Multidimensional structures of brand and country images, and their effects on product evaluation

Yamen Koubaa

Brest Business School

Rym Methamem Boudali

University of Tunis

Fatitha Fort

SupAgro

The marketing literature abounds with research evidence in support of a significant effect of product country image on brand image perception, product evaluation and subsequent consumer behaviour (Bilkey & Nes 1982; Verlegh & Steenkamp 1999; Jaffe & Nebenzahl 2001).

The effect of product country image on brand image and subsequent consumer behaviour has valuable strategic implications for firms operating in domestic and international markets. The relevance of product country image gains more in salience when one considers the increasing trend towards free trade and outsourcing activities. Country and brand image is one of the most researched topics in international marketing and consumer behaviour (Peterson & Jolibert 1995), with more than 1,000 research texts published since the 1960s (Usunier 2006). Though the researches are numerous, few have attempted to conceptualise, in one model, country image and brand image as multidimensional constructs actually measured by a set of separate dimensions (Hsieh et al. 2004; Laroche et al. 2005). The multidimensional aspect of human cognitive structure (Farquhar & Herr 1993) implies that consumers are likely to perceive images through different dimensions, varying in terms of strength and number. The present paper aims to study these two concepts, their interactions and their effects on product evaluation across several products, brands and countries. The primary goal is to provide further clarification on the complex issue of country image and brand image cognitive processing and structure. The study proposes and tests a model of the associative links between the various constructs. We first describe and empirically test country image and brand image as multidimensional concepts. Subsequently, we test the relationship between country image, brand image and product evaluation. The findings are then interpreted and practical implications discussed.