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THE PERCEPTION OF COUNTRY OF ORIGIN AND CONSUMER

ETHNOCENTRISM IN SLOVAK MARKET: DOMESTIC VERSUS FORGEIN


PRODUCTS

Jana Sedláková
Faculty of Agriculture and Horticulture, Department of Agribusiness & Agrarmarketing,
Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

ABSTRACT

This exploratory study examines the consumer perception in field of national food products
and ethnocentric tendencies among slovak young consumers.
An empirical test to measure consumer preferences toward domestic products and a test to
measure consumer ethnocentrism in Slovak market was applied.

In the research of this study is hypothesed that higly ethnocentric consumers will rather
prefer the domestic products than foreign. In additon it is investigated if the consumers buy
the food products, what is the most important for them and why they purchase the domestic
food products. The study also deals with image of the home country and its products.

KEYWORDS: Country-of-origin, consumer preferences, consumer behaviour,


CETSCALE, ethnocentrism

INTRODUCTION

The increasing globalisation in last years has had significant impact on the market for food
products. The companies took the opportunity to participate in foreign markets and found and
are still finding new groups of customers. The distribution of new consumer goods and
servicies all over the world has had impact on consumer decision and preferences in
particular countries.
Therefore, it is recognised that there is a necessity to measure consumer’s attitudes toward
domestic and foreign products (Netermeyer et.al., 1991). In order to develop effective
marketing communication strategies, it is needed to measure the varying perceptions and
attitudes of consumers toward products of a clearly identifiable country-of-origin (Orth et.al.,
2002).

BACKGROUND: LITERATURE REVIEW

A large number of emprical studies have assessed consumer evaluations of products


according to national origin (Niss, 1995).
In many studies the country-of-origin is the cue for evaluation of the products. Schäfer
(1997) stated that while country-of-origin generally seems to have an impact on product
evaluation, the research continues concerning the magnitude of the effect, particulary in the
presence of other extrinsic and intrinsic product information cues.
The country-of-origin (COO) analysis and research focuse on the buyers‘ opinions regarding
the relative qualities of goods and services produced in various countries.

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In recent years, there has been great deal of research exploring this topic. The studies from
Bilkey et.al. (1982), Papadopoulos et.al. (1986), Ettenson et.al. (1988), Hausruckinger
(1993) and others investigated the country-of-origin predominantly in Western European
countries or Western countries (USA, Australia, Japan, etc.). The results of their research
demonstrated that the domestic products enjoy generally more favorable evaluation that
foreign-made products.

Al-Sulaiti and Baker (1998) proposed that the country-of-origin should be the fifth element
of the marketing mix, after price, promotion, product and distribution.

Webb and Po (2000) explain the effect of using of the COO- information. They give the four
reason for it. Firstly, the globalization “constrains” the consumer to watch out by buying of
the food products. Therefore the consumers turn to origin of the products to gain the
additional information about the products. The information about the COO is the indicator of
quality and acceptability for them. Secondly, the COO is used by marketers as a unique
selling proposition. Thirdly, the authors explain the opportunity of COO in the formulation of
a multinational marketing strategy. Last but not least the consumer have the wide access to
products from different countries & become familiar with foreign products (Ozretic-Dosen,
2006).

As mention, the COO has been investigated in wide context in many countries,
predominantly in West Europe, USA and Asia countries. However, the country-of-origin
effect in the Middle & Eastern European countries has not been investigated in many studies
yet. Therefore, the author of this paper decided to study the consumer preferences and their
attitudes toward domestic and foreign products.

The second part of the investigation is the ethnocentrism.


The consumer ethnocentrism was defined by Shimp and Sharma (1987) as “the beliefs held
by consumers about the appropriateness of purchasing products originating in a foreign
country”. They developed the tool for measurement of the ethnocentrism: the scale
CESTSCALE. The CESTSCALE is an 17-item instrument consisted of the Likert-type
sentences for which the subjects express their agreement or disagreement. This method was
used in many research studies to measure consumer ethnocentrism (Shimp et.al., 1987;
Netermeyer et.al., 1991; James et.al., 1990 and others). Even the studies about the consumer
ethnocentrism in the Middle & Eastern European countries were undertaken (Papadopoulos
et.al., 1990; Durvasula et.al., 1992; Ettenson, 1993; Suppehellen et.al., 2001; Orth et.al.,
2002).
The findings of the ethnocentric tendencies in the Middle & Eastern European countries
show that the consumers in these countries tend to prefer Western products because of their
superior quality (Supphellen et.al., 2001). However, the studies from the Western countries
explain the favorable assessment of the domestic products by the consumers there.

