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The preference gap: Ghanaian consumers' attitudes toward local and imported products

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The preference gap: Ghanaian consumers' attitudes toward local and imported products

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This study was undertaken to examine empirically consumer attitudes towards local and imported products in a developing country market. A survey was conducted to elicit responses from a cross section of the Ghanaian community. The country of origin image in this study was measured following the Roth and Romeo approach. The results of this study suggest that country of origin is more important than price and other product attributes, the Ghanaian consumer holds the ' Made in Ghana' label in low regard relative to foreign labels, whilst superior quality and consumer taste are the 2 most important reasons for the Ghanaian consumers' preference for foreign products. Limitations of the study are presented and suggestions for future research on country of origin effect and the consumer in developing countries are also discussed.
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African Journal of Business Management Vol. 3 (8), pp. 350-357, August, 2009
Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJBM
ISSN 1993-8233 © 2009 Academic Journals
Full Length Research Paper
The preference gap: Ghanaian consumers’ attitudes
toward local and imported products
Robert A. Opoku1* and Patrick A. K. Akorli2
1Department of Management and Marketing, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, P. O. Box 5074, Dhahran
31261, Saudi Arabia.
2Finance Manager of Ghana Oil Company Ltd, P. O. Box GP 3183, Accra, Ghana.
Accepted 7 July, 2009
This study was undertaken to examine empirically consumer attitudes towards local and imported
products in a developing country market. A survey was conducted to elicit responses from a cross
section of the Ghanaian community. The country of origin image in this study was measured following
the Roth and Romeo approach. The results of this study suggest that country of origin is more
important than price and other product attributes, the Ghanaian consumer holds the 'Made in Ghana'
label in low regard relative to foreign labels, whilst superior quality and consumer taste are the 2 most
important reasons for the Ghanaian consumers’ preference for foreign products. Limitations of the
study are presented and suggestions for future research on country of origin effect and the consumer
in developing countries are also discussed.
Keywords: Country of origin, developing countries, consumer attitudes, Ghana.
INTRODUCTION
Increased travel and education as well as improvements
in communications such as the global-spanning television
networks and the internet have also contributed to a
convergence of tastes and preferences in a number of
product categories around the world. This has motivated
consumers in developing countries to demand the same
quality of goods available to their counterparts in deve-
loped countries (Saffu and Walker, 2006). With this
increased globalization, it has become increasingly im-
portant to understand how consumers from different
countries evaluate products of different origin.
Obviously, consumer perception toward countries,
cultures and their products keeps on changing therefore
the issue is still interesting and important to academics
and practitioners in the fields of international marketing
and consumer behaviour (Josiassen and Harzing, 2008).
In addition, most studies have been conducted in large
industrialized countries where a range of domestic alter-
natives or brands are available. The generalizability of
findings to small developing countries, where there are
no domestic brands or products in many product catego-
*Corresponding author. E-mail: opoku@kfupm.edu.sa. Tel.:
+966 3 860 7519, Fax: +966 3 860 2544.
ries, is somewhat questionable. Yet, there are relatively
few studies that have systematically investigated this
phenomenon in developing countries in sub-saharan
Africa and very little is known about consumer behaviour
in this part of the world.
To help address this research gap, this study is under-
taken to examine empirically consumer attitudes towards
local and imported products in the Ghanaian market. As
one of the only 7 emerging sub-saharan economies with
a liberalised economy (Appiah-Adu and Blankson, 1998),
Ghana was chosen as the context for this study because
of the possible disproportionate trade imbalances that
may result from the influx of foreign goods. Besides,
Ghanaians came into contact with westerners and their
products as a far back as 1471 and it would also be
interesting to know how such interaction might have
influence their product choice.
The purposes of this study are in three fold. First, the
study seeks to examine how product's country of origin
image affects consumer choice in a small country such
as Ghana. Second, we attempt to look at consumers’
perception of the 'Made in Ghana' label. Third, the study
further seeks to examine the 'country image' in the
Ghanaian consumer preference for products. In order to
achieve the above purposes, the key research questions
that guided this study are:
i) What is the relative importance of product attributes to
the Ghanaian consumer?
ii) What are product preferences for the Ghanaian
consumer in terms of country of origin?
iii) How does the country of origin or image' impact on
Ghanaian consumer's likelihood to purchase a product?
