How we research

May 13, 2020

The vast majority of our resources have gone towards research. We have talked to a lot of people about why they buy local and what’s important to them, and we try to apply that standard and the FTC standard to marking a product or company as Made in the USA in our database.

The FTC standard is:

For a product to be called Made in USA, or claimed to be of domestic origin without qualifications or limits on the claim, the product must be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S. SOURCE

For many goods the manufacturer is not required to say where it’s been made, however if they do say it, on their website, in an email or on the packaging, they need to comply with that FTC standard. According to the FTC you are allowed to make qualifying statements, you can say “Made in the USA of foreign components” or “Made in the USA of domestic or foreign components” however we don’t include those in our database. If in the course of our research a manufacturer won’t tell us or ignores our requests, which happens the majority of the time, they just aren’t included in our database.

An infographic showing how we research

In stage one of our research we:

  • Look through their website for any explicit claims about manufacturing “We manufacture 100% in the USA””We are 100% American Made”.
  • Look for any documentation they may have, for example technical documentation of their products.
  • Look over any certifications they have.

We have found that a simple badge of “Made in the USA” in the footer or header is unreliable, and we ignore that. 

If we find positive signs that they manufacture in the USA, we start an email conversation with them, requesting information on their manufacturing and sourcing practices. If they inform us it’s Made in the USA as per the FTC guidelines, we then look for things to disprove that:

  • We look through product listings on online marketplaces to see if any of the descriptions or reviews claim it’s not made in the USA.
  • We look at the items, either in person or with pictures online to see if we can find any manufacturing claims on them.
  • We Google search a wide variety of connected keywords to the company, seeing if anyone else has found evidence they aren’t being truthful. 

We also apply a lot of common sense to their statements, if the product they are selling is almost never made in the USA, or if it’s surprisingly cheap, or if it looks identical to something else we know is made in a foreign company we will send another email raising our specific concerns and making sure they know that it has to be entirely made in the USA to be able to make that claim. If all these things come up okay we add the company to our database as made in the USA and let you guys run across it as you shop. We go to great lengths to ensure we’ve got the best information possible, as it’s imperative that our users trust our results, otherwise our tools are useless. We are confident that we’ve got a good system that produces reliable results, and will be contacting the FTC to report any egregious breaches of their regulations that we run across.

Gareth Struivig de Groot is the founder of Buy Localized. He originally hails from Vancouver, and he is passionate about helping people get informed about where the things they purchase come from.
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