Walmart promotes and takes heat for ‘Made in USA’ goods
The Fourth of July is near. This is the time of year for companies to wrap their brands in the American flag. While generally a winning strategy, some can find themselves entangled in controversy when critics question whether their pro-American rhetoric aligns with corporate actions. Take Walmart for example.
For the third straight year, Walmart has given entrepreneurs the opportunity in its “Made in the USA” Open Call to pitch products to the chain. Items selected by Walmart’s buyers to be sold on Walmart.com and, in some instances, in its stores and clubs will be made, assembled or grown in the U.S. The Open Call is part of Walmart’s annual U.S. Manufacturing Summit held at the company’s headquarters. The retailer made a pledge in 2013 to purchase an additional $250 billion in U.S. made products by 2023.
Last October, it was revealed that Walmart had been under Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation for identifying products on its website as “Made in the U.S.A.” when they were not. At the time, the FTC said the investigation had been concluded when Walmart agreed to remove logos incorrectly identifying products as being domestically produced. The retailer blamed the issue on coding errors.
Unfortunately for Walmart, an advertising watchdog group claims the retailer is continuing to misidentify goods made outside America as being manufactured here. The group, Truth in Advertising.org (TINA), has sent a letter to the FTC asking the commission to address errors on Walmart.com, which it claims should have been taken care of already, considering the company’s commitment to do so last year.
TINA claims to have discovered over 100 “misrepresentations” on the site, including instances in which Walmart has labeled an item as being made in the U.S. even though the manufacturer “indicates that it was made, either in whole or in part,” elsewhere. There are also instances when the site contradicts itself with copy that says an item is made in American while in other places saying it may contain imported components.
- Hundreds of New Products Land on Walmart.com During ‘Made in the USA’ Open Call – Walmart Stores
- Walmart’s Continuing Use of False and Deceptive Made in USA Representations – Truth in Advertising.org
- ‘Made in U.S.A.’ labels out on Walmart.com – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s your assessment of Walmart’s public campaign around goods made in America, now that it is several years in? Is Walmart more or less vulnerable to criticism about wrapping itself in the American flag today than it was before its first U.S. Manufacturing Summit held four years ago?