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It all began with a kiss, or when packaging sells a country

Maria Kniazeva (Associate Professor of Marketing in the School of Business Administration, University of San Diego, California, USA)

International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research

ISSN: 1750-6182

Article publication date: 11 October 2011




This paper aims to: better understand the country of origin (COO) construct by adopting a lens of marketplace mythology; and develop a conceptual framework delineating the process of mythologizing a country through the use of packaging.


Analysis of narratives on food product packages that claim a connection to Italy lets this qualitative study join two streams of research – on COO effect and marketplace mythology.


The work proposes four mythological properties of the country of origin construct, discusses their major dimensions, establishes their relationship, and develops a conceptual framework delineating the mythological nature of the country of origin construct.

Research limitations/implications

Several directions for future research may enhance this study. For example, the interpretation of the narratives by the consumers of food products claiming an Italian connection will allow exploring how the mythic structures employed by marketers are read by the intended readers.

Practical implications

The importance of COO effects on consumer decision making is expected to become even stronger with current globalization trends that increasingly move products across countries and force marketers to engage in a battle to differentiate their brands – in many cases by capitalizing on the origin of products.


By exploring food package stories, the paper focuses on the carrier of mythic meaning that is under‐researched in both COO and marketplace mythology studies. The present study adds to the understanding of how geography ceases being a mere informational “Made in” statement and is transformed into a powerful cultural marker, full of symbolically framed meaning.



Kniazeva, M. (2011), "It all began with a kiss, or when packaging sells a country", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 383-395.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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