The purpose of this study is to attempt to address the effect of country of origin (COO) from three different dimensions, namely, country image (CI) effect, COO image effect and awareness level about the COO of the brand and its resultant effect on product evaluation (PrEva). Further, the brand awareness, level of involvement and the COO interaction effect on consumer PrEva has also been studied to indicate the intensity of COO impact. Due to rapid globalization and reduction in trade barriers, major emerging economics from Asia witnessed entry of cross-border brands into their markets. India, as an emerging economy, has also followed the trend. In this backdrop, the present study is proposed for a better understanding of the effect of COO on PrEva.
The study has been conducted in India, and the mobile phone market has been taken as the hub of the study because of the presence of maximum cross-border companies in India. The study is built on existing literature on influence of COO, brand image (BI), awareness about brands, CI and product image on consumer’s evaluation of mobile phones. Seven theoretical constructs have been used to test the relationship between the COO and consumer PrEva for the selected product with the help of structural equation modeling technique.
The study shows that brand awareness for the class of mobile phones selected does not affect PrEva whereas CI, which is a general perception about the country from where the product originates, significantly affects consumers’ PrEva. Results also show that COO does not act as a mediator between CI and PrEva even though COO has a significant negative direct effect on PrEva. Thus, from this study, the learning for marketers in this price segment for mobile phones in emerging markets is that consumers are more sensitive to features per price than any other influencers. So, BI and/or COO are not sufficient conditions for product success in emerging market like India.
The findings are outcomes of an empirical study conducted in mobile handset industry of India based on the sample set of urban consumers in the city of Kolkata, India. It is quite possible that there may be other issues relevant to other parts of the country. This may influence the degree of association studied herein. Hence, the results may be treated with caution in terms of the generalizations of the same to other regions and countries. The study may, in future, be done by including questions related to price sensitivity and perception about features of the mobile phone hand-sets. This may give a clearer picture about the influences of these factors on PrEva of mobile phones in emerging markets. Finally, this study should be repeated in other major emerging markets to test the general applicability of the theoretical model and the empirical results introduced in this paper.
For the low-end mobile handset market, general country characteristics from where the product originates reduce the importance of specific product attributes in evaluating the product. We may further conclude from the present study that the country’s overall image can be an effective tool to influence the consumer PrEva process. To be competitive in an emerging country like India, multinational firms should promote the overall country’s image to cement relationship with target consumers.
Moreover, Ahmed and d’Astous (1996) viewed that several empirical research have independently focused on the impact of COO on the country, product or brand level, but there is lack of an integrated approach in this regard to capture different propensity of effects of COO at different levels. To our knowledge, it is one of the first attempts to analyze consumers’ PrEva of mobile phones in an emerging market.
Banerjee, S. and Ray Chaudhuri, B. (2014), "Influence of COO on product evaluation of mobile phones by Indian consumers: an empirical study", Journal of Asia Business Studies, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 209-232. https://doi.org/10.1108/JABS-07-2011-0031Download as .RIS
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