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The paper aims to explore consumer behavior towards “Made in” products in order to determine the associated quality and value-attributes related to the purchasing intention of consumers. In particular, the article presents the comments and results deriving from an empirical investigation on “Made in Italy”. The research questions addressed are: (1) Does recognition really exist in terms of qualitative characterization of “Made in Italy” products? And if yes; (2) Does willingness to pay a “premium price” for such products exist in quantitative terms? The study is characterized by two phases. From a theoretical standpoint, the main literature on the topic is presented through the identification and deepening of the scientific strand of reference, such as the Country of Origin, the Country Image and the Brand Image, placing them in a broader context on Willingness to Pay. From an experimental standpoint, the research group investigates the existence and the type of relationship between the perception of quality and the willingness to pay for “Made in Italy” products. The summarized main findings show (1) “Made in Italy” is well established as a conceptual category in the minds of consumers; and (2) there is a significant “premium price” recognized by consumers for “Made in Italy” in the three sectors analyzed (food, fashion and furnishings). The “premium price” is not homogeneously recognized for the various product sectors analyzed, although for all the sectors the most commonly encountered value is relative to 10-30%.
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sustainability
Article
Are Consumers Willing to Pay More for a “Made in”
Product? An Empirical Investigation on
“Made in Italy”
Lucio Cappelli 1, *, Fabrizio D’Ascenzo 2, Luisa Natale 1, Francesca Rossetti 2, Roberto Ruggieri 2
and Domenico Vistocco 1
1Department of Economics and Law, Cassino University, Viale dell’ Università, 03043 Cassino, Italy;
natale@unicas.it (L.N.); vistocco@unicas.it (D.V.)
2
Department of Management, Sapienza University of Rome, Via del Castro Laurenziano 9, 00161 Rome, Italy;
fabrizio.dascenzo@uniroma1.it (F.D.); francesca.rossetti@uniroma1.it (F.R.);
roberto.ruggieri@uniroma1.it (R.R.)
*Correspondence: luciocappelli@libero.it; Tel.: +39-077-62993760
Academic Editors: Alessandro Ruggieri, Samuel Petros Sebhatu and Zenon Foltynowicz
Received: 29 December 2016; Accepted: 3 April 2017; Published: 6 April 2017
Abstract:
The paper aims to explore consumer behavior towards “Made in” products in order to
determine the associated quality and value-attributes related to the purchasing intention of consumers.
In particular, the article presents the comments and results deriving from an empirical investigation
on “Made in Italy”. The research questions addressed are: (1) Does recognition really exist in terms
of qualitative characterization of “Made in Italy” products? And if yes; (2) Does willingness to pay
a “premium price” for such products exist in quantitative terms? The study is characterized by
two phases. From a theoretical standpoint, the main literature on the topic is presented through
the identification and deepening of the scientific strand of reference, such as the Country of Origin,
the Country Image and the Brand Image, placing them in a broader context on Willingness to
Pay. From an experimental standpoint, the research group investigates the existence and the type of
relationship between the perception of quality and the willingness to pay for “Made in Italy” products.
The summarized main findings show (1) “Made in Italy” is well established as a conceptual category
in the minds of consumers; and (2) there is a significant “premium price” recognized by consumers
for “Made in Italy” in the three sectors analyzed (food, fashion and furnishings).
The “premium
price” is not homogeneously recognized for the various product sectors analyzed, although for all
the sectors the most commonly encountered value is relative to 10–30%.
Keywords:
Made in Italy; quality; willingness to pay; Country of Origin; country image; brand image;
consumer attitude; commodity; sustainability
1. Introduction
This article forms part of a larger research project which aims to analyze the consumer’s attitude
and behavior towards “Made in Italy” products, in order to identify the associated attributes and the
value systems that influence the purchasing intention.
The research questions on which the project is focused are essentially the following:
(1) Does recognition really exist in terms of qualitative characterization of “Made in
Italy” products?
And if yes,
(2) Does willingness to pay a “premium price” for such products exist in quantitative terms?
