Online Exclusive: ICMAD Seminar Provides ‘Made in USA’ Advice

Why ‘Made in USA’ products can help companies succeed in overseas markets.

By Sheila Sebor, VP, Operations, ICMAD
[Editor’s note: This article is reprinted from the ICMAD Digest with permission from ICMAD.]

On Wednesday, June 20, ICMAD provided attendees at HBA Global Expo with many good reasons why “Made in USA” products can help companies succeed in overseas markets. Moderated by ICMAD education committee chair Pamela Viglielmo, thesession featured Jetta DeNend, international trade
specialist, New York City Export Assistance Center, U.S. Commercial Services; Kelly Kovack, partner, Brand Growth Management; and Patty Schmucker, president, DoshaCare.

Pamela thanked ICMAD for hosting the session and said the association provides great programs and services to benefit the entrepreneurial side of the beauty business.

Becoming a Global Player

Jetta DeNend began with a presentation entitled, “How the U.S. Government Can Ensure You’re a Global Player.” She recommended that companies marketing
products made in the USA “capitalize on a proven winner,” because there is “an intrinsic value to American design.” She said the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) International Trade Administration employs 300 trade specialists domestically who help U.S. companies export to the world. There are 150 staffed offices in 100 countries that can help companies find overseas partners, for a total of about 1,500 people to find international distributors, buyers and agents to foster overseas exports.

DeNend said the U.S. government is sponsoring a National Export Initiative, to “double exports in five years.” This initiative will make more resources available to U.S. companies, as current statistics show that “fewer than one percent of U.S. companies export their products. She detailed the “export toolbox of resources” available under the initiative. Much market research can be found on the DOC’s website,

Considerations for entering the global beauty market include:

1) adapting product designs to the local culture;
2) engineering and design;
3) localization–keep the USA cachet but add local flavor with different ingredients;
4) branding is the key.

In closing, she stated that international consumers see U.S. products as high quality and “on the edge,” especially for the younger generation.

Design with a Process

Kelly Kovack discussed “Designing with an American Sensibility.” Kelly presented information on how to leverage a “Made in the USA” position. There is a particularly American style, which began a number of years ago with men’s fashions. The images American products evoke include sustainability, the green movement, localism, supporting local business, heritage and authenticity. She cited Kiehl’s as an example of an iconic brand manufactured in the USA, and mentioned a number of small brands that reflect an American heritage in a modern way. She noted that promoting American made products needs to go beyond the “Made in USA” label; companies need to leverage the claim on all of their touchpoints.

Exclusively American

Pamela Viglielmo spoke on “USA Only Stores and Why This Model Works.” She detailed the American beauty shopping experience, from prestige to TV channels. The prestige channel is specifically American, and includes national retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
Second tier retailers, operating at different price points, include Macy’s, the biggest department store in the world, Lord & Taylor and JC Penney, which has tapped heavily into “buy American” promotions. “Big Box” retailers can move volumes of product and include Sam’s Club, Costco Wholesale and BJ’s. American chain drugstores provide another channel for U.S.-made products, and include Walgreens, Duane Reade, CVS and RiteAid. Other retail channels include premium outlets, where consumers are shopping “by the busload,” superstores such as Target, Kohl’s and WalMart and the TV shopping channels. QVC, ShopNBC and HSN have embraced beauty products and are distinctively American.

Homegrown with a Twist

Patty Schmucker provided a case study presentation on her company, DoshaCare. The brand is an example of “an American expression of an Eastern tradition,” using ayurvedic concepts in a very American way. The company’s components and ingredients are sourced in the U.S. as well as compounded and filled here. The market demand for American made products also has been impacted by outside forces such as subpar foods and products being imported from China and clothing made by “serf labor” in other countries.

There are a number of reasons why “Made in USA” products are in demand: quality; integrity (following certain rules); inspiration; aspirational; social and environmental contribution. She noted it is easier in the U.S. to create buzz because the market offers a more level playing field. She recommended a website created specifically for American-made beauty

Complete copies of the presentations are available by contacting the ICMAD office, 800-334-2623 or email