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Previous studies conducted in developed countries havedemonstrated that ethnocentric consumers are more willing tobuy domestic products. This study investigates the moderatingroles of quality judgment of domestic products and conspicuousconsumption (CC) in the relationship between consumerethnocentrism and willingness to buy domestic products (WBD)in the context of a developing country, namely the Peopleâ€™sRepublic of China. The results support the hypothesis that theimpact of ethnocentrism on consumer WBD tends to be weakerwhen consumers judge them as being of lower quality, or whenconsumers hold higher CC values. The conceptual andmanagerial implications for developing countries, includingChina, are discussed
Globalization presents considerable challengesand opportunities for international marketers.The relaxation of trade policies has providedconsumerswith moreforeign productchoices thanever before. Consequently, their attitudes towardproducts originating from foreign countries havebeen of interest to international business andconsumer behavior researchers for decades.Previous studies on the country-of-origin effect(COE), most of which have been conducted indeveloped countries, have found that consumershave a general preference for domestic over foreignmerchandise, particularly when they lackinformation about the product (Bilkey and Nes,1982; Damanpour, 1993; Elliott and Camoron,1994; Wall and Heslop, 1986, 1989). The reasonsfor this preference range from a risk-reducing biastoward merchandise made in developing countriesto a patriotic bias against foreign products (Bilkeyand Nes, 1982; Herche, 1992). The relationshipbetweencountry-of-originandthequalityimageof imported products is especially strong whenconsumer ethnocentrism (CE) is involved(Agbonifoh and Elimimian, 1999; Shimp andSharma, 1987).The tendency of consumers to be ethnocentricrepresents their beliefs about the appropriatenessand moral legitimacy of purchasing foreignproducts (Shimp and Sharma, 1987).Ethnocentric consumers prefer domestic goodsbecause they believe that products from their owncountryarethebest(Klein
,1998).Moreover,a concern for morality leads consumers topurchase domestic products even though thequality is poorer than that of imports (Wall andHeslop, 1986). CE may play a signiï¬cant rolewhen people believe that their personal or nationalwell-being is under threat from imports (Sharma
, 1995; Shimp and Sharma, 1987). The moreimportance a consumer places on whether or not aproduct is made in his/her home country, thehigher his/her ethnocentric tendency (Huddleston
, 2001). Research from the US and otherdeveloped countries generally support the notionthat highly ethnocentric consumers overestimatedomestic products, underestimate imports, have apreference for, and feel a moral obligation to buy,domestic merchandise (Netemeyer
, 1995; Shimp and Sharma, 1987).While CE may be regarded as a means bywhich to differentiate between consumer groupswho prefer domestic to foreign products
, 2001), its inï¬‚uence onwillingness to buy domestic products (WBD) islikely to vary between technologically/economically-developed anddevelopingcountries.Research shows that consumers in developedcountries tend to perceive domestic products asbeing of higher quality than imported products(Damanpour, 1993; Dickerson, 1982; Eliott andCameron, 1994; Herche, 1992; Morganosky andLazarde, 1987) whereas the reverse is true forconsumers in developing countries (Agbonifohand Elimimian, 1999; Batra
, 2000; Bow andFord, 1993; Sklair, 1994; Wang
, 2000).Given that consumersâ€™ evaluation of the quality of domestic/imported products will inï¬‚uence theirpurchase preferences, the impact of ethnocentrismon willingness to buy will be different betweendeveloping and developed countries. Thisdiscrepancy will be more pronounced when theimport is related to conspicuous consumption(CC), as consumers in developing countries oftenregard foreign products as status symbols (Alden
, 1999; Batra
, 2000; Ger
, 1997; Mason, 1981). In particular,we believe that the negative effect of CE onwillingness to buy products imported fromdeveloped countries will interact with the positiveeffect of such importsâ€™ brand image. In otherwords, the functional (perceived product quality)and symbolic (CC) beneï¬ts that consumers expectfrom imported products will counteract theinï¬‚uence of their ethnocentrism.Due to the differences in levels of economic andtechnological development, values and attitudestoward consumption will also differ betweendeveloped and developing countries. This meansthat ï¬ndings about CE and purchasing behavior inthe former may not be generalizable to the latter,especially when considering the effects of interaction with product judgement (PJ) and/orCC.
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