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Purpose: This paper offers a new perspective of country of origin effects on consumers’ brand personality perceptions of domestic and imported automobiles. It assesses the perceived similarities and differences between automobiles from two countries with respect to the country of origin of the brand (COB) and the country of manufacturing (COM) of that same brand.

Design/methodology/approach: An experimental design was used to investigate developed country consumers’ brand personality perceptions of three cars; a domestic car, a car manufactured in a developing country by a developing country manufacturer, and a car from developing country manufacturer that is manufactured in the developed country. Data was collected in the United States and therefore a U.S. car was used as the developed country car. China was selected as the developing country of origin. A structured questionnaire was used to collect primary data.

Findings: Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) indicates that consumers’ brand personality perceptions varied according to the country of origin (COB) of the brand and the country of manufacture (COM) of the brand. We show that the COM of a car influenced the perceived brand personality of the car more than the COB. In some respects the Chinese car made in the U.S. was perceived to have a stronger brand personality than the U.S. car made in China. This suggests that for cars the COM exerts a greater influence on the perceived personality of a brand than the COB.

Research limitations/implications: While this paper offers an exploratory glimpse of potential challenges and opportunities facing domestic and developing country automotive manufacturers, future research should take a larger respondent pool, respondents from other countries, other automotive manufacturers as well as assess the impact of COM and COB on purchase intention and behavior.

Practical implications: Manufacturers of cars must understand the effect of country of origin and country of manufacturing of a brand on consumers’ brand perceptions in order to build, position and protect their brands in various international markets.

Originality/value: This paper provides an important contribution to the existing literature and business practice by providing a new perspective on country of origin research by using the multi-dimensional construct of brand personality and analyzing the relationship between country of origin of a brand and country of manufacturing of that same brand. Moreover, it addressed a timely issue by investigating the challenges and opportunities Chinese and American car manufacturers are facing.


This article was originally published in International Marketing Review, Vol. 27 Iss: 2. View the article online at:

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International Marketing Review