Specifically, a study such as this will have implications for
domestic manufacturers, foreign manufacturers, mar-
keters, exporters and other channel intermediaries doing
or wishing to do business in developing countries. On the
general level, such an investigation has implications for
developing country governments and policy makers who
are trying to establish domestic manufacturing compe-
tency in the face of relentless competition from esta-
blished foreign brands, and for academics interested in
understanding consumer behaviour in developing econo-
mies. The study also contributes to the growing body of
literature related to “country-of-origin” influence.
Given those purposes enumerated above, the remain-
der of this paper is structured as follows; first, review of
previous research is conducted on preference for do-
mestic products in some developed, developing and Afri-
can countries. Second, the methodology employed in this
study is explained. Third, the data collected is analysed.
Fourth, the findings of the study are presented and the
implications of the findings are also discussed. Lastly,
conclusions are drawn and limitations with regard to the
study and implications for future research within the
scope of this field are also dealt with.
LITERATURE REVIEW
General overview of country of origin studies
It has been established that consumers differentiate pro-
ducts from different origins, a phenomenon that has
become known by both marketing academics and practi-
tioners as the country-of-origin (COO) effect (Agrawal
and Kamakura, 1999; Verlegh and Steenkamp, 1999;
Bhaskaran and Sukumaran, 2007). As one of the most
extensively researched topics in international marketing
and consumer behaviour, a lot of studies have been
conducted to ascertain whether country of origin affects
product evaluations in many countries (see meta-analysis
of some of such studies in Verlegh and Steenkamp,
1999; Bhaskaran and Sukumaran, 2007). However, the
majority of these studies have focused on consumers in
developed countries. These studies show that consumers
in those countries tend to prefer products from developed
countries to those from less developed countries (Wang
and Lamb, 1983; Jaffe and Martinez, 1995). In particular,
they tend to prefer products from their own countries first
Canadian, German and Dutch respondents preferred TV
sets or car radios made in their own country first and
foremost, followed by brands made in other developed
countries and lastly those made in South Korea and
Mexico. Invariably, consumers tend to prefer domestic
Opoku and Akorh 351
products in countries where there is strong patriotism,
national pride, or consumer ethnocentrism (Heslop and
Papadopoulos, 1993).
Country of origin studies and developing countries
In economically underdeveloped countries, preference for
domestic products tends to be weaker (Cordell, 1992).
For instance, consumers in the former socialist countries
of eastern and central Europe prefer western to domestic
products (Ettenson, 1993; Papadopoulos et al., 1990).
Ettenson (1993) established that price was relatively less
important than country of origin in Russian, Polish and
Hungarian consumer purchase intentions for TV sets.
Klenosky, Benet and Chadraba (1996) reported that
Czech consumers preferred German cars and TV sets,
but not polish ones, to those made in the Czech Repu-
blic. Jaffe and Martinez (1995) found that Mexicans have
a poor perception of domestic goods, rating American
and Thailand household electronic products above
Mexican-made brands. Upper-income earners in the
same country have been identified to prefer foreign
products (Almonte et al., 1995; Bailey and Gutierrez De
Pineres, 1997). Jordan (1996) reported that there is a
great demand for Western consumer goods among
Indian consumers. In China, manufacturers pass off local
products as Western in a practice referred to as 'mao-
yang' (Gilley, 1996). Even the current rapid economic
growth has done little to change this western preference
of Chinese people (Zhou and Hui, 2003). Kaynak,
Kucukemiroglu and Hyder (2000) found that Bangladeshi
consumers overwhelmingly preferred western made
products, though there were differences in their percep-
tions across product classes as well as degree of suita-
bility of sourcing countries. Khan and Bamber (2007) also
found out that the elite segment of Pakistanis perceive
COO image as one of the distinct attributes when making
a purchasing decision. A study has also reported that
Mexicans have a strong taste for foreign products.
Country of origin studies and Africa
In Africa, attempts have been made to examine this
concept of country of origin effect in various spheres. For
instance, in a study conducted in Nigeria by Agbonifoh
and Elimimian (1999) and Okechuku and Onyemah
(1999), the results showed that products from the techno-
logically more advanced countries were viewed more
positively by nationals of developing countries, than those
from the technologically less advanced countries.
Ferguson et al. (2008) have studied the country-of-origin
effects in service evaluation in 5 West African countries.
