One of the most studied phenomena in marketing and branding is known as the country of origin effect. This refers to the influence that labeling a product with its country of origin has on consumers. In some cases, country of origin labeling can boost sales by appealing to patriotism, but in other cases it can actually discourage customers from buying by invoking negative stereotypes (such as the view that products made in China are low-quality or come from sweatshops).
To determine whether country of origin labeling might help your sales, a few factors should be taken into consideration. First of all, it's important to understand who your target audience is and how they feel about your product's country of origin.
For example, a recent University of Arkansas study revealed that people in the United States show a strong preference for meat that's labeled as also being from the U.S. This was found to be due to their view "that meat products from the United States are perceived to be safer, tastier and fresher than meat products from Mexico," according to marketing professor Scot Burton.
However, when participants were told that meat processing safety standards were the same in the U.S. and Mexico, the bias toward American meat disappeared. This suggests that country of origin labeling may have more of an effect on customers who already have jingoistic attitudes and believe that products from their country are inherently superior.
So should you label your product with its country of origin? If you're a manufacturer of American flags, baseballs or meat products, maybe. If you sell items associated with worldliness, like wine or ethnic food, it's probably best to leave that "Made in U.S.A" label off.
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