Internet trends: marketing research & predictions

US students hold misbelieves concerning brands origin country: online survey

May 26th, 2007 by

College students are known to be heavily influenced by brands, but a recent online survey conducted by Andersonanalytics showed that they know only little where their favorite brands originate.

  • 53% percent of students thought Finnish cell phone company Nokia to be Japanese
  • 58% thought Korean electronics company Samsung was Japanese.
  • 48.5% mistakenly thought Adidas clothing came from the United States, not Germany.

“For the most part, this next generation of educated American consumers either have no clue where the brands they use come from or simply assume everything comes from the United States, Japan or Germany,” said Tom H. C. Anderson, Managing Partner, Anderson Analytics (see table 1).

In this study, brands originates from the Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, Korea, Sweden and the UK – were the most misidentified brands (see table 2). When respondents were asked to rate countries by pereceived quality (table 3)- Japan, US and Germany received the highest score (they do know something about quality..)

Observing the brands by categories (see table 4) reveals that cell phones were the top category origin was misidentified. Although Nokia has dominated the cell phone market, just 4.4% of students knew that Nokia was made in Finland; and just 8.9% knew LG cell phones came from Korea. It turns out that even strong American brands like Motorola are falsely believed to be Japanese (42% of students surveyed thought Motorola was Japanese compared to 38% who said it was American).

While students’ ignorance hurts some marketers, according to Anderson, for cell phone manufacturers ignorance truly is bliss. “We found for cell phones, country of origin didn’t seem to affect students’ perception of the brand, since Motorola was ranked equally well whether students thought it was from America or Japan,” said Anderson. “This has allowed Korean brands, like LG and Samsung, to compete on a par with companies like Nokia and Motorola.”
Country of origin does play an important part in making luxury goods and automobiles more exclusive and exotic: French Hermes scored higher with students who correctly identified it as a French rather than a UK brand with 23% more giving it high ratings. Similarly, fewer students (a 13.3% difference) gave Japanese Lexus top ratings when they mistakenly thought it was a US-made car. Even brands like IKEA which compete on cost may benefit from their ties to an exotic country of origin, said Anderson. In IKEA’s case, among the 31.2% of respondents who knew IKEA was a Swedish brand, the brand rating was 12% percent higher than among the 23.6% of respondents who though IKEA was a US brand.

A representative sample of 1,000 US college students at over 375 US universities and colleges were interviewed. In addition to matching brands with their home countries, students were asked which countries were best at producing certain products, as well as producing quality products overall. Students were also asked to rate the quality of individual brands. The total sample size represents a confidence interval of +/-3.1% at the 95% confidence level. The survey was fielded online in late 2006.


table 1: misidentified brands


table 2: misidentified countries


table 3: most preferred origin by country


table 4: most prefered origin by category

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2 Responses

  1. Rumors, News, Truemors Says:

    […] of educated American consumers have no clue where the brands they use come from no score link spread Business 1 minute ago byresearchio […]

  2. Romuald Says:

    This looks to me like standard branding.. except that it is at the country level.

    Many consumers misidentify products and attach the product to a more “famous” brand (e.g. you remember a “hamburger” and you associate it to McDonald’s instead of a local restaurant).
    This seems to say that Finland has not a strong brand while Japanese do.

    Interesting trend!

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