This thesis examines the impact of the country of origin effect on consumer purchase decisions. In light of the recent decomposition of the major country of origin cue - "Made in" - and new research into country of origin effects on brands, this study proposes the exploration of a new construct - "Owned by". Little is understood about the "Owned by" cue, however it is widely used in marketing communications strategies. This thesis examines the importance of the "Owned by" cue to consumers, and discusses the implications of its use for marketing theory and practice.
This study investigates the "Owned by" cues' importance to consumers. A model is proposed whereby market segments based on the importance of "Made in", "Owned by" and "Price" can be explained by the individual differences: Consumer Ethnocentrism; Economic Nationalism; and the Need for Cognition. The techniques used to examine this model are conjoint analysis, cluster analysis and multiple discriminant analysis.
The results indicate that the nationality of a company is important to consumers, as expressed through the "Owned by" cue. This cue is distinct from the "Made in" cue which relates to the location of manufacturing. "Made in" and "Owned by" were found to be distinct constructs. Further, consumers could be segmented based on the use of the "Made in" and "Owned by" cues into those for whom "Made in" was more important, those for whom "Owned by" was more important, and those for whom they were equally important. While no difference could be found between these segments based on individual differences, when segments were formed using individual utilities, the new construct of economic nationalism provided some discriminatory power. Marketing practitioners can now use the "Owned by" cue with more confidence knowing that it is an important and distinct marketing tool. The "Owned by" and economic nationalism constructs are now offered for further research.