In concrete terms, the study examines the relationship between the recognition, in terms of
qualitative characterization, and the consumer’s willingness to pay a “premium price”, in quantitative
Sustainability 2017,9, 556; doi:10.3390/su9040556 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 2 of 17
terms, for “Made in Italy” products. The fundamental aim is to demonstrate whether and to what extent
the consumer is willing to pay a premium price for a “Made in Italy” product, taking into account
three traditional areas of our country’s specialization: Food, Fashion and Furnishings. Typically,
these three areas are located in industrial districts characterized by small and medium enterprises
that strongly characterize its reference area, and whose stability has a strong impact expressed in
terms of productive and social sustainability. In this context, these companies can sustain its global
competitiveness by applying the enhancement strategies linked to the “Made in”, also using approaches
based on Corporate Social Responsibility, thus revaluing assets and entrepreneurial skills [13].
The paper is organized in two parts: the first introduces a discussion on the literature, while the
second illustrates an empirical investigation, conducted through a questionnaire.
The literature seems to lack sufficient references for a full understanding of the real worth of
“Made in Italy” in terms of consumers’ willingness to pay. In order to present the main literature on the
subject, it seems logical to refer to the wide strand of the Country of Origin, within which other strands
are associated such as the Country Image and Brand Image that we also investigated. Willingness to
Pay represents our additional field of the literature, which is transversal to the others.
2. Literature Review
As discussed, we have chosen to present the literature review following the main strand of
research under the denomination of Country of Origin. Two other research areas, referred to as
Country Image and Brand Image, that are related to the first were deepened within this context.
The Willingness to Pay, finally, was a cross-literature to the topics. The reasons why we felt it useful to
follow this logic are strictly connected with our research questions. In fact, the literature on Country
of Origin is the natural container to study “Made in Italy” products, since it makes explicit reference
to a particular country; the Country Image is associated with the most representative characteristics
of the production of a specific country (this perspective is especially useful as our empirical research
focused on specific areas/products that typically refer to “Made in Italy”); the Brand Image is equally
important since the brand represents the conceptual vehicle within which consumers associate “Made
in Italy” products; Willingness to Pay, finally, represents the specific aim of our research and for this
reason can be considered as being transversal with the previous strands of research.
2.1. Country of Origin
Ditcher (1962) introduces the concept of Country of Origin (i.e., COO), underlining its importance
in explaining the success of the products [
4
]. The first scientific paper investigating the relationship
between consumer behavior and products’ COO is due to Schooler [
5
]. This author investigates the
existence of tangible effects on consumer behavior due to the country of origin of the products [
5
].
Information on the country of origin results in two effects: the “halo construct” and the “summary
construct”. In the former case, the consumer has a generic image of that country, while the in the
second, the consumer already has purchasing experiences of the products of that country and, therefore,
is able to provide a subjective assessment [
6
]. Through the “summary construct effect”, the COO
is used in the purchasing evaluation by consumers who have a high familiarity with the product.
It is obtained by analyzing the evolution of the use of the COO in different types of consumers [
7
].
According to Baker and Ballington [
8
], De Nisco [
9
], De Luca and Pegan [
10
], Bursi et al. [
11
], the COO
effect influences the consumer’s decision-making process. Several studies have been proposed with
this purpose for general products [
12
14
], for the commodity class of products [
15
], for specific
products [
16
18
], and for particular brands [
19
,
20
]. The COO effect is dominant when the consumer
associates the manufactured goods with the tradition of production [
21
,
22
]. However, other authors,
such as Johansson et al., argue the indirect effect of the COO on the overall evaluation of the product
branded “Made in” [
23
]. According to these authors, the purchasing intention does not depend by
the COO but from other attributes [
24
], such as the particular historical moment [
25
,
26
]. According
to Manrai et al. [
27
], political, cultural and economic issues have a stronger influence in the process
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 3 of 17
evaluation of the “Made in” product. They propose summarizing such issues through the GDP
indicator [
28
]. Several empirical investigations differ in industrialized countries and developing
countries. In particular, different perceptions of manufactured products occurred in developed and
developing countries [
13
,
29
,
30
]. There are indeed many preconceptions observed in developing
countries [
8
,
20
,
23
]. There are patriotic attitudes and ethnocentric consumption [
31
,
32
]. For products
coming from industrialized countries, consumers in the industrialized country show a favorable
attitude towards “Made in” products when the products come from their own home country [
33
].
