Made in China or Swiss Made?

Jan 31, 2010, 21:46 ET from Queensland University of Technology

BRISBANE, Australia, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Advertising that a toy is made in China can be as successful as saying a watch is "Swiss Made", if the marketing is done right, a Queensland University of Technology researcher says.

Professor Brett Martin found that promoting a product's country of manufacture could help it to sell, even if it was made in a country associated with lower quality.

"It is standard advertising practice to market a product's country of origin if the country is perceived as a high quality producer and not mention the country if it is not," Professor Martin said.

"However, my research has found consumers can easily be persuaded to think positively about a 'low quality' country."

Professor Martin said the trick was to get consumers to imagine positive thoughts when reading product information.

"This is because getting people to use their imagination weakens the stereotypes people use about goods from different countries," he said.

His study tested 516 young adults after they viewed product information for digital cameras made in Germany, which is seen as a manufacturer of high quality products, and Poland, which is regarded as a maker of lower quality products.

Measuring their purchase intentions and emotions, the study found that sparking the consumers' imaginations about Poland created a lasting positive response towards the Polish-made camera which equalled the positive response felt towards the German-made camera.

"These findings form an interesting consideration for marketers," he said.

"Having a strong country of manufacture can be effective for advertising, but if you get people to imagine how good a supposedly weaker country is, the advantage for the high quality country drops substantially.

"This is because many people form a quick impression when they find out where a product is from, like a t-shirt from Hawaii.

"Getting them to imagine the islands' great beaches and surf culture interrupts that thinking and lets a product sell on its merits, rather than being dismissed without consideration."

Professor Martin said his research which is forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Behaviour meant companies which manufactured their products in countries associated with lower quality should rethink their marketing strategies and not just compete on price.

He said that a strong country of manufacture was not necessarily the great advantage that many advertisers think and cautioned against resting on the laurels of a country's good reputation.

Researcher contact: Brett Martin

Brett.martin@qut.edu.au

SOURCE Queensland University of Technology