They found that situational personal characteristics, such
as motivation and ability to process information, may
influence use of country-of-origin attributes in evaluating
a service. Besides, individual characteristics, such as eth-
nocentrism and culture orientation, may influence COO
352 Afr. J. Bus. Manage.
preference in service evaluation. Mitgwe and Chikweche
(2008) and Saffu and Walker (2006) have also examined
the impact of country-of -origin effects and consumer
attitudes towards buy local campaign initiatives. Basi-
cally, the attitudes of consumers in these studies to the
buy locally-made campaigns can be characterized as
protectionist, nationalistic, and self-interest. In assessing
the hiring preferences among organisations in one deve-
loping country, Carr et al. (2001) find that East Africans
but not western expatriates tend to be less preferred than
fellow Tanzanians. The preceding empirical evidence,
though not exhaustive, suggests that consumers in deve-
loping economies view products from developed
countries more favourably than products from their own
country. Against this backdrop, this study was therefore
designed to investigate the broad issues of the effects of
country of origin image on consumers’ perceptions of
quality and of price and taste from the point of view of
consumers in sub-Saharan African country.
To establish a theoretical foundation for a study like
this, a number of researchers have proposed measures
or devised scales for measuring the country of origin
image construct (Parameswaran and Pisharodi, 1994;
Roth and Romeo, 1992; Nebenzahl, Jaffe and Lampert,
1997). Parameswaran and Pisharodi (1994) and Janda
and Rao (1997) proposed multi-dimensional measures of
country of origin image while Roth and Romeo developed
a unidimensional measure based on the innovativeness,
design, prestige and workmanship of a country's pro-
ducts. In this study, country of origin image was mea-
sured following the Roth and Romeo approach, except
that 'innovativeness' and 'design' were replaced with
'technological advancement' and 'quality', terms that have
also been used in other studies (Cattin, Jolibert and
Lohnes 1982; Han and Terpstra, 1988). This is because
'innovativeness' and ‘technological advancement' are
comparable, but 'design' and quality' are not. The
country-of-origin image is also defined in this study as
how a product designed, manufactured, or branded in a
developed country is perceived in a developing country.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This study is based on empirical research conducted with the aid of
structured questionnaire. The survey elicited responses from a
cross section of Ghanaians. The products selected for the study
were rice, clothing and textile. These product categories were se-
lected because, at Ghana's current level of economic development,
they are at the top of every Ghanaian worker's budget list. More
importantly, the decline in the domestic industry in these 2 catego-
ries of product categories is typical of what has happened to
several other consumer goods categories since the re-opening of
the Ghanaian market in the 1980s (Saffu and Walker, 2006). To
study the importance of country of origin in consumer choice and
the ranking of the 'Made in Ghana' label relative to selected foreign
labels, conjoint analysis was used to develop product profiles which
respondents evaluated in a survey.
As the most popular multi-attribute choice model in marketing
(Wittink and Cattin, 1989) and a matured technique (Louviere,
1994), conjoint analysis is not new in country of origin studies
(Ettenson, Wagner and Gaeth, 1988; Akaah and Yaprak, 1993;
Okechuku and Onyemah, 1999). Conjoint analysis assumes that
consumer purchase decisions are not made on a single factor but
are based on several factors, or attributes, which are “considered
conjointly” (AMA, 2000). As we seek to measure how consumers'
trade-off among product attributes in making purchase decisions
(Oppewal and Vriens, 2000), conjoint analysis is an appropriate re-
search technique for this study. In this study, our analysis is based
on the premise that survey respondents evaluate the value or utility
of the selected products by combining the separate amounts of utili-
ty provided by each attribute-quality, taste and price. This analysis
is realistic for such a study because of its close approximation to
the consumer decision process (Walley, Parsons and Bland, 2000).