The effect is opposite for consumers of developing countries, where the “foreign” product is perceived
as being of greater quality and is, therefore, viewed positively [
34
,
35
]. The COO theories are closely
related to risk perception and prejudices. According to Hampton [
15
] and Lumpkin [
35
], when
consumers in industrialized countries purchase a product of their own country of origin, a low risk
is perceived during the decision-making process. The effect is an overestimation of the quality of
domestic products and an underestimation in the case of foreign products [
36
]. Ger et al. interpret the
symbolism of the COO and conduct a survey on stereotypes related to some countries: the consumer
from nations with a not-always-positive social identity rewards foreign products more than local
products [
37
]. Factors such as ethnocentrism and the propensity to aggregation occur only in countries
where there is a positive social identity. They are supported by positive stereotypes. However, they are
not relevant for those people who seek the aspirational identity. Moreover, the demographic variables
influence the effect of the COO [
38
]. Several empirical investigations [
39
41
] show a more important
influence of “Made in” products on older people (with a low education and low income). Obermiller
and Spangenberg [
42
] analyze the relationship between the COO and Consumer Behavior using three
dimensions: the affective component, the normative component and the cognitive component. In the
affective component, the COO does not appear to be related to the perception of product quality,
but rather to a set of factors such as the consumer’s emotions and sensations [
43
]. The normative
component concerns the adaptation of a product’s legislative standards [
44
], with particular reference
to the food product sector [
45
]. A cognitive approach, which assumes that consumers are rational,
investigates the relationship between the COO, the Brand, and the Willingness to pay [
46
]. Studies
investigate a possible correlation between the COO and Consumer Knowledge. Consumer knowledge
is regarded as a multi-dimensional construct, where different kinds of product-related experiences
lead to different dimensions of knowledge. Such different dimensions have different effects on product
evaluations and choices [
47
]. The customer knowledge has become a big topic. Consumers with a
high level of product-country knowledge are more likely to trust the COO in the evaluation process of
low-involvement products, rather than consumers who have a low level of product-country knowledge.
Consumers with a high level of knowledge of the product class, especially in the case of products with
unfamiliar brand names, are more confident in the use of the COO in evaluating the product than
consumers with a low level of knowledge [48].
2.2. Country Image
Another perspective of the COO’s researches regards the product’s Country Image [
49
,
50
].
Usunier and Cestre study the country’s association to product peculiarities [
51
]. The country’s image
can be expressed as “the representation, the reputation, the stereotype that consumers associate to the
products of a specific country” [
52
,
53
]. According to Roth and Romeo [
22
], the image of a country
is determined by a number of dimensions that positively qualify a nation in terms of production;
these dimensions are related to the areas of “innovation” (superiority, technology advantage), “design”
(style, elegance), “prestige” (exclusivity, status of national brands), and “workmanship” (reliability,
durability, quality of domestic products). The Country Image’s effect on perceptions and on the
behavior of individuals, can be an important competitive tool both at the enterprise level and at the
country level [
54
]. The academic community has not found a point of convergence on the conceptual
and practical content related to Country Image [
55
]. Many researchers defined Country Image as a
“perception”, “impressions”, “stereotype” or “pattern” [
43
] other authors, instead, associate a set of
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 4 of 17
beliefs with this term [
56
]. The implications from an operational standpoint of this lack of convergence
in a single definition of Country Image has produced a plethora of measurement tools of the particular
parameter. The debate over the years has defined the concept as a multidimensional construct,
consisting in the following dimensions [57]:
-
Factors related to the image of the product categories with certain provenances, such as shoes
for Italy;
- Influence of the “Made in” labels;
- Image evoked by the origin of the product;
-
The product’s national image compared to the consumer’s overall judgment in respect to
past experience;
- Factors related to the image of domestic products over those that are imported.
