Country of origin, is it credible?

Should country of origin be important in our industry like it is in others?

If you have ever seen any adverts for alcohol in particular spirits, and let’s face it you can’t avoid them, you may have noticed that many of them concentrate on country of origin (where the product is made). Vodka from Russia, whiskey from Scotland, wine from France, cider from the West Country the list goes on. This doesn’t just happen with alcohol though many brands use country of origin as a cue for consumers towards the quality, style and value of their products.

Well this got us to thinking; we don’t really see any of this type of advertising in the catering equipment industry. Now the fact that it works well with alcohol, cars even music doesn’t mean that it would work with catering equipment it doesn’t even mean it is necessary but we thought it was at least worth looking into.

There are some definite stereotypes when it comes to products from certain countries, often it is assumed products from Germany are well built with good functionality, products from China are thought of as cheap, those from the US as big and sturdy and then those from the likes of Italy and France as being built with finesse. As far as we can tell these stereotypes exist in our industry just as much as in others yet this is not a message that is readily communicated to consumers. There is one other consideration when it comes to catering equipment though and that is people perception of the type of food synonymous with a products COO (country of origin).

We often assume that people are rational beings and makes choices based on facts and logical arguments. However we should never underestimate the emotional aspect of consumers buying decisions. It is this irrational, emotional part of a consumer COO is appealing to, after all I’m sure we would all admit that it is more than conceivable that a quality product could come from china or a poor one from Germany or indeed that a product from Italy could be built with function taking precedent of style (WARNING: yes this is blatant undeniable self promoting, see our Moduline, Silko and Marrone ranges ).

It seems there is massive scope for a debate on the use of COO as a marketing tool on the one hand it does seem to patronise customers presenting them with COO over information needed for a rational decision yet on the other hand it does provide a lot of information to consumers about a product without requiring a lot of effort on behalf of the consumer and providing that the product matches those stereotypes of the country in question there is less of an ethical question to be answered.

Separate to this is the concept that COO can give information about the environmental and economic impact that a product may have. How far has it been shipped? Does the COO have good environmental policies over production of such equipment do the workers in that country have good working rights and receive a fair level of pay? However it is probably best if we keep this can of worms closed and instead open it on another day.

Have you used COO in your advertisements? Would you consider it? Do you think it is something that needs to be communicated or is just a cheap gimmick?

Or maybe you have received adverts with COO as a main feature what did you make of them? Do they help in your decision making or do you think it’s only there to take your attention away from the fact of figures of the equipment?

Any thoughts on the topic would be very welcome.

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2 Responses to Country of origin, is it credible?

  1. The country of origin effect in marketing is in my opinion significant and based on many factors, brand image, brand personality, brand associations, communication messages.

    These values influence the perception of customers about the quality of a brand. The core reason a company invests in branding is to assist customers in making purchase decisions by providing cues on quality, credibility and value about a product. One such factor that influences perceptions towards brands is the place where it is made.

    I am of the opinion that marketing has proven that country associations do lead to customer opinion forming. Such effects are based on the image of the country in customer’s minds. This leads to the next obvious question following on from your initial post question, what constitutes an image of a country? What makes French the best country for wines, what makes Germany the best in engineering and what makes Switzerland the best in watch manufacturing? Many factors contribute to the country image. How the catering equipment sector might adopt this techique is indeed and interesting question.

    Denis Sheehan
    Publisher, Hospitality and Catering News

  2. Hi Denis,

    Firstly thanks for your comment and apologies for the slightly slow response.

    For me their are two main points, firstly is COO ethical and secondly if it is to be used how do we go about that in the catering industry.

    On the subject of its ethics I agree there are many thing which make up brand image and COO is only a small part of this. However it is a part that is often incorrect and COO is communicated by a brand who know full well that the perceptions the consumer will have are not correct perceptions of their product it sits very uncomfortably with me. I think COO can be an effect tool and is useful not only to marketer but also consumer however only if it is used ethically by marketers and I feel there is a tendency to use COO negatively.

    The second point of how it may be used in the industry is interesting. I think there are two main associations that will play a part in its use in catering equipment. The first is the obvious, that of manufacturing quality just like with cars, or other expensive performance machinery. The second is the style of and stereotypes attached to the food produced in the COO.

    Do you feel that consumers prefer French food cooked by a French chef? Or Chinese food by a Chinese chef? If this is the case perhaps the this same implications of Italian equipment for Italian food my be the use of COO in the catering equipment industry?


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