Making Sense of "Made in the USA"
In the promotional industry, American manufacturing has its obvious benefits. Product safety, from basic toxicity concerns to complicated cases of fraud and counterfeiting, is easier to enforce and count on since it falls under the watchful (and litigious) eye of the U.S. legal system. Stateside orders, especially custom ones, can often be filled faster since there's no delay from shipping overseas. Similarly, inventories are more responsive to runs and massive purchases, making stock shortages less common. Practical and easy-to-understand benefits to be sure, but hardly the main reason for people's interest in American manufacturing.
More than anything else, the core of the "Buy American" argument comes down to a kind of financial patriotism: Buy within the country to make the country stronger. More money spent equals more jobs, which equals more money, which equals even more jobs, and so on. Makes sense, right? Or does it seem too simple? It turns out the answer is, "Kind of, but not really."
While what drives a healthy economy with a high standard of living is a complicated mess of various factors, the core argument of "buy within the country to make it stronger" is actually pretty solid reasoning. By looking at an economic concept called "GDP," it becomes immediately clear that American manufacturing is profoundly tied to the health of the U.S. economy.
An obvious statement? Maybe, but in an industry such as ours that is so closely tied to manufacturing, it's beneficial to understand how different manufacturing sources can affect the economy in different ways. So, whether you're trying to nudge a client toward buying American or whether you're on the fence yourself, below is an explanation, albeit a bit simplified, of GDP and how it justifies American manufacturing as an unquestionable good for the economy.
WHAT IS GDP?
GDP, or "Gross Domestic Product" is the total measure of everything a country has produced and sold over a given period of time (usually measured at yearly or quarterly intervals). The "Product" in GDP does not refer merely to physical goods, but also services, investments, ideas, literally anything that can be bought. And that's the only catch—it has to be bought. If a painter paints a portrait solely for himself to look at, it doesn't count toward GDP since he's not trading it. If he hangs it in a gallery and lets people look at it for free, it's still not contributing to GDP, because again, the portrait is not being sold. But, if the painter sells artwork through the gallery, and the portrait is one of the items he sells, then it counts toward GDP. Simple enough, right? Every product, every service, every saleable thing a country makes, that's GDP.