Country of origin as a determinant of young Europeans` buying attitudes — marketing implications
Research background: Country of origin and brand image are among the main factors influencing consumer buying decisions. The phenomenon known as the Country of Origin Effect (COE) refers to the influence of a country’s image on consumer product evaluations and the perception of brands originating from specific countries. The COE describes consumer attitudes towards certain product categories and is connected with the perception of quality of such products manufactured in particular markets. The changing market conditions and proliferation of hybrid products cause certain problems for consumers who find it increasingly difficult to identify the country of origin of specific products and face a dilemma whether a product manufactured in China is of equal quality as a product of the same brand, but manufactured in France.
Purpose of the article: The main purpose of the paper is to identify the young Europeans` attitudes towards the country of origin of purchased products. An attempt has been made to answer two research questions: firstly, whether are young Europeans guided by stereotypes associated with the country of origin of specific product categories in their conscious buying decisions? Secondly, do young European consumers attach higher value to a product’s brand than its country of origin?
Methods: The analysis has been based on literature studies and empirical data collected in two different period of time 2008 and 2015 among 1362 respondents (in 2008) and 1125 respondents (in 2015) from eight European countries (Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Great Britain). In the exploratory empirical study, the author of the paper used two research methods: PAPI in 2008 (Paper and Pen Personal Interview) and CAWI in 2015 (Computer Assisted Web Interview).
Findings & Value added: The study results reveal that in some countries, namely Poland and the Czech Republic, young consumers are guided in their deliberate buying choices by certain mental schematics perpetuated, for example, in the mass media (the best wine comes from France, best watches are made in Switzerland, and superior quality cars originate from Germany). Respondents representing other nationalities showed more support for domestic products. By far, the most ethnocentric in their choices turned out to be the French who in almost all product categories showed preferences for products originating from their country. Furthermore, the empirical study showed that with respect to different product categories young European consumers attach more importance to a product’s brand than its country of origin.
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