big “NO” to unrestrained globalism

    -A “Not Made in China” crusade will lead to trade wars and protectionism… See More

    -Small manufacturers will be able to build thriving micro-brands

    The institute’s founder, Gerald Celente, referenced the economic Golden Rule (those who have the gold rule) as a call to action for buying local and ceasing the transfer of wealth and power to China.

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