Global versus local brand preference formation in food products
"Brands have come to play a major role in consumer decision-making, and in this, the brand identity, which includes its perceived global and local nature, can play a very significant role. But there is inconsistent evidence in the literature about how consumers’ preferences for global and local brands are formed. The evidence mostly talks about non-food product categories, and the explanations for global brand preference, such as perceived higher quality, prestige, and social status signalling and global consumer culture associations, are well established and accepted, but the explanations for local brand preference are still contested. Food products with global and local brands provide a good background to understand global versus local brand preference formation since food often has global and local origin associations. This thesis examines how food product category characteristics, consumer dispositions of global-local identity, and consumer ethnocentrism may influence preference for a global or a local food brand. It also studies how the product category characteristics, global-local identity, and consumer ethnocentrism influence the relationship between Perceived Brand Globalness (PBG) or Perceived Brand Localness (PBL) in the global versus local brand preference in the case of food brands. It uses schema theory (Fiske, 2014; Fiske & Taylor, 1991) to explain how the properties of a food product category – utilitarian, hedonic and symbolic benefits- influence preference for global versus local brands. The information about product category characteristics stored in the brand and product category schema in a consumer’s mind is associated with the consumer’s global/local brand preference. This work also uses the social identity theory (Tajfel et al., 1979) to explain how consumer dispositions of global-local identity and consumer ethnocentrism are associated with global and local brand preferences for food brands. A consumer survey was conducted in Gujarat and Maharashtra with a sample size of 596. The survey used the constructs’ well-established measures to elicit opinions and attitudes about global versus local food brand preferences. This was followed by statistical and regression analysis. The findings indicate that if product category characteristics are predominantly functional and hedonic, they are not associated with global brand preference. However, if the product category provided the symbolic benefit of global food consumption, then global brands were preferred. Local brands are not preferred when the product category characteristic provides a local-symbolic benefit, which may be explained by the fact that most respondents did not attach localness symbolism as the dominant benefit they derive from the local food product categories presented to them and the dominance of regional brands, and unbranded packaged products in the local symbolic food product categories. Consumers with high global identity preferred global food brands in functional and hedonic product categories. There was a weak statistically significant association between consumers’ high global identity and global brand preference in the case of global-symbolic food product categories. Consumers with high local identity preferred local brands for all product category characteristics - functional, hedonic, and local-symbolic. Ethnocentric consumers, too, preferred local brands for hedonic and local-symbolic product categories. However, in the case of functional product categories, weak statistical significance was associated between consumer ethnocentrism and local brand preference. The association of perceived brand globalness with global brand preference and local brand preference was confirmed in the case of functional and local-symbolic product categories, respectively, but not in the hedonic and global-symbolic product categories for Indian food brands. The product category characteristics of being functional, hedonic, global-symbolic, and local-symbolic had no moderating influence on how PBG and PBL influence global brand and local brand preference. The high global identity of consumers positively moderated the relationship of PBG with global brand preference in the case of functional and hedonic product categories but not for global-symbolic product categories. Furthermore, consumers' high local identity and ethnocentric beliefs did not moderate the influence of PBL on local brand preference. The research shows that marketing and brand managers may need to be cognizant when positioning brands in global or local consumer culture, as though matching the product category characteristics with the positioning is necessary but not sufficient to ensure consumer preference. This inference was made since the boundary condition of product category characteristics is associated with global brand preference only in the case of global-symbolic product categories. Consumer dispositions of global-local identity and consumer ethnocentrism are helpful for consumer segmentation to match brand positioned in global or local consumer culture, as consumers with high global identity beliefs prefer global brands and those with high local identity beliefs and ethnocentric beliefs prefer local brands. Brand managers may need to pay more attention to the perception of whether a brand is global or local to increase consumers’ preference for them. This is because it was found that product category characteristics and consumer dispositions -global-local identity and consumer ethnocentrism had only contingent association with global and local brand preference. This study contributes to the literature by providing unique insights into consumer preference formation for global and local food brands through an in-depth study in the emerging market of India."
- Thesis and Dissertations