Business historians have for long described the marketing value of country-of-origin (COO), often foregrounding the advantages of goods from a particular region. We argue that to fully understand COO, we also need to explore the impact of market competition on its evolution. This study compares two examples: the market category of Italian biscotti and the use of Made in Germany in the cutlery export business with India (1870–1920). In both, the perceptions of COO evolved as an advantage derived from competitive market dynamics, showing different ways of how competition mattered for COO. While Italian biscotti emerged out of imitation of British first movers, the value of cutlery Made in Germany was realised through a process of distinction from British competitors. Hence, we criticise approaches that isolate COO from its competitive environment or naturalise its advantages as timeless and absolute. Instead, we suggest a research agenda that pays attention to the way COO narratives incorporate comparative perspectives and commercial rivalry.
- Country of origin
- Competitive dynamics