Data collection procedure
This research was conducted at selected areas in Accra (the capital
and largest city in Ghana). It is believed that a considerable number
of individuals residing in Accra comprise the 'upper class' of Gha-
naian society. Rural people were not included in the study as their
lifestyles and low incomes put them outside the population that
could reasonably expect to afford rice or clothing and textile. The
study employed convenience and systematic random sampling ap-
proaches to select the respondents. These methods were deemed
appropriate as the authors did not have accurate statistics on the
populations and subsequent sample. Questionnaires were deve-
loped and administered to 100 respondents within a period of 2
months. Students of a senior marketing research class were further
trained as research assistants to self-administer the questionnaires
in the local language. The data collection sites were selected
markets around Adenta, Madina, Atomic Junction areas, and some
selected shops at Circle (the heart of Accra). These areas con-
stitute part of the major business district of Accra. The participants
were buyers found to be patronising these common market areas at
the time. Regarding Adenta, Madina and Circle areas, the resear-
chers purposively selected 10 shops who were dealing in products
relevant to the study (that is rice and clothing). This was to enable
the researcher access all the respondent at the time of the data
collection exercise. To make the sample selection approximate pro-
bability sampling, every 3rd entrant to the open market/shopping
complex was approached and inquire if he/she ever used made in
Ghana goods, if he/she has, a questionnaire is administered on
him/her immediately; if he/she is not a user, the researchers apolo-
gised for the delay and waited for the next entrant. Thus the resear-
chers interviewed every 3rd consumer that entered the market on
the days of the interview, with the understanding that they randomly
enter the market and that the rate of entry is normally distributed.
For the fashion shop subjects, the researcher visited any ten shops
within the selected areas and interviewed at least one subject (a
buyer or potential buyer) found around. At the Atomic Junction,
however, 10 clusters were conveniently chosen and questionnaires
administered to the buyers or any potential buyer of any three
shops that are at least 10 shops apart in terms of distance. The
information collected from this sample augmented the earlier ones.
The products - rice, clothing and textile were chosen because of
their widespread availability, use and production in Ghana. Also,
they are products that have many substitutes (both local and
foreign) and therefore can easily be evaluated or compared by an
average Ghanaian. Profile for each product was based on five attri-
butes. For rice the attributes were the brand name (4 levels), coun-
try of origin (4 levels), retail price (3 levels), quality (2 levels) and
taste (2 levels). For clothing and textile they were the brand name
(4 levels), country of origin (4 levels), retail price (3 levels), picture
quality (2 levels) and quality (2 levels). The brands used for the rice
profiles were local and imported rice. They are very common in Ghana.
The brands selected for clothing and textiles were imported and local
products. The price levels used in each profile were selected so as to
Opoku and Akorh 353
Table 1. The relative importance of attributes to the Ghanaian consumer.
Product category
Attribute Relative importance Contrasts
Brand name (B) 0.276
Country-of Origin(C) 0.329
Price (P) 0.163
Quality (Q) 0.118
Rice
Taste (T) 0.114
C=B>P>T>Q
Brand name (B) 0.324
Country-of Origin(C) 0.328
Price (P) 0.139
Quality (Q) 0.110
Clothing and Textile
Taste (T) 0.099
C=B>P>T>Q
represent the prevailing category price range in the country at the time
of data collection. Quality and taste data were collected in the form of
ratings on a 0 (very bad) to 10 (very good) scale. The main effects or-
thogonal design comprising of 16 profiles for each product category
was generated from the 4 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 2 full factorial using the
orthogonal design program in SPSS for windows (Version 15.1).
Respondents were required to rank the 16 options according to
their preference.
The countries-of-origin used for the rice profiles included USA,
Thailand, Taiwan and Ghana. Those used for clothing and textile
profiles were Holland, England and Ghana. These foreign countries
were particularly selected because Dutch and English firms have a
long tradition of selling wax cloth and textiles in Ghana. Rice from
Thailand, Taiwan and USA also compete with the Ghanaian rice
production (Houlihan, 2005). Thus, to measure the relative influences of
aspects of country of origin image on consumer preferences, respon-
dents were asked to rate each country, on a scale from 1 (very low)
to 9 (very high), with regard to (a) prestige, (b) quality and (c)
technological advancement of its rice (or clothing). The likelihood of
purchasing rice (or clothing and textile) made in each country and
respondents' familiarity with rice (or clothing and textile) made in
each country were also measured on a 5-point scale.
RESULTS
The data reveals that the respondents were well repre-
sented in terms of sex, age, education, employment and
income levels. Out of the 100 respondents, 60% were
female while only 40% were males. The uneven gender
distribution reflects the predominance nature of female in
trading activities in Ghana. 30% of the females were less
than 25 years old, an indicative of youthfulness of the
sample. Generally, the surveyed population was highly
educated. Large proportion of the respondents (55%) had
secondary school certificate, 27% had diploma or
certificates while 18% had first degree or Higher National
Diploma (HND). The majority of the respondents (43%)
interviewed were unemployed, 34% were employed and
23% were self-employed.
