Effects of COO on Brand Image A Case for Made-In-Turkey Products

Consumer behaviour, including buyers’ perceptions and assessments,
have been at the heart of marketing research, studying buyer behaviour
phenomena in global business, as well as buyer behaviour literature.
(Roth & Romeo, 1992). Over 300 articles on country of origin and brand
image have been published with heavy focus on the array of nations as
origins, consumer evaluations, and product categories. Former research
on the phenomena in question indicates that, the country in which a
brand originates has a notable effect on its image for a number of
product categories for individual consumers and industrial buyers alike.
According to (Kaynak & Kara, 2002), it is apparent that the country of
origin influences buyers’ perceptions of the product in question. They
reached these conclusions through quantitative analysis of various
studies conducted with regards to the topic.
Scholars have underlined the fact that purchase decisions that favour a
brand go a long way in enhancing the growth of brand equity. Brand
equity may be referred to as the immense value that is inherent in a
brand name that is well known. It comes around when customers are
willing to pay a higher price for the same quality level thanks to the
product name’s attractiveness (Chu et al, 2010). Brand equity in
marketing literature arises from the customer brand loyalty, brand
awareness, the perceived quality of the brand, as well as the favourable
brand associations and symbolisms that a platform of future earning
streams and competitive advantage. It gives a business entity a loyal
customer franchise that has the capacity to bring significant returns to
the entity (Chu et al, 2010). Irrespective of the definitions that it
takes up, brand equity is a representation of the position of the
product in the consumers’ minds in the marketplace. This, precisely is
a well-established meaningfulness and representation of the brand in the
consumers’ minds that gives the brand name equity. As scholars have
noted, brands are said to have equity in instances where they have the
capacity to influence the behaviour of individuals that behold the brand
and routinizes their attitudes, purchase behaviour and preferences (Chu
et al, 2010).
The information processing theory states that consumers make use of
product cues so as to come up with assessments and beliefs pertaining to
a product, which in turn has a bearing on their behaviours. The
country-of-origin, in general, is viewed as an extrinsic product cue.
Scholars have underlined the fact that customers develop stereotypical
beliefs and perceptions pertaining to products from certain countries,
as well as the attributes of those particular products (Chu et al,
2010). In essence, the image or perception that a country of origin
(COO) arouses in the minds of the consumers has the capacity to arouse
the beliefs of consumers and importers pertaining to the attributes or
characteristics of those products (Podoshen & Andrzejewski, 2012).
Indeed, researchers see the county’s image as the general perceptions
that consumers have pertaining to the quality of products that were made
in certain countries, while others see it as the defined perceptions and
beliefs pertaining to the national quality standard and the
industrialisation of the country (Podoshen & Andrzejewski, 2012). On the
same note, researchers on consumer and marketers’ behaviour have
underlined the fact that information pertaining to the country of
origin, which is shown by the “Made in…” label serves a number of
purposes in the purchase decisions that consumers make. It comes as a
salient feature in the assessment of a product by a consumer, and
stimulates the interest of the consumer in the product (Chaudhuri et al,
2011). In addition, it affects the behavioural intentions of the
consumers, while also influencing their behaviour via effective
processes as is the case for the patriotic feelings of consumers
pertaining to their own country (Koubaa, 2008). It is worth noting that
the overall assessment of a product is affected by the stereotypes that
consumers hold pertaining to the country, that is, the image that is
aroused in the minds of consumers pertaining to the country will shape
the perceptions that the clients have for products emanating from that
country (Chaudhuri et al, 2011). Since the perception of consumers
pertaining to the country of origin will shape their assessment of
products emanating from that country, this has a bearing on their
purchase intention, preference, as well as their choice of specific
brands. This would, essentially, have implications on the brand equity
(Salciuviene et al, 2010).
From the perspective of consumers, the associations that a brand has
with certain countries could influence the brand equity based on the
level of that specific country (Salciuviene et al, 2010). For instance,
consumers may view Spain and France differently with regard to the
degrees of durability and reliability. It is worth noting that the
country of origin effects are seen as extrinsic cues that come with
associations and, consequently influence the perceptions of consumers
resulting to cognitive elaboration on the part of the consumer
(Chaudhuri et al, 2011). Countries that have positive image would
enhance in the popularity of a brand, which would result in enhanced
consumer loyalty. Indeed, consumes may have loyalty to particular
countries, which would result in persistent purchase preferences for
products in those countries (Hamzaoui &Merunka, 2006).
