How Brand Image, Country of Origin, and Self-Congruity Influence Internet Users' Purchase Intention

Article excerpt

E-commerce has become more pervasive because of advanced Internet technologies. Consumers can now get product information via the Internet rapidly, and can purchase goods online using shopping channels (Lan & Lie, 2010). An online survey conducted by Eastern Online (2012) revealed that 64% of network users in Taiwan engage in online shopping at least once a month. Luxury goods are products that are simultaneously equipped with quality, brand name, and taste that provide consumers with multiple psychological and physical values (Vigneron & Johnson, 1999). These product lines are seen to possess exactly what modern network users pursue in terms of individuality and materialism (Chen, 2006). In a survey conducted by Cheng, Li, Yu, and Gou (2011), these researchers found that, in the Taiwan consumer market in recent years a strong interest has developed in brand purchasing. Not only have middle-class consumers begun purchasing branded goods, young people have also emerged as a major consumer group

Han and Terpstra (1988) suggested that consumer perceptions of hybrid products--that is, products carrying the brand name of one country, but manufactured in another--change according to the country of origin (COO) and Nebenzahl, Jaffe, and Lampert (1997) suggested that it was not only for hybrid products that this change in perception occurred. Motivations of young consumer groups for purchasing branded goods no longer depend solely on their external qualities, but also on their internal motivations. Possessing goods with certain brand names has allowed young people to express their perception of an ideal, successful self-image (Chen, 2006). Thus, consistency between brand personality --that is the set of human characteristics associated with a brand (Aaker, 1997) --and self-congruity offers information regarding consumer purchase intention. However, in studies by Ahmed and d'Astous (1996), Lin and Chen (2006), Phau and Cheong (2009), and Lin, Yu, Chen, and Koh (2012) on the effect of the COO and brand relationship, those researchers did not consider Internet development as a factor. We posed the question of whether the COO has a strong or a weak influence on the purchase intention of Internet users in pursuit of self-congruity.

Literature Review

Marked differences in purchasing frequency and quantity have been observed among Internet consumers with various characteristics and lifestyles (Lin, 2002). American sociologist, Tapscott (1998) defined people born between 1977 and 1997 as the network generation because this generation habitually collects information and compares prices online.

Internet users as a group are consumers who exercise their consumer rights more frequently as they mature and earn income. The online audience is a booming market worldwide (Brengman, Geuens, Weijters, Smith, & Swinyard, 2005). Internet users are prone to terminate a transaction and prefer high-end products; yet, they have a strong sense of the world as a global village and a greater adaptive capacity than do nonnetwork users, which allows them to create an outspoken individuality. When business owners fully understand the needs and wants of Internet users and attempt to satisfy their requirements, those businesses can use the purchasing power of this consumer group to create more profitable opportunities (Napoli & Ewing, 2001).

In a study conducted by Lin and colleagues (2012), the researchers found that in September 2008 when it was found that milk contaminated with melamine was being distributed in China, this induced consumers to reevaluate the importance of the country of brand (COB) and the country of manufacture (COM). Piron, (2000) found that consumer purchase intention of luxury brands and conspicuous goods was affected by the COO. Garbarino and Edell (1997) found that the perception of the product quality was positively affected by the consistency between the COB and the COM and where this consistency was present it further increased product appeal. …