As might be expected, the working population generally
earns higher than non-working group. 57% of the respon-
dents said they earn less than GH12, 000 (USD 1,200) a
year. A further 34% said they earn between GH12, 000
(USD 1, 200) and GH24, 000 (USD 2,400) whiles few
respondents earn more GH 24,000 (USD 2,400) a year.
In fact, as much as 57% of the respondents reported
incomes below the country’s poverty datum line which is
currently pegged at about GH12,000 (USD 1, 200) for a
family of 6.
The data also shows the results on the usage rate of
rice and clothing and textile among users. The results
indicated that respondents use more of imported rice and
clothing and textile than locally produced rice and
clothing and textile. 72% of the respondents use both
local and imported rice and clothing and textile regularly,
out of which 40% use more imported rice and clothing
and textile. The usage rate has implications for respon-
dents’ attitude towards made-in Ghana goods.
Importance of product attributes to the Ghanaian
consumer
Table 1 shows the relative importance of various attri-
butes in the Ghanaian consumer preference in terms of
ranking for rice and clothing and textile, as derived from
conjoint analysis. The results show that country of origin
(C) was the most important attribute in rice preferences.
Contrasts using pair-wise t-tests show that it is signi-
ficantly more important than brand name (B), price (P),
quality (Q), and Taste (T) at P < 0.01. For clothing and
textiles, country of origin is as important as brand name
(that is, C = B, as shown in the contrasts), but signifi-
cantly more important than price, taste and quality at p <
0.01. Again, price, quality, and taste are substantially less
important than country of origin.
In comparison to a study by Saffu and Walker (2006)
also using clothing and textile, country of origin appears
to be more important to Ghanaian consumers, with a
weight of 0.33, than it is to consumers in the developed
countries of America (0.29), Canada (0.22) and Holland
(0.18). Although the importance of country of origin to
Americans is also quite high, it is so for a different
reason. Americans are concerned about country of origin
because they want to make sure it is a domestic brand
(Bruskin Report, 1985; Roper Organization, 1985) while
Ghanaians are concerned about country of origin because
354 Afr. J. Bus. Manage.
Table 2. Ghanaian consumer's preferences.
Product category
Made in Part-worth utility Contrasts
USA (U) 1.345
Thailand (Tl) -1.309
Ghana (G) -1.510
Rice
Taiwan (Tw) -1.145
U=Tl>Tw>G
England (E) 0.299
Holland (H) 0.139
Clothing and Textile
Ghana (G) -2.165
H=E>G
they want to make sure it is foreign brand.
Ghanaian consumers' country of origin preferences
Table 2 shows the Ghanaian consumer country of origin
preferences as derived from the analysis. For rice, part-
worth utilities show that Ghanaian respondents like 'Made
in USA' and 'Made in Thailand' labels most, followed by
'Made in Taiwan' and, lastly, 'Made in Ghana'. The con-
trasts show that the respondents like USA and Thailand
labels about equally (that is, U = Tl, P > 0.05). Both
countries are significantly preferred to Taiwan (Tw) and
South Korea is significantly preferred to Ghana (G) at P <
0.01. It was somewhat surprising that respondents rated
the Taiwan above the Ghanaian label for rice despite
expressing significantly lower familiarity with Taiwan
made rice (4.10 vs. 6.45, P = 0.00). From the part-worth
utilities, the brand preference order was: Imported rice >
local. Thus, while respondents like rice, they do not like
Ghana as a country of origin.
For clothing and textile, imported ones are by far the
most preferred choice. Holland and England are rated
about the same (that is, H = E, P > 0.05). 'Made in Gha-
na' clothing and textile were by far the least preferred at P
< 0.01. The results in Table 2 illustrates clearly that Gha-
naian consumers have low regard for 'Made in Ghana'
labels.
Importance of country image and likelihood of
purchase
Table 3 shows the ratings of each country on the 4
aspects of country of origin image as well as likelihood to
purchase by respondents who prefer foreign brands to
local brands. The alpha quality coefficients of the four
items for measuring country of origin image were 0.85 for
USA, 0.85 for Thailand, 0.93 for Taiwan, and 0.66 for
Ghana.
