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Measuring country of origin effects in online shopping implicitly: a discrete choice analysis approach

Benedikt M. Brand (Chair of Marketing and Innovation, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany)
Daniel Baier (Chair of Marketing and Innovation, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 26 May 2022

Issue publication date: 4 August 2022




To examine whether the country of origin (COO) effect actually exists in an e-commerce context, the authors intend to contribute to the ongoing debate by measuring the COO effect through a series of connected studies.


Drawing on cue utilization theory, the authors emphasize the urge to investigate the COO effect in multiple cue settings in order to reveal a more realistic picture of its actual effect size. In contrast to most prior research, which often does not analyze COO using methodological plurality and neglects important contextual factors, the authors employed a four-staged research design in an attempt to trigger and measure the COO’s implicit effect size in today’s pervasive context of online shopping. The importance of brands (inhering the COO) is decompositionally calculated relative to other extrinsic cues by applying a Hierarchical Bayes estimation, with the COO impact being extracted subsequently.


The results deepen concerns that the COO effect actually does not exist, particularly in the more contemporary context of online shopping. Specifically, preferences for previously favored German products faded when controlling for brand attitude for both high-involvement (p = 0.003) and low-involvement products (p = 0.024).

Research limitations/implications

The study focused on consumers of Generation Y, as they represent one of the most important segments in online shopping. Findings might be replicated for other consumer generations. The study focused on Chinese consumers, as the Chinese e-commerce market represents the world’s largest one. Future studies might investigate other markets.

Practical implications

As brands, rather than a COO effect, impacted consumer preferences, companies selling their products to Chinese consumers online need to establish a reputation for quality early on. Chinese companies should emphasize their COO to make use of the ethnocentrism detected. Companies profit from the Best-Worst Scaling investigation revealing which product categories Chinese consumers most preferably buy online from German companies.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to capture the importance of COO in the contemporary context of ubiquitous online shopping. Moreover, a more realistic and less biased way of measuring the importance of COO is enabled by building upon three pre-connected studies. The findings allow to develop a generalization for both high- and low-involvement products.



We would like to express our deep gratitude to the Universitätsverein Bayreuth e.V. and the RWalumni Bayreuth, who helped financing the two panels used in this study.

Funding: This research received funding from the Universitätsverein Bayreuth e.V. and the RWalumni Bayreuth.

Conflicts of interest: None.


Brand, B.M. and Baier, D. (2022), "Measuring country of origin effects in online shopping implicitly: a discrete choice analysis approach", International Marketing Review, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 955-983.



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