A study of Associations Evoked by Direct and Indirect Country of Origin Markers

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The use of foreign language or mentioning a country of origin (COO) creates a link with the country the languages belongs to in the consumers’ mind, a link that can be used to transfer associations consumers have with a country to the product advertised. Such an association can be positive when the product is congruent with the country, though is likely to be negative when the product is incongruent with the country. The aim of this study was to find which associations were evoked by indirect COO markers (i.e. a foreign language) and indirect COO markers (i.e. directly mentioning the COO) and how they differ from each other. An experiment was conducted, consisting of a questionnaire in which participants were asked to give their associations with the direct COO marker, indirect COO marker and a general country marker. The questionnaire was filled in by 210 participants, resulting in a total of 2978 associations. These associations were coded and analyzed on category, valence and COO-relatedness, resulting in evidence for differences between the different markers. Differences were found in nine of the eleven categories created by the coders. Indirect COO markers evoked the most positive associations, whilst they also evoked the least COO-related associations. Therefore, businesses would do well to include specifically indirect COO markers, but also direct COO markers, in their advertisements to evoke the most positive associations with a congruent product. Keywords: Foreign language use, country of origin, advertisements, associations, congruent products, indirect marker, direct marker
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