On the same note, Yasin et al (2007) underlined the fact that there
exists a relationship between the image or a country and brand
awareness, with the country image having a considerable effect on the
brand awareness. Countries that have good images usually happen to be
familiar to their consumers and are usually seen as producers or sources
of quality brands and products (Koubaa, 2008).
As a fundamental dimension pertaining to brand equity, scholars have
noted that the perceived quality separates a brand from others through
the provision of enhanced value. Indeed, some researchers see the image
of country of origin as the general perceptions of the consumers about
the quality of the brands and products that are associated with that
country or manufactured in the country (Hamzaoui &Merunka, 2006).
Indeed, there are variations as to the levels of perceived quality
according to the country of origin or the products or brand. Yasin et al
(2007) underlined this notion stating that a positive relationship would
be an indicator that consumers see countries that have a good image as
being immensely advanced as far as efficiency and technological
innovations are concerned, in which case the brands that come from them
would be reliable, as well as of high quality (Grohmann et al, 2013). In
essence, the examination of the relationship between the country of
origin of a product and its brand equity would allow market
practitioners to comprehend the manner in which they can protect, as
well as improve the fundamental essence of the brand with an enhanced
understanding on the quantification of brand equity, not to mention the
aspects that have the capacity to alter the behaviour of consumers and
modify the brand equity (Deshpandé, 2010).
Of course, literature has underlined the incredible necessity of
examining other factors that affect the purchasing decisions and
preferences of consumers. Nevertheless, the assessment of the effect of
the country of origin is equally crucial especially with regard to its
impact on brand name, price, social status and the quality of the
product (Grohmann et al, 2013). However, a large volume of research and
studies have been single-cue studies, which have shown that the effect
of country of origin is markedly reduced once other variables are
included. Indeed, single-cue studies may have overstated the origin
effect, in which case it may be necessary to undertake multi-attribute
studies so as to evaluate the distinctive effects of associated cues
(Lee & Chen, 2008). Comparing single-cue and multi-cue treatments show
that the country of origin effect is much stronger on the ratings of
product quality in single-cue treatments than in multi-cue treatments.
Indeed, research has shown that the country of origin effects become
more powerful with increase in the product risk and complexity, as well
as with decrease in the product’s purchase frequency (Nayir &
Durmusoglu 2008).
With reduced capacity to make judgements, consumers seem to depend more
heavily on extrinsic cues like the country of origin and brand name. In
this regard, research indicates that the effect of features such as
style, price, country of origin and band have an impact on the
assessment of the quality of a product and comes with considerable
impact on their purchase preferences (Deshpandé, 2010). For example,
consumers undertook a negative assessment of the country of origin in
relation to the brand name in instances where the product is
manufactured in less developed countries (Lee & Chen, 2008). A negative
assessment of products that were manufactured in less developed
countries such as Turkey was not overcome by well-recognised brand
names. In addition, the research noted that the country of origin comes
with a significantly more powerful effect compared to the brand name in
the assessment of bi-national products by consumers (Gu et al, 2008). On
the same note, the research has indicated that the integrated country of
origin with varied other intrinsic sues shows that negative effect with
which production locations come may necessitate the establishment or
division of different strategies of marketing and promotion (Nayir &
Durmusoglu 2008).
Moreover, research suggests that the brand name cue evokes beliefs
pertaining to the brand itself, as well as recall pertaining to the
country with which it is associated as its country of origin. This may
be seen in the case of Philips products, which, irrespective of the
country in which they are manufactured, consumers associate them with
their country of origin, Netherlands, thereby stimulating the relative
overall image pertaining to the country of origin, as well as its image
as s the source of the particular product line (Shukla, 2008). The
associated country or country of origin, as is the case for country in
which the products are made, affects the product line’s brand image
and regulates the effect that brand image alone has.
The image that a product’s model or make has completes the processing
of information pertaining to the country and the brand. In instances
where consumers know the country in which the product is manufactured,
the country’s image as a producer of that particular product line has
an impact on the image of the product via the branded product line’s
image prior to the exposure of the attributes of the product (Sanyal&
Datta, 2011). In instances where consumers know the made-in country
after the evaluation of the attributes of the product the country’s
image as the product line’s producer would still affect the image of
the product (Gu et al, 2008). In such instances, the country in which
the product is made would act as the product’s feature or attribute.
