Even as the number of Americans embracing a Made-in-USA mindset grows, e.g. buying from stores that carry regionally or locally made products, it is still rather difficult for consumers to optimize their purchasing power and practice a lifestyle that tries to support American products and companies. It is estimated that Americans spend close to 20 percent of their incomes on goods and items that are non-essential needs, an annualized 2.3 trillion dollars from spending tracked in 2015 (Source: bloombergview.com). This means making frequent purchasing choices is intrinsic to our American way-of-life, and therefore the potential for impact is high.
Manufacturing has the largest multiplying effect in the US economy compared to all other sectors, creating more than seven additional jobs per one manufacturing job (Source: themanufacturinginstitute.org). Companies are beginning to reconsider their manufacturing locations and how that influences the bottom line and quality. Creating greater demand through conscientious purchasing can potentially accelerate this shift in some industries. It is estimated that if about 90 percent of Americans reallocated one dollar per day, spending one dollar less on foreign-made goods, and one dollar more on American-made goods, after a year, this could add $109.5 billion to the American economy, which equates to about 2,737,500 new jobs paying $40,000 per year (Source: madeinusa.org)
This IPRO project team will investigate the question: How might we better connect Americans to products that are Made-in-USA? The team will also consider how fair-trade may play into conscientious purchasing.
In the initial weeks, students will develop a broad view of current American consumer spending in relation to products made in the United States vs those that are imported, and understand trends in American jobs in various sectors along with the environmental impact associated with where products are made and purchased. The team will also look at current strategies and tactics for informing consumers about which products are made in the USA, and how such designations, labeling, etc. are determined and by which organizations. During the remaining weeks, the IPRO team will prototype concepts to validate how they might better support consumer decision making and behavior that connects consumers with American products and companies. Outcomes of this IPRO project include designing a web and mobile application with minimum viable product functionality.