Brand Origin: How Does it Impact Brand Awareness and Brand Image
As globalization influences today’s world markets, many brands are becoming international and global. When a brand is in an international market it creates an opportunity for perceived brand origin to influence the consumers. Brand origin effect refers to the different ways that the perceived origin of a brand influences the consumers, for example, the consumer brand equity or purchase behaviour. The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate brand origins effect on brand image and brand awareness. There has been research on this in the past; however, only few of them have focused on emerging markets. Therefore, we will investigate the brand origin effect in emerging markets.
The study is performed in Ecuador, and the data is collected through structured interviews within the target population. The dissertation was done in collaboration with the Swedish company Husqvarna. Therefore, it was the brand awareness and image of Husqvarna in particular that was studied.
The results of this dissertation indicate that there are relationships between the variables brand origin, brand image and brand awareness. First of all, there were indications that consumers in emerging markets prefer brands from developed countries. The second relationship that the results indicate is that a more positive image of perceived brand origin means a more positive image of brand image. The last relationship is that a more positive image of perceived brand origin, leads to a higher sense of brand awareness. However, it is necessary to mention that none of these relationships could be proven to be significant through statistical testing. As a result of this, this dissertation provides a good foundation for future research where the relationships should be further studied.
Emerging markets are a key factor in the growth of the world economy and offer remarkable growth opportunities for firms from developed countries. The increasingly mature economies of emerging markets will demand more consumer goods from firms in the developed countries and offer enormous potential for marketing success, this due to the growth and size of the markets (Nakata & Sivakumar, 1997).
Country of origin (COO) can be defined as the country of manufacture or assembly (AlSulaiti & Baker, 1998). It is a concept that has been investigated thoroughly for years, and has been acknowledged as an important aspect of consumer behaviour studies (Yasin et al., 2007). However, as a result of many products not being assembled, designed, or made in the original country anymore, due to for example globalization, another concept has emerged. This concept is brand origin (BO), and can be defined as the place, region or country where the target customers perceive the brand to belong to (Thakor & Kohli, 1996). Therefore, the BO concept works as a simplification of the COO concept since it focuses on the perceived location instead of the actual one (Jin et al., 2004). While COO has been researched for a long time, there has not been as much research done on BO (Thakor & Lavack, 2003), and even less on BO in emerging markets. This presents a problem since recent studies have shown that BO is a more relevant concept in emerging markets than COO (Jin et al., 2004). BO is considered to be a better measurement because it has been found to have a greater impact on consumer purchasing than COO in emerging markets. The reason for this is that consumers in emerging markets perceive foreign brands, from developed countries, to have an image
of status and modernity. Also, BO is more connected to brand image and, therefore, a more relevant concept to use in an emerging market than COO (Zhuang et al., 2008).
Jin et al. (2004) state that because of the lack of research on BO in emerging markets it is a subject which needs to be further studied. In other words there are gaps in the knowledge of the topic. Batra et al. (2000) suggest that one gap is that past research has mainly focused on the point of view of consumers in developed countries. However, due to differences in social motivation and identity between developed and developing countries, it is important to identify the consumers in emerging markets points of view as well.
Another gap in the BO research is the influence that BO has on different factors of brand equity. Jin et al. (2004) suggest that not only does the topic of brand origin itself need to be developed, but also how it influences factors such as brand image. Therefore, we will include brand image as one of our two variables in this research. Yoo et al., (2000) state that a specific brand image is formed by brand awareness with strong associations. Therefore, it can be said that the image a consumer has of a brand is influenced by the awareness that they have. Because of the relationship between the two, it is relevant to investigate BO’s effect on both instead of just one of them.