Watchdog group calls out Wal-Mart for 'deceptive' Made in USA claims
- Ad watchdog group Truth in Advertising (TINA) has alerted the Federal Trade Commission of "deceptive" "Made in USA" claims on Wal-Mart's website, according to a press release from the group.
- TINA says its investigation of items available on Walmart.com found more than 100 products mislabeled "Made in USA." According to the group, these products are either manufactured outside the country, made of imported parts and assembled in the U.S., or have conflicting origin information on the webpage.
- Wal-Mart dropped all "Made in USA" logos from its website following an FTC probe into its manufacturing claims. Since then the retailer has redesigned the logo, according to the FTC, detailing how much of a product was made domestically and how much was manufactured overseas.
Wal-Mart has been in the spotlight for "Made in USA" labels on its website before, in a similar investigation from TINA in June and July last year. The retailer cooperated with the FTC then, after which the agency dropped its probe.
The fight around "Made in the USA" labels and similar tags has been fought by many retailers, from Wal-Mart to high-end watchmaker Shinola. The FTC is famously persnickety about the qualifications for items labeled "Made in USA," and perhaps for good reason: according to a 2015 Consumer Reports survey, eight in 10 Americans would rather buy an item made in America rather than one imported from abroad. What's more, more than 60% said they would pay 10% more for a product displaying the "Made in USA" tag.
Stocking "Made in USA" items on its website could help Wal-Mart shed the idea held by many that it relies heavily on overseas products to stock its massive inventory. The retailer made a pledge in 2013 to buy an extra $250 billion in U.S.-made goods to help revive American manufacturing.
These increased probes are not helping Wal-Mart with its image, even if it does respond quickly and drop all the contested claims from its website. Once more, the timing of the TINA announcement is unfortunate for the retailer: Wal-Mart is hosting its 2016 U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Bentonville, AR on Wednesday, which includes an open call for U.S.-made products.
UPDATE: After reaching out to Wal-Mart for a comment on the news, Retail Dive recieved the following statement via email:
“Today we were able to give hundreds of businesses with U.S.-made products an opportunity to land their items onWalmart.com. It’s just another way we can give our customers great products while also supporting our commitment to purchase an additional $250 billion in products that support American jobs. These claims are not new, and as we’ve said all along, we will continue to work with our suppliers to help ensure we are giving our customers the transparency and authenticity they are looking for.”