The Effects of Country of Origin on Marketing

How Brands from Certain Countries Score over the Others

Have you ever heard of the COO effect? No? It can make a huge impact on your marketing.

Country of Origin Effect, or COO, is when consumers and marketers associate brands with certain countries and base their buying decisions on it.

For example, thanks to our own preconceptions, we believe that Chinese products are cheap and of a real low quality. We also think that Swiss ones are precise, German sturdy, and Japanese high-quality. That means that we buy and replace things that originate from these places based on how we perceive the values associated with the particular country of origin.

Simply put, the COO effect is the measure of just how much the production location of a product can influence the consumers’ decisions.

According to recent research, the effects of country of origin on marketing is significant in relation to consumers. That fact has caused renewed attempts to dissociate and associate products with the countries they’re manufactured in. Reasons for the association are obvious. Associating your products with a country that has a positive reputation can increase sales. However, dissociating to avoid negative COO effect can be even more relevant. So before you market any product from any country, you need to research the market in your target countries thoroughly to see how the country of origin is being perceived.


Country of Origin and Marketing

It has been proven that the country of origin has a very significant effect on consumers’ decisions. Taglines of certain products utilise that fact to emphasise the perceived benefits of certain countries. For instance, the tagline certain watch brands use stresses that their products are from Switzerland. That significantly impacts consumer’s purchasing decisions. Furthermore, COO can lead to better brand recall. For instance, we all know McDonald’s is an American company, and we have a tendency to link the brand with the US. We also tend to associate Versace with Italy, Burberry with the UK, and BMW with Germany.

The point is that when it comes to COO, the success of the brand depends significantly in part on the country people associate it with. Also, it depends on the reputation that country has in the country where the product is marketed as well. That’s why marketers need to be cautious when it comes to branding based on COO. You see, stepping away from traditional clichés regarding the country of origin can harm marketing efforts and the product’s success. Furthermore, when associating a brand with its country of origin, you should always consider all geopolitical conditions. Once you associate a certain brand with its country of origin, you won’t be able to dissociate it so easily.


Real World Stories

Sometimes country of origin branding leads to incredible successes, and sometimes, it leads to dreadful failures. Marketing history is full of examples of both.


For example, in the 1980s, when Japanese vehicles first appeared on the global market, they instantly became known for fuel efficiency and high-quality workmanship. People thought German cars were durable, powerful, and made with utmost precision. Thanks to their history, we will always think that French perfumes have an amazing scent and a stylish effect.


When British companies tried to gain more traction in the car market, country of origin affected the consumers in a negative way. Jaguar and Rolls Royce were famous as vehicles of choice for the rich and the famous. However, these companies ran into difficulties while trying to enter the mass market. The main reason was that, although people associated them with the higher class, people also saw them as old-fashioned and outdated.


In the End

The COO effect is something any marketer can use for the brand’s benefit. However, this fruit can turn sour. If a country’s position in the world suddenly changes or one large company starts delivering substandard and defective products, all companies that originate in that country can experience product placement difficulties. Consumers quickly catch on to the bad news and tend to stick with opinions formed that way for a long time.

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