We are pleased to publish online the first Virtual Special Issue, VSI, based on seven excellent papers published in the Journal of Global Marketing during 2013-2017. The theme of this VSI is on the Country-Of-Origin, COO, research, which investigates the impact of the product's origin on consumers and consumer choice behavior. Although highly explored in the past, the COO research area seems to continue to hold many unanswered questions and opportunities for future research. In a globalized world, customers are exposed to products originating from all over the world, including the countries in which they have either limited or no personal knowledge. Nevertheless, consumers hold – often strong – opinions on these foreign countries and formulate their purchase decisions on the product’s country of origin (COO), which is an extrinsic cue such as price or brand name. Consumers prefer products originating from countries with a favorable image and tend to avoid products from countries with a non-favorable image. These perceptions about specific countries, e.g. Germany, Italy, China, and the USA, are not uniform and vary depending on several dimensions such as the nationality or cultural affiliation of the customer, and the product category. For example, cars made in Germany may be perceived to be of high quality, while silk may be perceived to be superior if it originates from China. Similarly, British customers may feel differently about products originating from Germany and China than, say, Taiwanese customers. In this VSI on COO research, we have included seven recent articles from the Journal of Global Marketing that add significantly to the understanding of COO effects in very diverse cultural settings, using different methodological approaches.
In this empirical paper, Tsai et al. (2013) assess the impact of consumer ethnocentrism on preferences for domestic and foreign products in four product categories. The sample consisted of American, Korean, and Chinese customers who evaluated products originating from six different countries, including the respondent’s home country. The authors found that ethnocentrism is strongest amongst American consumers and that it does not always lead to higher product preference, e.g. in the case of Chinese customers.
In their paper on pre-purchase brand avoidance, Khan and Lee (2014) assess the moderating role of COO familiarity on the relationship between animosity and brand avoidance. Using a mainly male Pakistani sample, the authors confirm that increased COO familiarity strengthens the relationship between animosity and brand avoidance attitude.
The topic of this excellent paper is on the role of COO in celebrity endorsement. In two studies, Roy and Bagdare (2015) investigate the effects of global vs. local celebrity endorsers of global, local, and third-country brands, on consumer attitudes toward the advertisement, brand, purchase intention and advertising recall. Amongst other findings, the authors conclude that both a celebrity-brand COO match and the use of a global celebrity for a brand with a different COO create a favorable impact on consumer attitudes.
The fourth paper is an excellent response to the increasing call for replications in the field of COO research. Aichner et al. (2016) is a replication study that examines subcultural differences on country and product evaluations of German-speaking South Tyroleans and Italian-speaking South Tyroleans, who live in the most northern Italian region. The current research study uses the same methodology that was used in Laroche et al. (2003). Even though globalization theory assumes that one culture is going to dominate all the others, this research study shows that in reality there are established minorities within geographical areas that are not being integrated into the dominant culture of the respective country. This finding is in line with the views of researchers who argue that the effects of globalization are overestimated (Collinson and Rugman 2008). Overall, it can be confirmed that both country and product evaluation differ between subcultural groups within the same country or region because they are influenced by cultural ties and language, e.g. in the case of Italian South Tyrolians with their “motherland” Italy. Thus, the study confirms that a country/region and/or nationalities may not be a suitable proxy for culture and may therefore not be a suitable variable for COO studies.
The fifth paper by Wu et al. (2016) is an excellent paper that investigates effects of COO facets and country stereotypes on advertising effectiveness. The authors use the decomposition of the COO concept. That is based on the fact that a large number of products in the current global market are the results of the cooperation between two or more countries. Given that a unidimensional concept cannot reflect the multi-national nature of contemporary products, COO is believed as multidimensional and can be decomposed into different facets, such as country-of-assembly (COA) and country-of-design (COD). The results present a matchup effect between COO facets and country stereotypes. The results of the empirical study show a more favorable attitude towards the advertisement when the participants see COA with a functional country (e.g., Germany) or COD with an emotional country (e.g., Italy). Product types (utilitarian vs. hedonic) do not influence such a matchup effect. Another significant contribution of this study is the demonstration of the effect of COO on consumers’ attitude toward advertisement. The paper also provides theoretical and practical implications of the findings as well as future research directions.
