What Explains Consumers’ Global Brand Preferences?

by | Jan 4, 2023


The globalization of marketplaces has sparked strong academic interest in the factors that explain why consumers’ may prefer global brands over local brands. As a result, researchers have identified an array of consumer dispositions and brand characteristics that may play a role in the formation of consumers’ global brand preferences. On the one hand, scholars have examined the roles of consumer dispositions like cosmopolitanism, ethnocentrism, global/local identity, and globalization attitude. On the other hand, they have explored the role of perceived brand globalness, which refers to the extent to which consumers believe that a brand is marketed in multiple countries and is recognized as global in these countries.

However, empirical findings regarding the effects of these alleged antecedents of global brand perference are mixed and appear to replicate with difficulty. In this research, we argue that this situation might be due to the poor understanding of the underlying theoretical mechanisms. Currently, researchers and practitioners lack necessary guidance on how to best specify models that reflect global brand-related phenomena and how to employ consumer dispositions for segmentation, targeting, and positioning purposes.

“If the true relationship between perceived brand globalness and consumer dispositions is not captured in the chosen model specification, the theoretical utility and managerial relevance of the empirical results would inevitably be questionable.”

To address this problem, we revisit the relationships between prominent consumer dispositions and perceived brand globalness as determinants of consumer responses to global brands. It represents the first explicit attempt to shed light on the interplay between consumer dispositions and brand globalness perceptions as drivers of brand preference in a generalizable manner.

Drawing on selective perception and social identity theories, we consider alternative models that are grounded in different theories. These models reflect three possible mechanisms through which key consumer dispositions relate to brand globalness and impact important brand-related outcomes. We empirically test these rival model specifications by estimating a flexible model that simultaneously accounts for moderating, mediating, conditional and direct effects.

Results from multiple conditional process analyses and a single-paper meta-analysis raise concerns regarding the (potentially overstated) utility of consumer dispositions for explaining consumer responses to global brands. Although consumer dispositions with outgroup orientations tend to capture consumer responses to global brands better than those with in-group orientations, our results reveal a need for further conceptual contemplation of their function in international consumer research and managerial practice. Overall, our results provide significantly more support for the direct predictor model than for the mediation and moderation specifications.

“Only one out of ten model estimations support a moderation specification despite it being one of the most intuitively appealing and thus empirically popular approaches for modeling the effects of consumer dispositions.”

Our findings suggest that brand managers should not rely exclusively on consumer segments characterized by particularly pronounced consumer dispositions. Both global and local brands can be competitive without having to focus only on market microsegments, such as cosmopolitans or globalization enthusiasts.

Full reference: Diamantopoulos, Adamantios, Vasileios Davvetas, Fabian Bartsch, Timo Mandler, Maja Arslanagic-Kalajdzic, and Martin Eisend (2019), “On the Interplay Between Consumer Dispositions and Perceived Brand Globalness: Alternative Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Assessment,” Journal of International Marketing, 27 (4), 39–57. https://doi.org/10.1177/1069031X19865527

Cite for: Global brands, perceived brand globalness, consumer dispositions, consumer ethnocentrism, consumer cosmopolitanism, global identity, local identity, globalization attitude, competing theories, PROCESS, rival models (Figure 1), single-paper meta-analysis

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