Perception of Country of Origin: A Cross Cultural Study to Approach Profiling Consumers
|School||Wuhan University of Technology|
|Keywords||Consumer Expectations Country of Origin Consumer Profiles Cross Cultural Study and Developing Country Context|
In contemporary marketplace, it is obvious to see foreign made products with intense competition around the world. Consumer evaluations of foreign products vary, depending on consumer perceptions of country of origin of foreign products. Though marketing literature is replete with the studies on the effects of country of origin in foreign product evaluation, it seems that there is a void in exploring the contributory causes behind different perceptions of country of origin of foreign products.Consumer expectations from foreign products were considered in this study, as one of the bases which can be used to examine consumer inner feelings and dynamics and whereby to identify how consumers respond to country of origin of foreign products. Accordingly, this study endeavored to explore possible consumer profiles, founded on what consumers expect from foreign products, which insight the causatives behind the formation of different country of origin perceptions. In addition, the study was conducted as a cross-cultural study involving Sri Lanka and China, since it is required to conduct country of origin studies in cross-cultural and developing country contexts, in this globalization arena. Data for the study were collected through the administration of a formal questionnaire in China and Sri Lanka. 550 and 451 respondents were selected from China and Sri Lanka respectively by utilizing cluster and convenience sampling procedures for both contexts. The questionnaire was developed with 21 attribute measures of perceptions of country of origin of foreign products to identify consumer expectations from foreign products, anchored with seven point Likert scales. The study was a conjoint study where it employed Factor Analysis in order to explore possible consumer profiles. Kruskal Wallis one-way ANOVA and Mann Whitney tests were conducted to test the set of hypotheses of the study. Cronbach’s Alpha was used to ensure the reliability of the study constructs i.e. Consumer Profiles and Perception of Country of Origin.The Factor Analyses identified four consumer profiles i.e. Conviviality, Novelty, Searching and Economic in Chinese context, while it identified five consumer profiles in the Sri Lankan context i.e. Conviviality, Novelty, Searching, Relaxation and Economic. It revealed that different cultures have different sets of consumer expectations from foreign products. Thus, Kruskal Wallis and Mann Whitney tests revealed that consumer demographics have significant impact on perceptions of country of origin of foreign products in both contexts. Cronbach’s Alpha ensured the reliability of each study construct.The study derived a more comprehensive and valid approach dealing with consumer expectations from foreign products which provide insights on searching consumer cognitive aspect of foreign product evaluation. The resultant scale was acronymized as PCOOSCALE. Subsequently, the study showed how PCOOSCALE can be incorporated into National Branding Strategic Process from policy formulation perspective and provided insights to how marketing strategies are to be formulated with different product categories to different consumer profiles. Accordingly, it can be argued that the country image should enhance the credibility of using ’the country’s image’ as a signal of how it can increase consumer expected utility and PCOO attribute measures must be used in communication campaigns as to reinforce how the country image can increase consumer expected utility.The limitations of the present study have been pointed out with providing future research directions at the end.