Picture me your country-of-origin!
CHICAGO, Aug. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One crucial perspective with regards to country-of-origin has not been looked at: People hold emotional country-specific associations which they may unconsciously link to a brand.
When asked directly, most consumers state that they do not know and do not care where a brand actually comes from. This is why many scholars have argued that in times of a melting global economy, the country-of-origin, thus, the country from which a brand comes from, has become more and more irrelevant for consumers. However, when we look at the way people think, we find that people keep their memories not only in words, but also strongly in images. Especially personal memories or emotions are often memorized as images. This is why just asking people with words is not enough. As the first of its kind, this study by Herz and Diamantopoulos explicitly acknowledges the difference in which consumers memorize, think and communicate. Drawing from Allan Paivio's dual-coding-theory, the authors explore the existence of two distinct types of country-specific associations (rational and emotional) and the differences in consumers' communication of these associations. Instead of just talking, respondents create collages. They build their brand image using pictures words and thereby communicate memory content and country-specific associations which would not be accessible with traditional methods.
The study findings show that "people are more likely to reveal emotional [country-specific associations], including personal experiences and affect toward a country, through nonverbal-based tasks and responses" and, thus, that the importance of a brand's origin "is not necessarily overestimated but rather misestimated." (Herz and Diamantopoulos 2013, p. 110)
The article by Herz and Diamantopoulos brings a fresh breeze in the dusty field of country-of-origin research. By including images into country-of-origin research, the authors explore the emotional and unconscious side of consumers' country-specific associations and thereby guide a new generation of country-of-origin research.
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