Factors Affecting Consumer Preferences in Purchasing International Brand Instead of Local Brands

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University of Richmond
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With the effects of globalization increasing by the day, it's now more evident than it was decades ago that customers, especially those in developing countries appreciate product brands from countries considered developed more than the products that are produced locally in their home countries. Imports into developing countries and exports from developed countries are ever increasing as customers stiffen the race geared towards owning and consuming products that have an international acceptance standard with a presence in almost all nations in the world (Batra, 2014). The preferences customers have for international brands as opposed to local brands stems up from a number of factors that include but are not limited to quality, social status, price, country of origin, consumer ethnocentrism, and friends and family (Ismail, 2012).

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The quality of a product plays a paramount role in determining where a buyer sources their products from. Products that are internationally recognized are perceived by potential buyers to be of a higher quality compared to those that are produced in their countries. Products whose brands are recognized and accepted internationally such as Brioni suits made in Italy are thought to be of better quality. The global availability of the Brioni brand makes customers attribute a superior quality to it as the quality acts as a prerequisite for its global acceptance, unlike the local brands (Ahmed, 2004). Most people think of local brands as inferior in terms of their quality due to the availability of cheap, low-quality raw materials (Samiee, 1994).

Consumers also prefer international brands due to the prestige and social class that is normally associated with most of the global brands. The scarcity and prices that are relatively higher than those of brands found locally create a sense of prestige for those products that have a global recognition and acceptance (Batra, 2014). Customers, therefore, use international brands to improve their self-image as they believe that the brands make them appear sophisticated, classy, and modern. Local brands, on the other hand, are considered to be substandard and of a relatively lower quality compared to the international brands. They are cheaper which makes most of the people who mind their self-image shun them since in most cases cheap products are usually associated with lower quality (Ismail, 2012).

The prices of both international and local brands and the price differences between the two act as one of the main factors that influence the consumer preferences for international brands as opposed to the locally available ones. In some instances, global brands have been found to be cheaper compared to local brands. A good number of global brands enjoy discounted prices due to low production costs from the countries that they are produced from (Ismail, 2012). Many people thus prefer these brands since with less one can be able to get more of the international brands as compared to the local ones whose prices they consider to be a bit exorbitant. For instance, most of the electronic appliances from other countries whose brands are recognized internationally are easily affordable unlike those that are manufactured or assembled locally which are more expensive due to unavailability of manufacturing materials in these countries (Samiee, 1994).

The country of origin effect (COE) and its influence on the choices that consumers make concerning purchase of goods and services has long been a subject of study in a bid to determine how the country of origin of a product influences the attitudes that consumers harbor towards that product. The consumers' and businessmen's choices of which country to source products from largely depends on attributes such as price and quality of the products from the preferred countries. Some countries such as Germany are known to be manufacturers of high-end cars such as Mercedes Benz and BMWs. An individual looking to buy such cars would thus have Germany as their first option as Germany is considered the source country to go for whenever one intends to purchase such brands. When considering purchasing a Toyota, then Japan would be the to-go-for country as opposed to getting used cars sourced locally (Ahmed, 2004).

Consumer ethnocentrism refers to strong belief in products from one's country of origin either due to certain cultural beliefs or as a result of being overly patriotic to one's country (Ahmed, 2004). Consumer ethnocentrism mostly applies to people who are nationals of a particular country but living in another country as foreigners. Though in foreign countries, ethnocentric individuals tend to import products from their native countries and cannot use products from their host countries. Consumer ethnocentrism, therefore, influences the choices that consumers make as far as international and local brands are concerned (Ismail, 2012).

The influence of consumer choices on the products that they purchase either internationally or locally has since transformed the world into a global village as consumers are more than determined to ensure that they get what they desire no matter how far it may be. It's now more common to see people importing cars and other stuff in order to satisfy their desire for those products either for quality, price or social status and prestige reasons (Batra, 2014).


Ahmed, Z.U., Johnson, J.P., Yang, X., Kheng Fatt, C., Sack Teng, H. and Chee Boon, L., 2004. Does country of origin matter for low-involvement products?. International Marketing Review, 21(1), pp.102-120.

Batra, R., Ramaswamy, V., Alden, D.L., Steenkamp, J.B.E. and Ramachander, S., 2014. Effects of brand local and non-local origin on consumer attitudes in developing countries. Journal of consumer psychology, 9, pp.83-95.

Ismail, Z., Masood, S. and Tawab, Z.M., 2012. Factors affecting consumer preference of international brands over local brands. In 2nd International Conference on Social Science and Humanity IPEDR (Vol. 31).

Samiee, S., 1994. Customer evaluation of products in a global market. Journal of International Business Studies, 25(3), pp.579-604.

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