Academic journal article Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration

An International Comparative Analysis of Consumer Attitudes toward Canada and Canadian Products

Academic journal article Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration

An International Comparative Analysis of Consumer Attitudes toward Canada and Canadian Products

Article excerpt

The increasing intensity of international competition and the globalization of markets have important implications for nations where foreign trade and investments play a major role in the domestic economy. As a result, the international competitiveness of domestic industry has become a matter of growing interest among decision makers and researchers in many countries, including Canada. An important and necessary input for developing globally competitive strategies is information about consumers' attitudes toward the offerings of competing producers. Past research has shown conclusively that product evaluations are influenced by the images that consumers hold about the products' origins. While the views of Canadian consumers about products of various origins have been researched, to date there have been virtually no studies on the attitudes of foreign consumers toward Canadian product

The overall objective of this study is to report on the perceptions of Canada, Canadians, and Canadian products, both at home and abroad, based on a cross-national investigation of product and country images held by consumers. More specifically, the study identifies underlying dimensions along which Canadian products are evaluated by consumers; compares the image of Canadian products to the images of products from some of Canada's major foreign competitor nations; and examines the views consumers hold, not only about products from Canada and other origins, but also about the respective countries and their people. Although the primary emphasis is on the views of foreign consumers, these are also compared with Canadian attitudes toward domestic and imported goods and toward Canada and other countries.

The study can be useful in two main ways. First, it can assist in advancing the theory on the role of country images in product evaluations, by (a) identifying key dimensions of country-related product images and (b) reporting, for the first time in this field of research, explicit measures of the images of producing countries and their people (rather than only of the countries' products). Second, it can provide significant insights for the development of strategies that can enhance the ability of Canadian firms to compete against foreign producers, both at home and abroad.

Literature Review and Scope of the Study

The Role of Country Images in Country Evaluations

Product-country images (PCIs) can be thought of as basic decision rules or rudimentary theories of the "if A, then B" type, held by consumers and influencing product assessments ("if it's German, it must be well-engineered"). It might be supposed that the use of such rules-of-thumb would decrease over time, since consumers today are better educated, have access to more information, and are exposed to a plethora of products made in whole or in part in a large variety of countries. However, there is evidence that in contemporary markets PCIs are becoming more, rather than less, important (Han, 1989; Tse & Gorn, 1992).

One explanation for this trend may be the increasing use of country identifiers in government campaigns aiming to protect domestic products (e.g., "Canada--Buy Into It") and by companies wanting to differentiate themselves from imitative competitors (e.g., Lloyd's of London). Such campaigns serve to heighten awareness about differences among product origins. This awareness is reinforced further by the increased exposure of consumers to foreign countries through travel, the media, and the growing diversity of imported products that are available in the market. An additional explanation is that consumers use PCIs to make inferences about the quality of various offerings. In light of the complexity of today's products and markets, consumers may use PCIs as surrogates for quality, just as they use price and brand names (Jacoby, Szybillo, & Busato-Schach, 1977).

The findings of more than 100 studies on the role of country images have been reported in the literature. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.