Country Image and Product Evaluations: Impact of a Personai Contact with a Country
Keywords:country of origin, country image, conative elements, cognitive elements, psychic closeness, general product evaluations
AbstractIn the context of globalization, consumers in majority of countries are increasingly exposed to products from foreign countries as well as have direct experience of visiting these countries. Personal experience with a country influences one's perception about a country as well as its products. The mechanism of this influence is complex and still evolving, presenting a research problem of this study.On the basis of previous studies, the authors of this article suggest a different model of research. This model segregates conative and cognitive aspects of the country image, and argues that conative ones may be interpreted as one's psychic closeness to a country. The aim of the article is to test the model, analyzing how personal experience with a country and demographic parameters impact on psychic closeness, image of a country and general evaluations of products from that country.The study is performed in Lithuania, on the basis of mail survey, developed on the judgemental sampling approach. Germany was used as a target country for measuring respondents' psychic closeness, country image and general evaluations of products from this country. The main constructs were measured on the basis of modified scale proposed by R. Parameswaran & M. Pisharodi (1994). Personal experience with a country was measured by registering visits to the country or temporary living in it. In total, 539 questionnaires were included in the analysis.The analysis revealed appropriateness of the study approach and allows us to highlight some differences, occurring on the basis of personal experience. It was confirmed that the country image depends on personal experience from the country and that general evaluation of products also depends on personal experience from the country. However, the link between personal experience and psychic distance requires further analysis and testing.In addition, some differences were observed on the basis of various demographic parameters of respondents.More general interpretation of findings is difficult due to the scope of the study, since the major parameters are measured on the basis of just two countries. This complicates segregation of country-specific observations from the general ones. Despite this limitation, the study suggests further steps in researching the issue, since the overall model has proved its appropriateness.
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