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“What? I thought Samsung was Japanese”: accurate or not, perceived country of origin matters

Peter Magnusson (Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA)
Stanford A. Westjohn (The University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA)
Srdan Zdravkovic (Bryant University, Smithfield, Rhode Island, USA)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 13 September 2011




Extensive research has shown that country‐of‐origin (COO) information significantly affects product evaluations and buying behavior. Yet recently, a competing perspective has emerged suggesting that COO effects have been inflated in prior research and even that the COO concept has become irrelevant. The purpose of this paper is to reconcile these two competing perspectives by examining the effects of individual brand origin perceptions.


The conceptual framework is grounded in consumers’ learning. Empirically, the authors’ hypotheses are tested using hierarchical linear modeling on a sample of 4,047 brand evaluations by 544 consumers.


The results provide strong evidence that product country image of the consumer's perceived brand origin strongly affects brand attitudes, and this happens regardless of the perceptions’ objective accuracy. The authors also find evidence that educating consumers about brands’ true COO can contribute to changes in brand attitudes.

Practical implications

It is concluded that suggestions that COO has become an irrelevant construct in international marketing may be premature. The study offers meaningful insights for managers in understanding how brands’ country associations affect brand attitudes.


This study aims to reconcile tensions in the current COO literature and does so by demonstrating that although consumer knowledge of brand origin is often mis‐calibrated, consumers’ perceptions of brand origin still matter.



Magnusson, P., Westjohn, S.A. and Zdravkovic, S. (2011), "“What? I thought Samsung was Japanese”: accurate or not, perceived country of origin matters", International Marketing Review, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 454-472.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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