This paper aims to test the general validity of a hierarchical model of country image conceptualizations across countries that differ in socio-economic development and distance to the exporting country.
Representative consumer samples in Germany, France, China and Thailand (N ∼ 1,000 per country) completed an online survey on three levels of country image regarding Denmark and attitudes towards buying an organic food product from Denmark. Data were analyzed using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling.
The hierarchical country image model fitted the data well in the two European countries, but not in the two Asian countries. It appears that the hierarchical relationships proposed by the model require a high level of familiarity with and knowledge of the origin country and the product type.
The application scope of the model is considerably narrower than implied by earlier research. Further research should combine data from a number of sources to investigate the model’s application further.
Exporters must pay attention to both the general image of their country and the image of their country with regard to their specific product category, as this impacts consumer product evaluations.
International trade and the success of export strategies ultimately depend on consumer acceptance in importing countries. This study demonstrates how consumer perception of imported products is affected by the exporting country’s image, which may be more or less elaborate and differentiated. It gives exporters new insight into how they can make their marketing effective when entering markets.
This paper is an outcome of the SOMDwIT project, which is part of the Organic RDD 2.2 programme coordinated by ICROFS (International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems). The project is funded by the Green Development and Demonstration Programme under the Danish Ministry for the Environment and Food. Grant number 34009–15-0985. We are grateful to Yangfeng Zhou, Krittinee Nuttavuthisit and Maylis Castell for their help with the Chinese, the Thai and the French translation of the questionnaire, respectively, and to Birgitte Steffensen for proofreading the text.
Thøgersen, J., Aschemann-Witzel, J. and Pedersen, S. (2021), "Country image and consumer evaluation of imported products: test of a hierarchical model in four countries", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 55 No. 2, pp. 444-467. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-09-2018-0601
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