However, it is worth noting that the image of a country may change with
time. Indeed, there may be a dynamic change in the image of a country
after the consumers have gained experience with products that are
manufactured in certain countries (Lee & Chen, 2008). Scholars have also
noted that there may exist a two-way influence between the brand image
of a product, the image of the country in which the country is made, and
the brand’s perceived country of origin (Sanyal& Datta, 2011). In this
case, a well recognized global branded product may improve or enhance
the country in which it is manufactured in instances where the country
has a weak image, but the brand image will be damaged. Considering the
experiences through which consumers have gone with purchased products,
they assess the relative utility or satisfaction that they derive from
the purchases (Chitturi et al, 2008). While customers undertake their
own assessment, they are not restricted to their own purchases. Indeed,
mass media communications and word-of-mouth expose the individual
customers to other customers’ experiences as well (Melnyk et al,
2012). In essence, the assessment may be considered a learning process
that allows for the integration of information pertaining to the
experiences of a customer with particular products from different
Needless to say, volumes of research have shown that the country with
which a particular brand is associated would result in bias on the side
of the customers. This bias has its basis on the image that the
customers have formed in their minds pertaining to that country
(Podoshen & Andrzejewski, 2012). Of course, this introduces questions as
to what the image of a country would be made of. What would make French
wine to be considered the best, or watches from Switzerland to be seen
as impressive or Germany to be seen as a force to reckon with as far as
engineering is concerned (Sanyal& Datta, 2011). Consumers would
subconsciously consider varied factors in this case.
The level of Economy comes as one of the fundamental factors that shape
the perceptions of customers to the country. Indeed, scholars have
stated that the level of economic growth comes as the primary proxy for
other activities in the country. A large number of countries that have
positive COO are developed countries that are highly industrialised, a
category that Turkey is yet to attain (Sanyal& Datta, 2011). On the same
note, there are considerations about the wealth index of the country or
rather the actual/perceived overall wealth in the country, which is
measured via consumption levels, number of billionaires and
millionaires, how big the industry of luxury goods is and the
sophistication that comes with the leisure industry (Chitturi et al,
2008). Customers would look at the wealth index and get a cue on the
level of quality with which products come, the variety, as well as the
perceived credibility pertaining to the brands or products.
Considerations pertaining to technology in general and technological
innovations in particular are not surprising especially considering the
extent to which they have been incorporated in the lives of present-day
consumers (Baldaufet al, 2009). They shape the perception of consumers
on the country as they usually have a close relationship with the level
of economic development of that particular country. It goes without
saying that a country that has a high COO effect would be likely to have
a high level of technological capability (Melnyk et al, 2012).
Type of Government
Capitalism and its resultant market economy has been successful in a
large part of the world, which has resulted in the generation of
negative perceptions for countries that fail to follow capitalism
(Sanyal& Datta, 2011). On the same note, most countries across the globe
have adopted democracy as their defacto form of governance, in which
case other forms of government including communist regimes,
dictatorships and monarchies often trigger a negative perception
(Baldaufet al, 2009). An associated feature would be the government’s
reputation, as well as its corporate governance, which revolves around
the efficiency, accountability and transparency that the country’s
government exhibits.
Business history
In most cases businesses will undergo a paradigm shift from the things
fo which they are known. However, as much as countries may undergo
evolution to specialise in high-value industries, they would face
immense difficulties in shrugging off any inappropriate or negative
associations pertaining to their past (Pappu et al, 2006). In essence,
the country’s business history would contribute immensely to shaping
the country’s image.
There, generally, exists, a consensus as to the fact that the country of
origin would affect the image of a brand or product line. However,
questions emerge as to what happens to the country of origin effect in
instances where the brand changes ownership and is affiliated with
another country. Indeed, such a thing has happened in the business world
for companies such as Land Rover, which was acquired by Tata in 2008,
IBM’s PC business bought by China’s Lenovo in 2005, or even the
Australian icon Vegemite, which was acquired by Kraft in 1935
(Giovannini, 2012). Scholars have underlined the fact that these
acquisitions send clear indications as to the fact that the cultural
links between the countries producing the products and the brands are at
risk (Giovannini, 2012). Indeed, the heritage pertaining to a large
number of brands would change immensely in cases where there is a change
of ownership across national and international borders.
