Country of Origin Effects on Marketing: How Brands from Certain Countries Score Over the Others

What is a County of Origin Effect?

COO or Country of Origin Effect refers to the practice of marketers and consumers associating brands with countries and making buying decisions made on the country of origin of the product. For instance, as we shall discuss later, we tend to associate quality with the Japanese and precision with the Swiss. This means that products and brands from these countries are usually purchased or discarded depending upon our perceptions of the value associated with these countries. In brief, the country of origin effect measures the impact of the country in which the product is made on the consumers. In recent years, there has been a lot of research on how the COO effect influences consumers and this has led to a renewed effort to associate and dissociate the products from the countries that they are made in. Though association for gains in obvious, what is also to be noted that there can be a negative impact of COO as is evidenced in the examples that are discussed later. It would suffice to state here is that COO must be approached in a scientific manner by conducting market research in the target countries on how the consumers perceive the country in which the brand is made.

Impact of Country of Origin (COO) on Marketing

It has been found that COO has a significant impact on consumer behavior and as we can see some of the taglines like crafted to perfection in Switzerland for the Rolex and the Swatch watches, the COO has a discernible impact on purchasing decisions. Moreover, COO is associated with greater brand recall, as we know that McDonald’s mean American and hence, we tend to associate the brand with the country. Similarly, we tend to associate Coca Cola and Pepsi with the United States and Louis Vuitton and other luxury designer brands with the French. The point here is that in terms of COO, the brand the country get associated together and this can lead to both positives as mentioned above and negatives like banning French Fries in the US after they led the invasion that was opposed by France. Therefore, marketers have to be careful about the kind of COO based branding that they do, as straying from the conventional niche areas can be harmful to their prospects. Further, the fact that once the consumers form brand and country association and brand recall is made accordingly, it becomes hard to change the perceptions afterwards.

Some Real World Examples of Successes and Failures

Most of us tend to associate quality with the Japanese and Precision with Germans. This is the brand association that we form with products made from these countries. For instance, when Japanese cars and automobiles entered the global market in the 1980s, they quickly became synonymous with quality and fuel efficiency. Similarly, the German automobiles were associated with durability, strength, and precision. In the same manner, Swiss watches are known for their perfection and French perfumes are known for their fragrance and chic effect. However, there have been failures as well in the way, COO was perceived to affect the consumers and the best example of this is the failed attempt by British companies to penetrate the automobile market. Though the British auto majors like Rolls Royce and Jaguar were known for their up-market models, they could not make the transition to mass market automobiles as the consumers still associated these companies with old world products rather than the new and emerging companies from Japan and South Korea.

Concluding Thoughts

It is evident from the preceding discussion that COO effect can be harnessed for benefit by the marketers. It is also the case that once the COO turns negative because of some companies rolling out defective and substandard products, it would be difficult for the other companies from that country to push their case effectively with the consumers.


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