The effects of brands and country of origin on consumers' buying intention in Saudi Arabia

Al-Rajhi, Khalid Sulaiman (2008) The effects of brands and country of origin on consumers' buying intention in Saudi Arabia. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The Country of Origin (COO) and branded product are concepts that have been studied widely in social science. This is manifested in the movement and progress of studies related to these concepts from simple to sophisticated and in-depth ones. However, previous studies still have many limitations and have recommended further research in this field. Among these limitations is the restricted geographical spread of study areas, as most of the previous COO studies have been conducted in the United States, Canada, and other developed countries. Another gap in the extant COO literature is the scarcity of food product studies, as most of the COO studies have concerned durable goods such as cars, T.V. sets, appliances, etc.
The food product studies found are rarely related to the effect of COO on buying intention or consumer perception; hence, a study of the effect of COO and branded product on food products is an addition to the literature.
Moreover, previous COO research suffers from an inadequate assessment of the reliability and validity of the widely used measurement scales. Adapted scales for COO, branded product and brand parity that fit the culture and the research product have been developed specifically for this research. These scales are reasonably valid and reliable. A process for scale adaptation has been developed using a qualitative approach; this process can be followed in any similar studies in future.
An attempt is made to address these limitations in this study, which examines how Saudis, as Muslim consumers, use the Country of Origin (COO) and branded product cues in their buying intention decisions and how their socioeconomic characteristics, ethnocentrism and perceptions about brand parity affect their perception of COO and branded product. Based on a thorough literature review, an analytical model that depicts the different relationships between the research constructs and the research hypotheses has been developed.
A complementary qualitative and quantitive approach has been used in this research, and the outcome of combining the two methods has strengthened the reliability of the research findings. The process of combining the two methods has been proven to be a prudent decision, as the use of only one of these methods may have resulted in misleading findings.
A qualitative approach, including an exploratory study and focus groups, has been used to gain an in-depth understanding of the different dimensions of the theoretical concepts of the research and to discover which of the variables can conceptualize each of them in the Saudi setting. This process has assisted in adapting the construct scales that were developed in a different setting, as using the scales in the Saudi culture without adaptation was inappropriate. Therefore, the qualitative approach was a prerequisite for this research.
A quantitative approach (survey) has been used as the research approach after developing appropriate scales for each construct and putting them together in a well-designed questionnaire. The instrument was pre-tested and found to be appropriate. The data was collected in Saudi Arabia from two purposive quota sub-samples of 400 women in each sub-sample; the respondents were women who regularly buy the research product (chicken).
A wide range of statistical analysis techniques was used. These techniques include descriptive statistics, correlation, regression and ANOVA.
Regarding the overall objective of this study to explore the effects of Saudi consumers’ perception about country of origin and branded product on their buying intention, the study results reveal that the political, cultural, and religious dimensions have a significant effect on consumers’ buying intention for chicken from most of the countries under consideration, whereas the economic and technological dimensions play a very minor role in influencing consumers’ chicken buying intention. This is exactly opposite to the situation with durable goods, such as automobiles, where the technological and economical dimensions play an important role in influencing consumers’ buying intention. These findings prove the importance of the effect of the product category, as different product categories will have different effects on how consumers perceive the COO. This study mainly focues on consumers’ perceptions towards whole chicken , as it is normal form of purchase in the Saudi market.
Furthermore, the study results show that the respondents’ perception about all the dimensions of the branded product have no effect on their buying intention of those brands in the case of seven out of the eight countries under consideration. The weak effect of the different dimensions of the branded product concept on the consumers’ buying intention of chicken branded product might be attributed to the minor emphasis on and limited use of the branded product as information cue in the consumers’ buying decision in the case of the chicken as a fast-moving food product. The product category again proves its importance in this research; the weak effect of brands on the buying intention of chicken as the research product shows that the brand effect may be high or low depending on the product category.
It has been found that brand parity does not exist in the case of branded chicken and is not significally correlated with branded product construct, which may explain the scarcity of such studies in the literature.
Ethnocentrism was proven to have an effect on the Saudi female consumers' buying intention, which means that Saudi women may buy a local product even if they perceive that an imported product is of better quality. In addition, it has been proven that various demographic factors may explain the differences in consumer perception of COO.
Thus, the conclusion is reached that the importance of each of the COO dimensions and the branded product as an information cue in influencing buying decision depends on the type of product.
The research has conceptualisation and methodological contributions that reflect the importance of this study. The conceptualisation contributions are, firstly, the COO conceptualisation, which has been adapted to include the cultural and religious dimensions in order to be appropriate to the study area (Saudi Arabia) and the research product and, secondly, the branded product, which has been conceptualised to include the brand as a person and the brand as a product. The third contribution is that the research has studied the joint effect of COO and brand simultaneously. The final contribution is the conceptualisation of brand parity, which has been dealt with in this study in a different manner than in previous studies.
The methodological contributions are: a) the use of the focus group data collection technique in a conservative society, in this case Saudi Arabia, and b) the process of adapting the scales for this study, which represents a significant contribution that may be useful to other researchers.
The study’s main policy and empirical implication is the recognition of the differing effects of COO of different countries for Saudi consumers, and the differing effects of COO dimensions. This proves the importance of studying different countries and different products in order to find the real effect of the COO and its implication for policy makers' decisions.
Nevertheless, the study has certain limitations. Among these is the fact that the scales used for COO have relatively low reliability and the conceptualisation of COO requires improvement. The scarcity of food product studies in Saudi Arabia restricted the arguments that could be used to compare and support the study findings. The limited study of the religious effect is another limitation. The difficulty the researcher experienced in gaining access to the executives during the preliminary exploratory study also placed certain limitations on the results. The final limitation was related to the difficulty of conducting the focus group in such a conservative country, particularly when the participants were women, as was the case in this research.
Suggestions are made for further studies that could enrich the literature in this area. These are, firstly, that the differential relevance and importance of the different dimensions of the COO and branded product constructs for different products and different consumers’ require further examination. Secondly, methodologically, more comprehensive analytical models could be used and, lastly, a full re-modelling of the research model utilised in this study is suggested.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Country of Origin, Branded product, Buying Intention, Saudi Arabia
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Supervisor's Name: Jones, Prof. Marian
Date of Award: 2008
Depositing User: Dr. Khalid Alrajhi
Unique ID: glathesis:2008-597
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:20

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