Of course, the fundamental question revolves around the effects that the
modification or alteration of heritage would have on the brand. Scholars
have underlined the fact that the country of origin effect on a brand or
product line would be strongest during its inception and its initial
stages (Pappu et al, 2006). Once the country of origin’s image has
been entrenched in the personality of the brand, fashioned its identity
and shaped the perceptions of the consumer, it seems to have a permanent
effect on the image of the brand. Indeed, scholars note that marketers
can leverage the country’s power in building the brand most
effectively at the initial stages of establishing the brand (Baldaufet
al, 2009). Upon the maturity of the brand, it would gain other materials
that make a significant contribution to its identity including its
financial record, reputation and management personalities, elements that
would go a long way in enhancing the change of the image of the brand in
its later stages. In essence, the country of origin doubles up as a
powerful brand ingredient that may be used in enhancing the competitive
advantage of the product in international marketing (Chaudhuri et al,
2011). In essence, it is imperative that decisions pertaining to whether
a particular product or brand is to be associated with its country of
origin must undergo careful consideration to avert the possibility of
negative effects on the brand image (Pappu et al, 2006). Positive
associations would have the capacity to shape the consumers’
perception of the brand and would come in handy in efforts to establish
international brands that have perfect resonance with global consumers
(Pappu et al, 2006). In essence, it is imperative that brand marketers
that aim at taking their products and brands to the global market
undertake a careful consideration of the rewards and risks that pertain
to the leveraging of the country of origin effect (Kinra, 2006). In
instances where such associations come with positive reinforcement of
the value position of a brand, it would have a significant improvement
on the capacity of the marketer to enhance the brand in the
international or global market (Kinra, 2006).
In the 80s and 90s, related research was mainly focused on the impact of
the perception of the location of origin in relation to other attributes
of the product, like price. According to Bilkey and Nes, (Bilkey & Nes,
1982 Bulent, 1997) the effects of origin on brand image were less when
compared with other attributes such as price and product, and that the
effects dropped substantially when more variables were considered
alongside the country of origin information. In another study, it was
noted that the impact of origin was more closely related to the brand
quality perception than the purchase intention. Effects of origin on
brand image were used as an attribute associated to reliable brand
quality (Tokatli & Kizilgün, 2004). Nebenzahl et al (1997) reported
that origin had a remarkable effect on product evaluation by consumers
across the globe. In another study, it was apparent that country of
origin was considered less significant as compared to price and brand
quality by the respondents (Pappu et al. 2005).
Khan & Bamber (2008) carried out a study in Turkey on product
evaluations on a sample size of 225 students. The study reported that
the origin failed to influence the decision making process of the
respondents. A study investigated consumers’ ability to determine a
product’s country of origin and the factors that influence their
identifications throughout the identification process during brand
assessments. The results reflected the limited ability of the buyers to
categorize brands according to their origin using key categorization of
distinct brands to their origin (Baldaufet al, 2009). The most notable
finding was that the country of origin did not have a prominent effect
on the evaluation of the brands of the product groups involved in the
Evidently, extensive research has supported the significance of the
effects of origin on positive and negative perceptions on foreign goods,
making the country in which a brand’s product originates a critical
aspect of global marketing (Kotler & Gertner, 2002). Nonetheless,
country of origin image is no longer considered as an important issue in
global marketing because of the decline of origin labelling by the World
Trade Organization and the developments leading to the evolution and
expansion of the international market place.
Other studies have investigated numerous potential determinants of the
effects of origin. Motivation was highlighted as one of the factors. It
was reported that effects of origin occur when buyers are lowly
motivated to purchase a particular item (Mehmet et al. 2010). In
addition, the role of cultural dimensions in the effects of origin has
been investigated. Also, collectivism and individualism have been used
to explicate why buyers prefer products from their home country even
after being assured that the imported products are superior.
In addition to research on COO and brand image, much research has been
conducted to determine the factors that contribute to the success of the
textile and automotive manufacturing industries in Turkey. Benzing, Chu,
& Kara determined that the success of the textile industry was
positively affected by Turkey’s domestic cotton market, and its close
involvement in silk trade as well as many other factors (Benzing 2009).
Research has also been carried out to determine what factors are
beneficial for foreign companies to take their business to Turkey, as
well as what the future looks like for the Turkish manufacturing
industry. Tokatli and Kizilgun have researched the potential threats and
benefits of the Chinese and East Asian manufacturing markets, including
what aspects of Chinese manufacturing draw business away from Turkey in
search of a higher profit margin, as well as how this withdrawal of
foreign brands could make room for the growth and expansion of domestic
brands that are focusing their efforts on the emerging markets of
Central Asia and Eastern Europe (Tokatli & Kizilgun, 2009).
Little research has been conducted on consumer purchase behaviour and
global opinion regarding made-in-Turkey products, and this research will
aim to close this gap in information that would prove beneficial for
Turkish and foreign companies alike.
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