Drawing from the entitativity theory, the purpose of this paper is to focus on the European Union (EU) as a superordinate entity and investigate the extent to which a “Made-in-EU” designation leads to superior/inferior brand evaluations and through them to higher/lower purchase intentions than different country-specific designations.
Prior literature and qualitative interviews with consumers are used to generate several propositions regarding the role of the EU as a brand origin. These are subsequently tested in a series of four experimental studies using a common design but different country-specific origins as stimuli.
While a “Made-in-EU” designation is interpreted as a quality signal, linking a brand to the EU fails to generate positive affective associations. Furthermore, the exact impact of a “Made-in-EU” brand designation very much depends on the standard of comparison, that is, the specific country against which the EU is evaluated.
Superordinate designations such as the EU can indeed represent distinct entities in consumers’ minds which strongly impact their perceptions and intended behavior.
Moving from a “home country” label to a “Made-in-EU” label is not advisable for owners of domestic brands. For foreign brands from EU countries with an unfavorable country image, adopting a “Made-in-EU” label is worth considering since it can strengthen quality perceptions. However, any quality advantage might be offset by weaker brand affect perceptions.
The concept of entitativity introduces a new conceptual lens in the context of origin research which – almost exclusively – has previously focused on the individual country as the unit of analysis.
The authors thank the anonymous reviewers and the IMR guest editor for useful comments and suggestions on a previous version of this paper. The authors also thank the Dr Theo and Friedl Schöller Research Center for Business and Society for supporting this study.
Diamantopoulos, A., Herz, M. and Koschate-Fischer, N. (2017), "The EU as superordinate brand origin: an entitativity perspective", International Marketing Review, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 183-205. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-03-2015-0097
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