Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Consumers' Use of Country-of-Manufacture Information: Turkey versus the U.S.A

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Consumers' Use of Country-of-Manufacture Information: Turkey versus the U.S.A

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The country of origin effect has been defined by Bilkey and Nes (1982) as the influence that a product's perceived country of origin exerts on consumers' evaluations of products. The country-of-origin effect has been empirically tested and documented in many marketing studies (e.g., see Peterson and Jolibert, 1995; Pharr, 2005, or Koschate-Fischer, Diamantopoulos, and Oldenkotte, 2012 for reviews of country-of-origin research). Researchers found that the country-of-origin effect can be a result of a number of factors. For instance, they found that the country where the product was manufactured, along with the country where it was designed, or where the components of the product were manufactured, as well as the country of assembly might have an influence on consumers' perceptions of the product and on purchasing decisions (Balabanis & Diamantopulos, 2008; Chao, 2001; Han & Terpstra, 1988; Johansson & Nebenzahl, 1986; Hamzaoui-Essoussi & Merunka, 2007).

In this study, we decided to focus on the country-of-manufacture (COM) effect as opposed to a broader country-of-origin effect for a number of reasons. Firstly, of all dimensions of the country-of-origin phenomenon, the "made in" aspect draws the most attention of the general public and across the broad political spectrum in conjunction with the debate about the effects of free trade on the state of the economies and on the wellbeing of the citizens. Secondly, since most countries mandate that the country of provenance is indicated on the product label, the "made in" information represents one of the most objective, easily accessible information cues that a consumer can verify for herself simply by examining the product tags or packaging. If consumers utilize the country-of-origin information in their purchase decisions at all, the country-of-manufacture cue is very likely to be utilized. In light of the conflicting information about the importance of the country-of-manufacture information for consumers in the globalized world, we strive to advance our understanding of the phenomenon by examining several aspects of the COM effect across two economically and culturally different countries, the USA and Turkey.

LITERATURE REVIEW AND HYPOTHESES

Degree of Reliance on Country-of-Manufacture Information

This paper uses the cue utilization theory (Olson & Jacoby, 1972) as the underlining theoretical base for exploring the COM effects in the two countries of interest. Olson & Jacoby (1972) separate the product-related information cues into two categories: intrinsic (e.g., product shape, performance, texture, etc.) and extrinsic (e.g., price, brand name, warranties). Since the product quality rarely can be reliably assessed prior to purchase, prudent consumers have to rely on intrinsic and extrinsic cues as indicators of product quality and to minimize risk of purchase. Country-of-origin information is an extrinsic cue (Bilkey & Ness, 1982; Han & Terpstra, 1988; Hong & Wyer, 1989) that is used by the consumers for the pre-purchase evaluation. The likelihood of utilizing extrinsic cues such as the country-of-manufacture information increases when intrinsic cues are not available to assist in quality diagnostics (Olson & Jacoby, 1972).

Meta-analytical studies (e.g., Peterson & Jolibert, 1995; Verlegh & Steenkamp, 1999) seem to leave little doubt about the pervasiveness of the country-of-origin effect (including its underlying dimensions such as the country-of-manufacture). However, results of recent opinion polls and academic literature suggest that further investigation is needed to clarify the scope and the boundary conditions of the effect.

On the one hand, consumers state that they are interested in and increasingly pay attention to the country-of-manufacture information. For instance, in 2007, Gallup Poll reported that 72% of Americans claimed that they were paying more attention to which country produces the products they buy (Vence, 2007). …

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