The sixth paper by Rashid (2017) is a theoretical paper. It addresses an important question that was raised in Bilky and Nes (1994) - “whether, and to what extent, other cues—such as a well-known brand name, a product guarantee, or a prestigious retailer—can compensate for a negative county-of-origin cue?” In other words, how and to what extent the COO effect can be weakened. This question was addressed by developing a theoretical framework of COO effect on product evaluation. The author assumed that consumers are induced by three different processing routes and parameters specific to product-related, brand-related, and ethics-related factors to subsume or neutralize the effect of unfavorable COO. The COO cue was conceptualized to be processed by consumers along three dimensions, namely, cognitive processing, affective processing, and normative processing. In the proposed framework, ethnocentrism, cross-border mobility, price-quality, and personal values were designated as the moderating variables, while brand symbolism was conceptualized as a mediating variable. The paper discusses implications of the proposed framework and directions for future research.
The final paper in this VSI by Al Ganideh (2017) explores Arab Americans’ ethnocentric tendencies in buying American-made products. The author examined the role of empathic feelings towards US workers as a mediating variable in determining the effect of ethnic identification, patriotism, dogmatism, and internationalism as potential influences on Arab Americans’ethnocentric tendencies towards purchasing US products. A conceptual model was presented, and nine hypotheses were developed. The hypotheses were empirically tested using a sample size of 165 from various communities in Detroit and its metropolitan area, Michigan, dubbed as the “Capital fo Arab America.” The empirical study yielded some interesting and important results. For example, they found that Arab Americans’ ethnic identification neither influenced their ethnocentric tendencies towards American-made products, nor their empathic feelings towards American workers. But the Arab Americans’ empathic feelings toward local workers were found to be positively related to their ethnocentric tendencies toward purchasing American made products. Furthermore, the authors found the patriotic feelings towards America were positively related to purchasing local products while dogmatism and internationalism do not influence the level of consumer ethnocentrism Arab Americans express towards American products.
We would like to thank Associate Editors, Editorial Review Board members, and ad hoc reviewers for their time and effort in providing highest quality feedback to the authors in shaping the seven papers included in this Virtual Special Issue. We also sincerely appreciate the invaluable support from the editorial, production, and marketing staff of Taylor and Francis.
Aichner, T., Coletti, P., Forza, C., Perkmann, U., and Trentin, A. (2016). Effects of subcultural
differences on country and product evaluations: A replication study, Journal of Global Marketing, 29(3), 115-127.
Al Ganideh, S.F. (2017). Being Arab and American: Understanding ethnocentric tendencies for
Arab American consumers. Journal of Global Marketing, 30(20), 72-86.
Bilkey, W. J., & Nes, E. (1982). Country of origin effects on product evaluation. Journal of
International Business Studies, 8(1), 89–99.
Collinson, S. C., & Rugman, A. M. (2008). The regional nature of Japanese multinational
business. Journal of International Business Studies, 39(2), 215–230.
Khan, M.A., and Lee, M.S.W. (2014). Prepurchase determinants of brand avoidance: The
moderating role of country-of-origin familiarity. Journal of Global Marketing, 27(5), 329-343.
Laroche, M., Papadopoulos, N., Heslop, L., & Bergeron, J. (2003). Effects of subcultural
differences on country and product evaluations. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 2(3), 232- 247.
Rashid, M.S. (2017). Weakening the Effect of Unfavorable Country of Origin: A Process- and
Parameter-Associated Theoretical Framework. Journal of Global Marketing, 30(2), 87-98.
Roy, S. and Bagdare, S. (2015). The Role of Country of Origin in Celebrity Endorsements: Integrating Effects of Brand Familiarity. Journal of Global Marketing, 28(3-5), 133-151.
Tsai, W. S., Yoo, J. J., and Lee, W. (2013). For love of country? Consumer ethnocentrism in
China, South Korea, and the United States. Journal of Global Marketing, 26(2). 98-114.
Wu, L., Ju, I., and Dodoo, N.A. (2016). Understanding the impact of matchup between country-of-origin facets and country stereotypes on advertising effectiveness. Journal of Global Marketing, 29(4), 203-217.
Alfaisal University, Saudi Arabia
Ajay K. Manrai
University of Delaware, USA