As regards the Italian context, Italy’s country image seems to be based on some traditional
components such as history and culture, design, creativity, tourism, and lifestyle [
58
]. That image
is inevitably compared with the characteristics of the production related to “Made in Italy” [
59
].
Varaldo (2001) argues that “Made in Italy” is not recognized with a specific and defined
identity; it includes a diverse set of industries and manufacturing sectors without major
technological ties. However, the author recognizes main the components of “Made in Italy”
due to the “fashion system” (textile/clothing, footwear, leather goods, eyewear, jewelry), “home
furnishings” (lighting articles, marble, ceramic tiles, home faucets), the “Mediterranean diet”
(pasta, pizza, olive oil, wine) and “mechanical” (textile machinery, packaging, leather tanning).
This interpretation of “Made in Italy” comes from a perspective that is widely accepted in
doctrine and is variously developed [
60
62
]. In Italy, it is summarized in the formula of “4A
(In the Italian language, the macro-sectors of manufacturing excellence start with the first letter
“A”: Clothing-Fashion (Abbigliamento), Home Furnishings (Arredo-casa), Food and Beverage
(Alimentare), Automation-mechanical-plastic-rubber (Automazione Meccanica))”. “Made in Italy”
focuses on four macro-sectors of manufacturing excellence: Clothing-Fashion, Home Furnishings,
Food and Beverage, and Automation-mechanical-plastic-rubber [
63
,
64
]. Close to these macro-areas,
there are other high-tech sectors (luxury cars, cruise ships, helicopters and aerospace, defense,
chemicals and pharmaceuticals, biomedical) and the Italian tourist system, based on “4A (In the
Italian language, the tourist system start with the first letter “A”: Environment (Ambiente),
Art (Arte), Architecture (Architettura), Hospitality (Accoglienza))”: Environment, Art, Architecture,
Hospitality [
63
]. Considering the sectoral excellence, “Made in Italy” expresses culture, and its
products represent significant symbols of the image that the Country boasts in the world [59].
2.3. Brand Image
Most researchers recognize the importance of the Brand Image. Aaker [
65
] argues that the image
creates value in terms of processing information for the consumer, differentiating the brand from
others, and generating purchasing processes giving positive sensations. Keller [
66
], one of the major
contributors in this domain, defines the Brand Image as “perceptions of a brand as reflected by the
brand associations held in consumer memory”. The same author considers the Brand Image as a
component of the Brand Knowledge, classifying the brand associations (and therefore, the brand
image) into three categories: attributes (non-product-related attributes and product-related attributes),
benefits (functional, experiential and symbolic), and brand attitudes (consumers’ overall evaluations
of a brand). Aaker [
65
] makes an important contribution to the Brand Image literature, distinguishing
11 dimensions: product attributes, intangibles, customer benefits, price, experience, user, celebrity,
life-style, product class, competitors, and country of origin. Thus, there is a close relationship between
the Brand Image and the Country of Origin: the image of the brand evokes positive emotions in the
consumer if the brand belongs to a particular country of origin that is significant for the consumer
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 5 of 17
himself [
67
]. Consumers spontaneously associate the brand of the product with the brand’s country of
origin, independently from the product’s physical place of manufacture [68,69].
With specific attention to the Italian case, several studies on the image of the “Made in Italy”
brand have demonstrated the real significance of the brand image, placing it in the top position for
brand awareness in most countries. The “Made in Italy” brand evokes attributes in consumers’ minds
that positively characterize the image of Italy as a country, facilitating the perception through the
effect of the product-country association [
70
]. Main studies highlight that the “Made in Italy” brand
image is positive all over the world [
71
] so that three phenomena are generated, in order to make use
of the worth and strength of the brand image: counterfeiting, the “Italian sounding” and the Italian
brands bought by foreign companies. The World Trade Organization defined counterfeiting as the
“unauthorized representation of a registered trademark carried on goods identical or similar to goods
for which the trademark is registered, with a view to deceiving the purchaser into believing that he/she
is buying the original goods”, while the “Italian sounding” phenomenon refers to creating images,
colors and names of products very similar to their Italian equivalent. Counterfeiting and the “Italian
sounding” phenomena impact directly and negatively on Italy as a country, especially in the fashion
sector and agribusiness. In fact, this problem affects consumers that are not aware of the purchase
of non-original products (demand-side) and the companies with registered brands (supply-side).
