The Country of Ownership Paradox
Abstract: Purpose: The purpose of the thesis is to explore how the ownership transfer from a developed country to a developing country influences consumers’ perception of the brand. Design/methodology/approach: After the extensive review of the literature about the concept of country of origin and brand image, three premium automobile brand acquisition cases (Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo) were investigated. The data collection and analysis follows a qualitative approach by gathering data with the help of netnography and ethnographic content analysis (ECA). Research limitations/implications: The thesis focuses exclusively on the perspective of the western culture consumer. It studies only the automobile industry and is restricted to two developing countries (China and India). Furthermore, it only considers data from the time of the acquisitions. Thus, more extensive research is suggested to gain more insight regarding the consequences of the ownership change. Also, the study follows a qualitative approach. Therefore, a quantitative research would be necessary to quantify and test the assumptions. Theoretical Contribution: The findings of the thesis propose that the change of a brand’s country of ownership (COOW) can either influence consumers’ perceived brand origin (BO) or activate consumers’ secondary association with the change of the product’s country of manufacture (COM), country of design (COD) or country of parts (COP), which later on indirectly affects consumer perception. Practical implications: After an ownership transfer, an intensive marketing communication campaign is required. Addressing either the original brand’s heritage or promoting the new brand owner’s image might be profitable. The techniques of crisis management communication can also be utilized. Furthermore, managers can also take advantage of the highly loyal fans by turning them into brand ambassadors. Originality/value: The research aims to fill the knowledge gap regarding COOW and its consequence on consumer perception. In the era of globalization, it is essential to consider all the aspects of COO such as COD; COM; COP and especially COOW, therefore it is unexpected to see that most research still considers COO as the single cue.
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