“We prefer products from stereotypical countries”

Country-of-Origin Effect

Country-of-Origin Effect

We tend to stereotype products based on their country of origin. This effect is specific to a product category, and particularly relevant for brands with a weak country of origin (e.g. countries that we stereotype as producing low quality goods). Especially quality perception is vulnerable to the Country of Origin-effect and the effect is higher when we’re a novice in the market.

For example – Germany is typically known for building good cars, whereas the French produce the best wine, the Swiss the best watches, and the Japanese are known for good TV sets.

One way to counter our country of origin stereotyping bias is to encourage us to use our imaginations in positive ways.


Scientific research example:

Imagine you intend to buy a digital camera. Would you prefer a German camera or the exact same camera made in Poland? Professor Brett Martin (2011) found that the German camera receives much higher evaluations and purchase intentions than the Polish one because we tend to stereotype German products as being of good quality (and Polish ones as poor quality).

However, Martin also found that providing counter evidence, or make someone imagine a counter stereotype experience, helps to mitigate negative country of origin perceptions.


Online Persuasion tips:

  • First analyze whether your country-of-origin is advantageous of disadvantageous

When advantageous:

  • Subtly remind your customers of your country of origin (e.g. by mentioning, using country specific icons, colors, etc.)
  • Co-brand with other country stereotypes (icons, brands, products,…)
When disadvantageous:
  • Try to sell your product through retailers that originate from a ‘positive country of origin’
  • And either avoided or minimally mention your country of origin, or
  • Activate counter stereotypical associations. For example, by advertising product attributes that replace preconceived country notions, display counter stereotyped ratings and reviews


Further Reading on the Country-of-Origin Effect:

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