From this short literature overview follows the main purpose of this study: Because the
ethnocentric tendencies of the slovak young consumers have not been investigated yet, the
study aims to assess the degree of consumer ethnocentrism of the Slovak young consumers,
their attitudes to domestic food products and home-country and the image of the domestic
products.

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RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY

THE SAMPLE
To capture a homogeneous group of Slovak consumers, the students of 2 Slovak universities
were selected as a general sampling frame. The reason for selection this sample could be
described in following points:
Firstly, the university students provide a possibility of homogenicity, which is needed for
testing. They are high educated young people who are open-minded and have access to
information. Secondly, the current university students represent a new generation of Slovak
consumers since the political changes in the Middle and Eastern Europe in 90thies of the
20thy century. Thirdly, the university students represent the group of potential multipliers
who can influence the consumer’s behaviour and the decision-making for the products in the
future.

THE INSTRUMENT AND MEASURES


To research the attitudes towards domestic products, the self-administrated written
questionnaire was used to collect the data from students during April and May 2006. The
questionnaire was prepared in German language, translated to Slovak by translator and back-
translated to German by another translator to ensure accuracy. The questionnaire in Slovak
language was used for the research. Before research, the Pre-Test was used to specify the
questions used in the questionnaire. The students were recruited at 2 Slovak universities by
trained field representatives.

The questionnaire consisted of 3 sections.


The first section surveyed respondent’s attitudes toward their home country- Slovakia and
Slovak products. Further, the respondents were asked to evaluate specific attributes that
could influence their decision and preferences by buying in general and buying of domestic
products. The country-of-origin perception toward home-products was also investigated. The
questions with 6-point scales and open- questions were used for measurements.

The second section contained the Slovak version of the CESTSCALE with 6-point scale
ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” (Shimp et.al., 1987) to evaluate the
ethnocentric perception of the Slovak young students.
The final section included demographical variables.
The respondents needed approximately 20 minutes to answer the questions.

FINDINGS & RESULTS

From 600 distributed questionnaires, 468 usable were turn back by students. The age of
respondents ranges between 18 and 30 years, with an average age of 21,26 years. The
females with 69,7% are proportionally heavier represented in the sample as males (30,3%).

In the first section, the image of the home-country Slovakia has been investigated. More then
92% of the attitudes to the term “Slovakia” were positive. The respondents expressed their
positive attitudes toward Slovak nature, home country in general, Slovak food & beverages,
tourism and landscape. More then 80% of them considered Slovakia as a friendly, a
hospitality country, the country with the future and traditions.

79,3% of the respondents expressed their preference toward the domestic products. The main
reasons of doing so are: the flavour, freshness, no genetic modified products, the warranty of

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the production and the fact that the production of the domestic products supports the Slovak
economy.

More than half of the respondents (57,8%) pay attention to country-of-origin on the products.

The country-of-origin has been investigated also in other way. The question about the
preference of the cheese from the different countries has been asked. The Slovak products
were preferred mostly; follow by Czech products and Austrian products.

The impact of the different price of the domestic and foreign products has been evaluated
too. If the domestic and foreign products had the same prices, the 88% of the respondents
would prefer domestic products. However, if the price for the domestic products was higher
than for foreign, only 41,2% respondents would prefer the products from their home country.
88,8% of the respondents prefers the domestic products with favourable price.

The second section of the questionnaire investigated the consumer ethnocentrism. The scale
CESTSCALE with 17 questions has been used.
The results show the intensity of the ethnocentrism of the selected sample. The mean value of
the scale was 56,78. The Slovak young consumers show only moderately consumer
ethnocentrism. However, it was found out, that the high ethnocentric consumer prefer rather
the domestic food products.

CONCLUSION
The present study examined the country-of-origin attitude, the consumer ethnocentrism and
the preferences of the Slovak young consumers toward food products.

As the previous results show, the Slovak young consumers are moderately consumer
ethnocentric. The preference for the domestic products is on higher level and more than half
of them pay attention to the country-of-origin information on the products.

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