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Effects of country-of-origin stereotypes on consumer responses to product-harm crises

Camilla Barbarossa (Department of Marketing and International Business, Toulouse Business School, Toulouse, France)
Patrick De Pelsmacker (Department of Marketing, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium)
Ingrid Moons (Department of Marketing, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 14 May 2018

1842

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate “how” and “when” the stereotypes of competence and warmth, that are evoked by a foreign company’s country-of-origin (COO), affect blame attributions and/or attitudes toward a company’s products when a company is involved in a product-harm crisis.

Design/methodology/approach

Study 1 (n=883) analyzes the psychological mechanisms through which perceived COO competence and warmth differently affect blame attributions and evaluative responses. Study 2 (n=1,640) replicates Study 1’s findings, and it also investigates how consumer ethnocentrism, animosity toward a country, and product category characteristics moderate the hypothesized COO’s effects.

Findings

COO competence leads to more favorable attitudes toward the involved company’s products. This effect increases when the company sells high-involvement or utilitarian products. COO warmth leads to more favorable attitudes toward the involved company’s products directly as well as indirectly by diminishing blame attributions. These effects increase when consumers are highly ethnocentric, or the animosity toward a foreign country is high.

Originality/value

This paper frames the investigation of COO stereotypes in a new theoretical and empirical setting, specifically, a product-harm crisis. It demonstrates that consumers differently evaluate a potential wrongdoing company and its harmful products in a product-harm crisis based on their perceptions of a company’s COO competence and warmth. Finally, it defines the moderating effects of individual, consumer-country-related and product characteristics on the hypothesized COO effects.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are extremely grateful for the constructive comments of the three anonymous reviewers, the sage guidance of the associate editor, and the support of the editor. Mark Cleveland served as associate editor for this article.

Citation

Barbarossa, C., De Pelsmacker, P. and Moons, I. (2018), "Effects of country-of-origin stereotypes on consumer responses to product-harm crises", International Marketing Review, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 362-389. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-06-2016-0122

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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