International vs. domestic – which brands are preferred?

One of the most common assumptions in the marketing world is that B2B products are much easier to sell worldwide, without localization, than B2C (or consumer) products. This assumption is even more pronounced when it comes to food products, since food preferences are normally persistently local in nature.  One only has to peruse the list of Coca Cola products sold worldwide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Coca-Cola_brands)  to see how even the Coke product line has been adjusted to adapt to local tastes.

However, Anselmsson, Johansson, & Persson (2008) found – based on a survey of 2000 Swedish consumers –  in terms of both brand liking and brand preferences, there was no discernable difference between international and domestic brand equity for food products.

Anselmsson et al. note that in order to examine brand equity, one must understand brand assets, strength, and value, as described below:

  • Brand assets – the attributes that give the brand positive connotations, such as quality or perceived social status. If the assets are strong and highly positive, the brand equity is stronger.
  • Brand strength – the overall judgment of the brand in comparison to other brands. This includes willingness to pay a price premium or maintain loyalty even when competing products are introduced.
  • Brand value – usually defined from a financial or accounting perspective.

To expand further on the idea of brand strength, Anselmsson et al. studied the concepts of brand liking and brand preference.

  • Brand liking – measures how positive and strong the brand is from the customer’s perspective. This is purely attitude and doesn’t have a direct link to behavior, such as purchasing, but it underlies the assumption that in order to build a long-term relationship with a brand, one must like it.
  • Brand preference – measures consumer behavior as compared to competing brands in terms of initial purchases, re-purchases, or price premium willingness.

Anselmsson et al. then placed brand liking and preference in a four-cell matrix to develop the following four brand equity types: relative brand strength (upper left quadrant), true brand strength (upper right quadrant), weak brands (lower left quadrant), and niche brands (lower right quadrant).

This matrix, developed on the results from the questionnaire, showed an equal mix of international and domestic brands in all four quadrants – with the implication that it may be easier to globally distribute food products then previously realized.

References:

Anselmsson, J., Johansson, U., Persson, N. (2008). “The battle of brands in the Swedish market for consumer packaged food: a cross-category examnation of brand preference and liking.” Brand Management. 16 (1/2), pp. 63-79.

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