Country Authenticity: An analysis of country authenticity amongst Danish consumers with preexisting knowledge of Spain

Mette Haupt Hansen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to understand how consumer affinity and country authenticity are connected, and how they each affect a consumer’s willingness to buy from a foreign country. An examination was conducted of the cause-effect relationship between each of the variables, to determine how and to what extent a consumer may be affected by affinity towards a foreign country, and how this affinity is brought into a country authentic context. The motivation for examining this subject is the current lack of theories in consumer behavior that explore how a consumer evaluates the country authenticity of a foreign business. Building upon existing theory of consumer affinity, indexicality and iconicity, a new conceptual framework was developed, into which the country authenticity variable was introduced and defined. Primary data was collected with an online questionnaire, which was launched using Facebook as the distributor. The survey targeted consumers in the greater Copenhagen area, who had preexisting knowledge of and experience with Spain and Spanish restaurants. The analysis showed positive cause-effect connections between consumer affinity, country authenticity and willingness to buy. A consumer’s memories and past experiences affect its affinity towards a foreign country, which in turn affects the consumer perception of country authenticity in a foreign product, brand or service. There exists no significant effect of gender, age or income in the determination of country authenticity levels. Results of the analysis showed significant theoretical and managerial implications, for both consumer affinity and country authenticity. In a theoretical context, the affinity dimensions used in previous literature, attachment and sympathy, proved not to be valued amongst Danish consumers towards Spain. Instead, dimensions such as fascinated and inspired showed to be highest elements of affect. Additionally, inconsistencies in the consumer responses suggest that it may be necessary to distinguish between perceived and actual country authenticity, when attempting to determine its impact and influence on a consumer’s willingness to buy. In a managerial context, the case study illustrates the importance for a business to remember its cultural origin and country brand, if selling a product, brand or service with country-specific characteristics or attachments. Additionally, the analysis shows that a business needs to be aware of the possible differences between what a consumer perceives as being country authentic, and the actual authentic characteristics of the business product, brand or service.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2012
Number of pages109