The effect of country of origin and other characteristics on product evaluation



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Country of origin is an extrinsic product attribute that indicates the country in which a product is made. Although country of origin does not determine physical or performance characteristics, it does influence consumers1 belief and attitude structures about products. Presumed effects on consumer decision processes, coupled with cost and market implications of cross-border production siting, make country of origin an important marketing mix variable. A hierarchy of effects model for integration of the country of origin cue which derives from Olson's Model of Cue Utilization Process (1977) is proposed. Portions of the model are tested in a forced information acquisition environment. Most country of origin research has consisted of attitude profiles and surveys. This dissertation research introduced dollarmetric valuations and choice intention as dependent measures of country of origin differences in consumer experimentation. Country interaction effects with other extrinsic cues, product risks, and consumer characteristics were also investigated. The research was comprised of three experiments, and multiple treatment exemplars and operationalizations were employed in experiments to enhance generalizability of results. Results of hypothesis tests were mixed. Statistical support was obtained for country of origin main effect differences between industrialized and less developed countries, country interaction with product financial risk, and country moderation by consumer expertise. In four country by brand realizations, the direction of observed effects suggested that valuation derogation attributable to less developed countries is partially mitigated when the product carries a well-respected brand name, but only one test was statistically significant. Conversely, the country by retailer effect was opposite the hypothesized direction, suggesting that evaluation derogation of less developed countries may be greater on products when sold by well- respected retailers rather than by discount stores. Finally, the hypothesized country by perceived performance risk interaction produced mixed results. In summary, consumer expectations about and preferences for products were found to differ by country class. These consumer dispositions appear to depend on personal, situational, and other product characteristics. Strategic implications of the findings are discussed.



Consumers--United States