Many foreign groups have acquired consolidated Italian brands, associated with the “Made in Italy”
concept. However, this gives rise to some questions: (1) Do they continue to be “Made in Italy”? and
(2) Do they continue to be perceived as being “Made in Italy”? The consumer ’s perspectives include an
element of attention such as perception (image, reputation, quality) and related behaviors (willingness
to pay a premium price). The customer’s standpoint is fundamental, because the brand’s attribute
is created by its promoter and is influenced by the market. According to Temperini et al., 2016 [
70
],
“Made in Italy still definitely enjoy a high degree of awareness in international markets; however,
the impact on perceptions, image, and customer loyalty, caused especially by the actions that tend to
create confusion and mislead customers, is to be feared”. The brand embodies and communicates
a promise [
72
]. The development of buyer confidence is a priority in order to increase his/her loyalty
and to streamline purchasing intentions [
73
], thus increasing the value of the brand itself. Looking
ahead, the “Made in Italy” brand value is important in order to increase the relationship between the
customer and the brand, acting positively on satisfaction and fidelity.
2.4. Willingness to Pay
Consumer affinity for a product’s “Made in” could have an effect on a consumer’s willingness
to pay [
74
,
75
]. Willingness to Pay refers to the maximum amount of money a consumer is willing to
spend for a product [
76
], and it could be defined as the attention or perception of consumers towards
the purchase of a product related to the psychology approach to pay a premium price for a “Made in”
or for a specific brand product [
77
]. The consumers’ willingness to pay is higher when the COO of
a branded product reminds a positive country image [
78
]. Thus, the consumers of a “Made in” product
are willing to pay a premium price [
79
]. Finally, the consumer ’s willingness to pay depends on the
evaluating role of the “Made in Italy” product value. Consumers set their purchasing processes relating
to the assessment of Country of Origin, Country Image and Brand Image expressed by a directly
proportional relationship with the purchasing power.
3. Materials and Methods
The survey used an ad hoc questionnaire developed as an investigative tool. A preliminary
test was carried out on a small set of units in order to sharpen the questions. This was particularly
relevant for tuning the items related to measuring the propensity to pay of the respondents, and their
attitude towards “Made in Italy”. The survey was hence on May 2015 by a set of trained interviewers.
It involved a sample of 660 Italian citizens living both in the big town of Rome and in a medium-sized
demographic town in Southern Lazio, specifically Cassino. The decision to consider different
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 6 of 17
demographic dimension centers stems from the idea to monitor the public’s attitude towards “Made
in Italy”, taking into account the possible existence of local lifestyles both in a metropolis and in
non-metropolitan urban areas. The sampling plan is stratified according to three variables: gender
(male, female), age group (18–24; 25–34; 35–44; 45–54; over 55), education (up to high school, diploma,
degree and higher). The sample size consists of 300 interviews in Cassino and 360 interviews in Rome.
The share of interviews in each stratum is proportional to the corresponding value in the reference
population. The questionnaire was designed in order to analyze consumers’ attitude towards “Made
in Italy” products and has been administered through direct interviews. Once collected the data,
all computation and graphics were done in the R language [
80
], using the basic packages and the
additional ggplot [
81
], likert [
82
] and wordcloud [
83
] packages. Particular attention has been devoted
to understanding the tangible (material, shape, etc.) and intangible (aesthetics, style, image, brand,
etc.) characteristics of the products associated with “Made in Italy” that affect the purchase.
The questionnaire was structured along three different perspectives: the knowledge of the
phenomenon (Section Q1), the measurement of the propensity to pay a premium price for a product
associated with “Made in Italy” (Section Q2) and the general attitude towards “Made in Italy”
(Section Q3). This in according with the most influential available literature [
52
,
84
]. The final Section Q4
pertains to demographic information of the respondent.
