City Research Online

The influence of a country's brands and industry on its image

Lopez, C. and Balabanis, G. (2021). The influence of a country's brands and industry on its image. European Journal of Marketing, 55(1), pp. 27-62. doi: 10.1108/EJM-06-2018-0414

Abstract

Purpose
Extant research has largely treated country image (CI) as an exogenous variable, focusing mostly on its consequences for consumers’ evaluations and purchases of products or brands originating from a country. Scant research has examined the instrumental role of a country’s brands and products in the evaluations of CI. This study aims to investigate how the brands of a country contribute to CI ratings and the conditions underlying their effect on CI.

Design/methodology/approach
Three experimental studies test the hypotheses, one pertaining to the effect of brands on CI (N = 227), the second to the effect of products on CI (N = 116) and the third to the effect of brands and products on industry image (N = 215). The experimental approach overcomes the limitations of cross-sectional surveys commonly used in CI studies to detect the direction of the observed effects. Furthermore, respondents (British consumers) were allowed to determine the brands and products associated with a country.

Findings
Drawing on memory schema theory, across three studies, the authors identify two types of reverse inferences: from brand to CI and from product category to CI. The reverse inference from a brand to a superordinate image is stronger for industry image than for CI.

Research limitations/implications
This research focuses on consumers’ evaluations from only one country (the UK). Further research could replicate the studies across different countries and with different countries of origin (COOs). Researchers could also examine the influence of brands misidentified with the wrong COO and mistakenly stored as such in consumers’ memories.

Practical implications
The results are relevant for managers and consultants working with country- (place-) branding campaigns. Brands and industries can help strengthen the evaluations of the economic dimension of different countries; however, these assets are underdeveloped in country-branding campaigns. Linking countries with brands and industries in campaigns could result in positive associations, which, in turn, could enhance the reputational rating of the countries.

Originality/value
This research extends previous studies on the effects of a country’s products and brands on CI by incorporating the mediating role of industry image between brands/products and CI, separating the effects of brand and product category on CI, allowing consumers to determine, which brands and products are associated with a country and adopting an experimental methodology to ascertain the causal direction of the effects.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact permissions@emerald.com.
Publisher Keywords: country image, brand, industry image, memory schema
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Departments: Business School > Management
Date available in CRO: 07 Jun 2021 08:16
Date deposited: 7 June 2021
Date of acceptance: 25 June 2020
Date of first online publication: 4 January 2021
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/26234
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