Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Flood with Attractive Country-of-Origin Images

Last Thursday, I ate dinner at Sterling’s, the white tablecloth establishment in Reno, Nevada’s Silver Legacy hotel. I was in the area to fulfill my intensive-format course responsibilities on the teaching faculty at University of Nevada-Reno College of Extended Studies.
     As I was looking over the Sterling’s menu, the waiter asked if he might tell me about “a very special special.” Without waiting for my answer, he announced it was a Kobe beef hamburger. He then leaned down to speak more softly into my ear. “It is priced at $39 tonight.”
     I was ready to reply, “Does the $39 include the pickles?” But what stopped me was the realization, popping out of my longer-term memory, that Kobe beef comes from only one country—Japan, and my more recently stored memory of all the nuclear trauma there. So I replied, “Does the Kobe beef hamburger shine in the dark?”
     Judging by the glance I received from the waiter, I concluded mine had not been a white tablecloth question.
     Researchers at Australia’s QUT Business School and New Zealand’s University of Auckland probably would have suggested, based on their research findings, that my waiter should have started off by asking me to visualize pleasant scenes of Japan, or even of Japanese movies I’d enjoyed in the past.
     Shoppers associate certain countries of origin with desirable product characteristics. Sometimes the association is product-specific: Cheeses and perfumes from France have a special cachet, as do cutlery and timepieces from Switzerland.
     The association between country of origin and perceptions of quality can change. Decades ago, many American consumers avoided any item they learned was manufactured in Japan, since Japan was associated with slapdash production.
     Then publicity surrounding Japanese attention to quality assurance and the high marks given by objective raters—particularly to Japanese-manufactured automobiles—led to American retailers considering a “Made in Japan” label as a selling aid. However, with the troubles Toyota was having last year, Japanese quality was again questioned.
     The QUT/Auckland research found that when country-of-origin information elicits an immediate negative reaction in a consumer, the emotion can be eased by asking the consumer to visualize positive scenes involving the country. Other research finds that similar effects can be obtained when the consumer is surrounded with pleasant memorabilia from the country.
     In other words, I’d have been somewhat more likely to order the Kobe beef in a Japanese-themed restaurant than at Sterling’s.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more:
Feature Country-of-Origin Advantages
Feature Underappreciated National Origin Products

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