Made in America isn't simple to define or buy. Now what?

CNET reporters tackle the gap between our perception and the industry realities as our appetite for American-made products increases.

Brian Cooley Editor at Large
Brian Cooley is CNET's Editor at large and has been with the brand since 1995. He currently focuses on electrification of vehicles but also follows the big trends in smart home, digital healthcare, 5G, the future of food, and augmented & virtual realities. Cooley is a sought after presenter by brands and their agencies when they want to understand how consumers react to new technologies. He has been a regular featured speaker at CES, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and the Publicis HealthFront. He was born and raised in Silicon Valley when Apple's campus was mostly apricots.
Expertise Automotive technology, smart home, digital health. Credentials
  • 5G Technician, ETA International
Brian Cooley
2 min read

A lot of Americans have an appetite for products that are made in America, but when you try to define what those are, things get complicated. Now what?

"How do we define what 'made in America' is these days?" asks Ian Sherr, CNET editor at large, who wrote the article about why your iPhone may never be made in the USA. Many products that claim to be American-made are composed of ingredients or sub-assemblies from other countries, and that doesn't apply only to complex products like cars or electronics. "The hand cream that I used this morning says it was made in America, but with imported ingredients," Sherr says. 

Sub-Zero manufacturing in America

Sub-Zero and Wolfe appliances are some of the more substantial products that are made in America. A number of appliances brands are also made domestically even as Korean brands LG and Samsung have made major inroads on the category.

Sub-Zero Group

Federal Trade Commission regulations that govern the use of a Made in USA label are complex, and US Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Angus King (I-Maine) have introduced a bill to harmonize the conflicting definitions across state and federal jurisdictions.

Robert Rodriguez/CNET

Even filmed entertainment, arguably America's strongest and most quintessential global export, has become more complex than the label "Hollywood" suggests. "You really do think of Hollywood as being the most American export," says Abrar Al-Heeti, CNET staff reporter. "But a lot of countries lure away those productions," including Canada, Australia, Germany, South Africa, Hungary, Ireland and the Czech Republic. Eye the credits next time you watch a supposed "Hollywood" movie and you may be surprised that it's an international co-production, siphoning jobs that used to be based almost entirely in Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta.

Ian Sherr and Abrar Al-Heeti shared many more thoughts on the nature and future of "Made in America" with CNET's Brian Cooley as part of our condoning coverage of this complicated issue. Watch their video conversation for more insights.


Now What is a video interview series with industry leaders, celebrities and influencers that covers trends impacting businesses and consumers amid the "new normal." There will always be change in our world, and we'll be here to discuss how to navigate it all.