Strategic implications of product and country images

Date of publication: September 1, 1988


As international trade grows and consumer are faced with an increasing proliferation of foreign brands in their domestic markets, they increasingly use country of origin cues as an aid in evaluating products. At the same time, producers needing to establish unique positions in highly competitive markets, and government needing to protect domestic producers from imports, make increasing use of a variety of product origin cues in advertising, packaging, labelling, and branding. In spite of growing interest in the effects of the made-in concept on buyer behaviour, little is known about the correlates of product images and about the effects of such images on behaviour. This study proposes a model of the country of origin effects. The model was tested using LISREL, a second generation analytical procedure, on data drawn from a large-scale cross-national study of made-in images. The model suggests that buyer behaviour is affected by consumer evaluations about various foreign products, that product evaluations are dependent on consumer beliefs about these products' quality, and that these beliefs are strongly affected by consumer familiarity with products from a given country, and by beliefs about the country itself and its people. Strategic implications arising from the model, which was validated in eight separate tests, are discussed.

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