American consumers overvalue US-produced apparel, MU study finds

October 30, 2012

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- 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 American consumers to determine the value they place on apparel produced in different countries. She showed participants a cotton shirt, told them it was made in China, and said it sold for $40 in retail stores. 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 consumers.

"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.
-end-


University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Consumers Articles from Brightsurf:

When consumers trust AI recommendations--or resist them
The key factor in deciding how to incorporate AI recommenders is whether consumers are focused on the functional and practical aspects of a product (its utilitarian value) or on the experiential and sensory aspects of a product (its hedonic value).

Do consumers enjoy events more when commenting on them?
Generating content increases people's enjoyment of positive experiences.

Why consumers think pretty food is healthier
People tend to think that pretty-looking food is healthier (e.g., more nutrients, less fat) and more natural (e.g., purer, less processed) than ugly-looking versions of the same food.

How consumers responded to COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has been a catalyst for laying out the different threats that consumers face, and that consumers must prepare themselves for a constantly shifting landscape moving forward.

Is less more? How consumers view sustainability claims
Communicating a product's reduced negative attribute might have unintended consequences if consumers approach it with the wrong mindset.

In the sharing economy, consumers see themselves as helpers
Whether you use a taxi or a rideshare app like Uber, you're still going to get a driver who will take you to your destination.

Helping consumers in a crisis
A new study shows that the central bank tool known as quantitative easing helped consumers substantially during the last big economic downturn -- a finding with clear relevance for today's pandemic-hit economy.

'Locally grown' broccoli looks, tastes better to consumers
In tests, consumers in upstate New York were willing to pay more for broccoli grown in New York when they knew where it came from, Cornell University researchers found.

Should patients be considered consumers?
No, and doing so can undermine efforts to promote patient-centered health care, write three Hastings Center scholars in the March issue of Health Affairs.

Consumers choose smartphones mostly because of their appearance
The more attractive the image and design of the telephone, the stronger the emotional relationship that consumers are going to have with the product, which is a clear influence on their purchasing decision.

Read More: Consumers News and Consumers Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.