Focusing on the positives, for example, the Japanese equipment is usually regarded as reliable, the German quality and robustness are well known, the Swiss have so much precision that we trusted them with our watches, and the French are creative and chic.
On the other hand, negative stereotypes about countries translated into huge efforts for some brands. Skoda had to work, when entering the UK market in 1995, to change the perception that Eastern Europe cars are poor quality. The brand was received with cruel jokes like “How do you double the value of a Skoda? Fill it up with gas.”
And does anyone have any idea why Hungarian wines used to have a bad reputation in Western Europe? Because I can’t get to the bottom of that one.
Is country of origin working in your advantage?
It depends a lot on the industry you’re in.
In my current domain, software, the country of origin effect helps quite a lot. Romania comes with the reputation of having exceptionally gifted brains in mathematics (Romania was ranked No. 1 in Europe and No. 10 worldwide at the International Mathematical Olympiad 2012) and informatics (Romania was ranked 1st among EU states at the International Olympiad in Informatics 2012, with three gold medals and one bronze).
Also, the Romanian IT sector is well-known for producing high quality software with great understanding of the client’s business needs while keeping the costs competitive. The workforce in this sector is appreciated for excellent skills, good education, as well as for the cultural and language affinity with the U.S. and Western Europe countries.
I use these facts and emphasize the country of origin in the marketing communication, as it works in my company’s benefit and it gives me a competitive advantage in the international markets where we’re present. What I also leverage is the fact that my company has a strong brand in Romania, the country with a great IT reputation. Double-win.
The nationality factor is not under the control of any private company, but the negative or positive perceptions regarding your home market must be incorporated in the global marketing strategy and leveraged or mitigated by the international marketer, as these biases affect the perceived quality of the company’s brand.
I mean – would you buy [place here any negative stereotype] from [country]?
About the author: Roxana has 6+ years of experience of in business-to-business operational and strategic marketing, market research, product development, competition monitoring, pre-sales support and communication. Roxana is currently working as international marketing manager in the headquarters of a major software provider in Central Eastern Europe, with multi-country operations. Previously, she has worked in marketing positions in the credit risk management & business information services industries. Roxana Toma received her BSc in Journalism & Communication in 2004 from the University of Bucharest, Romania. After that, she has completed the Stage One of the MBA program from the Open University Business School in UK. She blogs about her experience & readings in international marketing on www.zoominglocal.com.
Contact Roxana Toma via email at: rx.ionescu[at]gmail.com and connect on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/rxtoma