Table 3 further shows that respondents who prefer
foreign rice are about equally likely to purchase USA or
Thailand brands, followed by Taiwan brands. They are
most likely to purchase clothing and textile made in Hol-
land, followed by England brands. With respect to country
of origin image, the foreign sources are rated significantly
higher than Ghana on all dimensions for rice as well as
clothing and textile (P = 0.00, pair-wise t-tests). While
USA and Thailand were rated about the same on all
dimensions for rice, Holland was rated highest on all
dimensions for clothing and textile.
To investigate the relative influences of different
aspects of country of origin image in the Ghanaian con-
sumer's preference for foreign-made products, a series of
regression analyses was performed. The difference in the
likelihood of purchasing a rice (or clothing and textile)
from each foreign country versus a rice (or clothing and
textile) made in Ghana was regressed against the diffe-
rences in the ratings of the prestige, quality, and
consumer of each foreign country versus Ghana. In other
words, the study wishes to determine the relative influen-
ces of the perceived superiority of foreign manufacturers
in prestige, quality, and taste of the Gha-naian consumer
preference for foreign products.
DISCUSSIONS
The study examined Ghanaians' attitudes towards made
in Ghana products and goods with foreign origin. The
results of this study suggest that (a) country of origin is
more important than price and other product attributes
and at least as important as brand name, in the Ghanaian
consumer choice, (b) the Ghanaian consumer holds the
'Made in Ghana' label in low regard relative to foreign
labels and (c) superior quality and consumer taste are the
two most important reasons for the Ghanaian consumer
preference for foreign products.
The first two findings support the results reported by
Jaffe and Martinez (1995) for Mexico, and Ettenson
(1993) and Klenosky et al. (1996) in the case of the
former socialist countries of Eastern Europe. Other litera-
ture shows that one of the things consumers highly
considered when purchasing clothing is country-of-origin
(Brown and Rice, 2005; Chen-Yu, Hong and Lee, 2001).
Suwannaporn and Linnenmann (2008) also found that
country of origin was frequently mentioned as an impor-
tant criterion in buying rice in rice-eating countries and
was the most distinctive of all buying criteria between the
Asian, European ad Australian consumers studied. In
their study on Ghanaian workers, Fianu and Harrison-
Arthur (2007) reported that those who looked for labels
(for information including manufacturer's/brand name,
price and country of origin) while shopping for fabrics
were 75%, whereas 83% looked for labels when selecting
ready-made clothing to determine the quality. Although
more than half of the respondents in this study reported
incomes below the country’s poverty datum line, however
in the Ghanaian situation, 95% of Ghanaians buy
second-hand clothes (Swiss Academy of Development,
1997). Since second-hand clothes are relatively cheaper
than new ones, country-of-origin could be an issue other
than price. On Ghanaian consumer's low regard for
'Made in Ghana' label vis-à-vis foreign ones, Ohene-
Frempong (2004) has also observed that fewer and fewer
Ghanaians dress traditionally these days and much of
what they wear is imported from foreign non-African
countries. The third result is new and appears to repre-
sent one of the early instances of relating specific
aspects of country image to preference for foreign pro-
ducts. This is important because isolating the aspects of
country of origin image that influence product choice
gives a developing country some focus or priority in im-
proving the image of domestic products. On the flipside,
developing country consumers attitudinally prefer foreign
brands not because of perceived quality but also as
enhancement of social status (Batra et al., 2000; Zhou
and Belk, 2004). For instance, in Ghana, clothing is what
people gain status from (de Witte, (2001) therefore some
Ghanaian women make it a point to show up in a new
funeral cloth every Saturday. Although very expensive,
De Witte (2001) added that the preferred choice is the
Dutch wax which is deemed as the best, quality, and
highly desirable cloth. It has also been reported that
Ghanaian consumers are choosing foreign rice over
Ghanaian rice because they perceive the former to be of
better quality (Houlihan, 2005).
Implications of the study
For manufacturers, policy makers and government in de-
veloping countries, the present results suggest a difficult
challenge in developing a vibrant manufacturing industry
and changing the attitudes of its citizens toward domestic
products. Instead of import restrictions, the government
could encourage and subsidize efforts aimed at improv-
ing the quality of domestic products. Foreign competition
can indeed be a catalyst in improving the quality of local
goods, as has been the case in India (Jordan, 1996).
