This paper was meant to argue a position against the notion that both the country of origin and the origin of the brand affect the customer purchasing decision. After intense research on a number of relevant researches on business and other academic literature, the author justified that the origin of the product is not of importance when it comes to customer choices (Samiee, 2011).
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The paper points out the difficulty in attributing a particular product to a particular country of origin due to the nature of the production and sourcing process of the product. A product might pass through various areas before it can be called a final product. The author acknowledges that the country of origin of certain products is well known by the buyers. For example, Louis Vuitton is obviously of French origin and any product from the Apple brand is known to have originated from America. However, Nike is believed to be of American origin while that is not the case. It actually lacks the facilities to produce it and imports all of Nike’s products from overseas.
What is of importance is whether the customer’s purchasing behavior is influenced or altered by the knowledge on the product’s country of origin. Research suggests that only a very small percentage (6.5) actually knew the country of origin of the product they had already purchased. Of that percentage, a mere 2.2 % of all the customers studied considered the product’s country of origin before purchasing the product. Even after the sample of consumers had been enlightened about the country of origin of the products they were purchasing, most of them (75 percent) either did not care about the products country of origin or did not even think of it while making their choices.
The author argued that various studies show that customers are rarely interested in the origin of a brand or country of origin of the products. He argues that customers might even not know the correct origin of what they purchase. He further argues that identifying a product in the market by country of origin may be difficult. He gives an example of EU that is attempting to draw away from country-based labeling on products in order to favor EU as their origin. This indicates that customers would not be able to identify the country of origin but would still purchase the products.
The author also argues against the use of certain colors on products to suggest that they are products from certain countries. Certain products use colors of the flags of recognizable countries in an attempt to create a perception in their customers. However, he criticizes these efforts saying that most customers do not even realize that the colors were selected specifically from a certain flag. By saying this, he tries to justify that the customers would buy a certain product but not because of the colors used on it.
The research by Magnusson et al. (2011) gave out a different thought about the effects of the knowledge on a product’s country of origin on the consumer buying behavior. The authors of this paper believed and argued out that the country of origin mattered a lot to the consumers during the buying process. The consumer’s knowledge on the origin of the brand or the perceived origin influenced the customer’s attitude towards the brand. This argument is contrary to the approach taken by Samiee (2011) that the country of origin did not matter to the customer. Samiee argues this position saying that the customers’ perceived brand origin could be wrong and the customer might purchase that product only because he or she thought it came from a particular country while in real sense, it did not.
Magnusson and his colleagues argue that various research indicate that many big companies have managed and have continued to maintain their customer base by instilling a certain perception on the country of origin during their promotions (Magnusson, Westjohn, & Zdravkovic, 2011). A good example is Volkswagen who uses narrators who have the German accent to advertise their products. This gives a perception that the cars are designed in Germany. A certain retailer of furniture instilled a country of origin perception in their customers by painting their stores in colors that signified the Swedish flag. The products were also named using Swedish names. Through the use this strategy by the companies, they were able to make their customers purchase their products due to the perceived country of origin. These observations prove that the purchasing decisions of the customers were greatly affected by these perceptions.
In my opinion, I would side with the argument brought about by Magnusson and his colleagues. I believe that a customer’s choice is greatly influenced by the product or brand’s country of origin. Most people want to be associated with brands and products from certain countries due to a certain perception towards the brand itself or the country. For example, if China were known to produce the best electronic appliances, people would want to go for China-made electronic appliances. The product would not need to be of very high quality for the customer to pick it. Only the country of origin would do for the customer.
- Magnusson, P., Westjohn, S., & Zdravkovic, S. (2011). What? I thought Samsung was Japanese: Accurate or not, perceived country of origin matters. International Marketing Review, 28(5), 454-472.
- Samiee, S. (2011). Resolving the impasse regarding research on the origins. International Marketing Review, 28(5), 473-485.