Q1. Knowledge of the Phenomenon
The knowledge of the phenomenon was investigated introducing different definitions of “Made
in Italy”. The characteristics of the products and the role of the brand played also a central role in this
section of the questionnaire. In particular, the first question introduced the general theme and aimed
at filtering the respondents who knew “Made in Italy”. The second question asked to select among
four different definitions of “Made in Italy”. Finally, in the last two questions, the respondents were
asked to indicate three products and three brands, respectively, both associated with “Made in Italy”.
Q2. Willingness to Pay for a Premium Price
The second section of the questionnaire aimed at detecting the general attitude to pay a premium
price for “Made in Italy”. To this end, two opinion questions were used. The two questions was
planned to detect both the perceived quality of a Made in Italy product, and the additional price of such
a type of product. Since it is well know in literature that respondents tend to answer what is expected
by the person who administer the questionnaire [
85
], the respondents were also requested to quantify
the willingness to pay for a premium price based on the product sector (food, textile, home furnishing)
both in percentage terms and in absolute terms. In particular, in the latter case, three hypothetical
values were used:
100,
1000, and
10,000. This in according with the literature commonly used
by demographers for measuring family preference size [
86
]. Specifically, it was further investigated
whether the possible willingness to pay an additional price was influenced by the reference sectors
(food, clothing, home furnishings). The data collected in this section aimed towards comprehending
the second research question.
Q3. Attitudes towards “Made in Italy”
This section tries to assess two dimensions: the rationality level of the consumer and the level of
affection for “Made in Italy”. The scaling process exploits Likert scales: respondents were asked to
specify their level of agreement or disagreement on a symmetric agree-disagree scale for two series of
statements. For this purpose, each Likert scale was divided into four response modes (strongly agree,
agree, disagree, and strongly disagree). We opted for a forced choice method, not inserting the middle
option “Neither agree nor disagree”. This to avoid an easy option for unsure respondents.
Q4. Personal Data
This section enabled the gathering of information on the following demographic information:
gender, age, level of education and residence. This information was crossed with the other variables
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 7 of 17
measured in order to evaluate any differences among the various strata of the sample analyzed.
As already mentioned, we chose to compare the attitudes towards “Made in Italy” in different contexts
of population size, by taking a metropolis and a smaller center into account. These are two popular
local targets on Italian territory. A subsequent analysis would be to extend the research to other areas,
in order to have additional comparator elements.
4. Results and Discussion
Before moving on to the presentation of the results, it is important to emphasize that in
a preliminary stage, the analysis of the answers suggested the adoption of a coding in 6 representative
sectors of “Made in Italy” and in 9 characteristics that distinguish it. In particular, the following areas
were identified: food, furniture, drinks, jewelery, mechanics, fashion, and technology, and the following
characteristics: beauty, certification, quality, price, elegance, originality, tradition, sustainability,
and utility.
The Italian respondents’ opinion on the image of “Made in Italy” was collected through two
questions with open answers. The first asks them to indicate the first 3 adjectives that they associate
with the term “Made in Italy”. The collected answers are graphically depicted in Figure 1using
word clouds, also referred to as text clouds or tag clouds. They are visual representation of text data,
widespread for reporting qualitative data. As was expected (Figure 1a), a series of characteristics
emerged that identify “Made in Italy” as a badge of excellence with high standards. In particular,
two aspects appear: one linked to product characteristics (quality, reliability, safety), while the other is
linked to the aesthetic quality (original, elegant, beautiful). It is interesting to note the association of
the term “expensive” to indicate the surplus of expense that one associates with a product marked
with this badge.
In the second question, respondents are asked to indicate the first three brands that come to mind
representing “Made in Italy” products. The results are split into three sectors (food, automobiles and
fashion) which, more than others, have been exported around the world (Figure 1b). The most
known brands vary from Ferrari to Fiat, from Barilla to Ferrero. It is interesting to note that
the interviewees did not directly refer to a brand, but spoke more generally about “reggiano”,
“parmigiano”, “prosciutto” etc.
