The variable nature of country-to-brand association and its impact on the strength of the country-of-origin effect

Mikael Andéhn, Patrick L'Espoir Decosta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent research has shown that the country-of-origin (COO) effect – the influence on consumers’ attitudes and purchase behavior derived from a brand’s perceived association with a country – is inextricably linked to consumer perception. The purpose of this paper is to examine this shift by considering origin as a characteristic derived from perceived association and also by proposing that this association varies by degree, rather than simply acting as a binary attribute in its effect on consumer attitudes.

Data from a test series in which respondents (n=100) rated 38 brand-country pairs were put to split-half multi-group analysis tests to capture the moderating influence of association strength (AS) on several facets of country image (CI) simultaneously.

AS is a variable that exerts a moderating influence on how different dimensions of CI influence consumers’ evaluation of brands.

Research limitations/implications
The findings indicate that origin, as a characteristic, should be considered an association that is variable by degree and not as dichotomous. The implications of such a shift are broad, not only for the theoretical understanding of the COO effect but also for marketing and brand management practice. Accounting for AS allows for more accurate prediction of how consumers will react to COO.

The paper explicitly demonstrates that the strength of country-brand association moderates COO’s influence on brand equity. Such a relationship had previously only been theoretically implied but had not been empirically tested across multiple categories of products on multiple levels of CI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-866
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2016

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