Where it is possible, developing countries' manufac-
turers should consider joint venture or licensing arrange-
ments with well-known foreign manufacturers so that the
finished product would have a foreign association. Since
brand name is also important to the
Ghanaian consumer, association with a well-known
foreign brand name may improve consumer evaluation of
the product even though it is manufactured in a
developing country (Jaffe and Martinez, 1995). Taiwan,
Opoku and Akorh 355
Singapore, South Korea, among other Asian countries,
acquired credibility and technological transfer through
such arrangements with companies in more developed
countries (Darling and Wood, 1990). Once the physical
product has been improved in terms of quality, price, and
technological advancement, the 'psychological product' in
terms of prestige and pride of ownership should follow.
Because country of origin assessments are dynamic in
nature (Darling and Wood, 1990), a developing country
like Ghana's country of origin image at home and abroad
should improve as the quality of its manufacture im-
proves. Only then will Ghanaian-made products be able
to stand up to foreign-made products in the Ghanaian
market place and possibly in export markets. Concurrent
with improving the quality of domestic goods, the Ghana
Association of Industries could continue trying to promote
the image of Ghanaian-made goods through consumer
education, advertising, and trade shows. It could also
continue to direct 'Buy Ghanaian' appeals to consumers
concerned about the Ghanaian economy. However, the
success of patriotic appeals requires similar quality or a
price advantage relative to imports.
The implication of the findings in this study for foreig-
ners doing business in Ghana, of course, is to capitalize
on their country equity in appealing to the Ghanaian
consumer (Shimp et al., 1993) in their marketing commu-
nications and product promotions. The USA rice marketer
(such as Rice Master) could emphasize the quality and
consumer taste of USA rice relative to local brands. For
apparel, shoes and other goods where the country of
manufacture is not readily obvious, the foreign marketer
could prominently display the 'Made in' label. Besides,
local companies can confuse consumers about the brand
origins of their products by giving them exotic brand
names or putting up advertisements with foreign charac-
teristics so that they can benefit by being perceived to the
foreign.
Limitations of the study and future research
directions
The results more accurately reflect the perceptions of
middle-class Ghanaian consumers who are more likely to
be aware of the national origin of foreign products. There-
fore, the results of this study should be tested further with
other independent samples that represent the whole
social class of the Ghanaian society. Besides, this type of
study should be extended to other domestic products, to
enhance their marketability as well as improve the export
market of the country and reduce the over-reliance on
imported products. The present study took place in Accra
(the nation’s capital city) alone; hence the scope of the
respondents should be expanded to include other cities,
towns and other sub-saharan countries for effective ge-
neralization of the findings. One issue also worth noting
is that only two product categories and only five foreign
countries were considered. Future studies could consider
356 Afr. J. Bus. Manage.
additional product categories and additional countries
since the relative influences of price, quality, prestige,
and taste in consumer evaluations appear to vary by pro-
duct category and by country. Another possible limitation
is that including well-known brands (e.g. Dutch brand) in
conjoint evaluation tasks may understate the full impact
of other qualitative attributes, such as country of origin
(Iyer and Kalita, 1997). However, it can also be argued
that using only unknown or fictitious brands can overstate
the impact of such attributes since, in the real world,
consumers' choice sets often include well-known brands.
Including them in conjoint evaluation tasks can only
enhance external validity. Lastly, the country of origin
(COO) concept is increasingly becoming blurred as pro-
ducts are designed, manufactured, and branded in more
than one place. For instance, when a product is labelled
as US, England or Holland, in nearly all cases the country
of origin is China or India – only the brand is US, England
or Holland. Therefore, the study could have been decom-
posed in country of design (COD) and country of manu-
facture (COM). Though respondents were not informed
about this, this could not be considered a major drawback
because no complex products were used in this study.
Finally, in order to get more insights, it could have also
been useful to discuss the findings of the survey with a
focus group, which may deliver some qualitative interpre-
tations from the consumers' perspective, for example,
what is the understanding of a Ghanaian consumer when
she/he talks about quality, taste, western label, western
advertisement and western products.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The use of King Fahd University of Petroleum and
Minerals' facilities in preparing this paper is gratefully
acknowledged.
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