Does Brand Origin Really Matter in the Luxury Sector? The Impact of Consumer Origin and Consumer Ethnocentrism on Consumers’ Responses: An Abstract
This paper investigates the significance of luxury fashion brands’ country of origin on consumers’ responses based on brand origin matching consumers’ origin. The results of two experiments indicate that respondents do not have an explicit preference toward home brands (i.e., French respondents do not state a preference toward French luxury brands; Italian respondents do not prefer Italian brands in self-report measures). Yet, when assessed indirectly (through an Implicit Association Test based on response-latency measures), there is an implicit preference toward luxury brands from the home country over foreign countries, particularly among respondents with high levels of consumer ethnocentrism. In addition, when exposed to messages of delocalization to a foreign country, respondents adopt defensive responses to home brands (e.g., denial) and negative responses to foreign brands (e.g., decrease in quality perception and alteration of luxury image). This research concludes that even if brand origin is not salient when consumers evaluate brands and does not determine explicit brand preferences, brand origin is nonetheless present below awareness (implicit preferences), as part of the brand heritage and the brand identity; it influences brand liking, brand image and might be weighted as a purchase decision making criterion. It might manifest in defensive reactions in the home country (e.g., Keep Burberry British! in 2007). It might also take the form of consumers’ higher perceived risk and guilt when purchasing counterfeits of home brands versus foreign brands (see Chakraborty et al. 1996). In the luxury sector, the made-in has legitimacy to be promoted by brands as it contributes significantly to the perception of luxury and reinforces the emotional bond with consumers in the home country.