Sustainability 2017, 9, 556 7 of 17
4. Results and Discussion
Before moving on to the presentation of the results, it is important to emphasize that in a
preliminary stage, the analysis of the answers suggested the adoption of a coding in 6 representative
sectors of “Made in Italy” and in 9 characteristics that distinguish it. In particular, the following areas
were identified: food, furniture, drinks, jewelery, mechanics, fashion, and technology, and the
following characteristics: beauty, certification, quality, price, elegance, originality, tradition,
sustainability, and utility.
The Italian respondents’ opinion on the image of “Made in Italy” was collected through two
questions with open answers. The first asks them to indicate the first 3 adjectives that they associate
with the term “Made in Italy”. The collected answers are graphically depicted in Figure 1 using word
clouds, also referred to as text clouds or tag clouds. They are visual representation of text data,
widespread for reporting qualitative data. As was expected (Figure 1a), a series of characteristics
emerged that identify “Made in Italy” as a badge of excellence with high standards. In particular, two
aspects appear: one linked to product characteristics (quality, reliability, safety), while the other is
linked to the aesthetic quality (original, elegant, beautiful). It is interesting to note the association of
the term “expensive” to indicate the surplus of expense that one associates with a product marked
with this badge.
In the second question, respondents are asked to indicate the first three brands that come to
mind representing “Made in Italy” products. The results are split into three sectors (food,
automobiles and fashion) which, more than others, have been exported around the world (Figure 1b).
The most known brands vary from Ferrari to Fiat, from Barilla to Ferrero. It is interesting to note that
the interviewees did not directly refer to a brand, but spoke more generally about “reggiano”,
“parmigiano”, “prosciutto” etc.
(a)
(b)
Figure 1. Word Cloud: The perception of “Made in Italy” characteristics and the principal brand. (a)
The top 3 adjectives that come to mind when talking about “Made in Italy”; (b) The top 3 brands that
come to mind when talking about “Made in Italy”.
The positive image associated with “Made in Italy” is also confirmed by Figure 2, which reports
the results of the question formed as a “thermometer of sentiments”. The interviewee is invited to
indicate on a scale between two phrases where their instinct most accurately lies: to one extreme, the
interviewee fully agrees with the statement “I am willing to pay a higher price to buy a Made in Italy”
product while at the other extreme, the interviewee agrees with the statement “It is not fair to pay
more just because the product is Made in Italy”. A prevalent proportion of the sample (60%) appears
prepared to pay more in order to purchase a “Made in Italy” product, as shown by the answers on
the aforementioned scale (Figure 2). The percentages drop slightly (57%) in the case of female
interviewees (Figure 3). Respondents with a higher level of education show less willingness to pay a
higher price (Figure 3). Younger individuals seem more oriented to pay a premium price (the
percentage that is placed on the left-most segment of the sentiment thermometer is equal to 30%
quality
beautiful
expensive
elegant
good
safety
reliable
origi nality
genuine
uniqueness
tradition
excellent
refined
great
prestigious
wanted
craft
guaranteed
lasting
cheap
design
healthy
exclusivity
luxurious
creativity
resistant
style
checked
comfort
genius
innovative
precision tasty
traditional
goodness
high
higher
taste
class
prized
professional
special
warran ty
best
durable
interesting
simplicity
valid
appreciable
attractive
comfortable
functionality
helpful
imaginative
inimitable
authentic
charming
edited
food
perfect
rare
Figure 1.
Word Cloud: The perception of “Made in Italy” characteristics and the principal brand.
(
a
) The top 3 adjectives that come to mind when talking about “Made in Italy”; (
b
) The top 3 brands
that come to mind when talking about “Made in Italy”.
The positive image associated with “Made in Italy” is also confirmed by Figure 2, which reports
the results of the question formed as a “thermometer of sentiments”. The interviewee is invited to
indicate on a scale between two phrases where their instinct most accurately lies: to one extreme,
the interviewee fully agrees with the statement “I am willing to pay a higher price to buy a Made in
Italy” product while at the other extreme, the interviewee agrees with the statement “It is not fair to pay
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 8 of 17
more just because the product is Made in Italy”. A prevalent proportion of the sample (60%) appears
prepared to pay more in order to purchase a “Made in Italy” product, as shown by the answers on the
aforementioned scale (Figure 2). The percentages drop slightly (57%) in the case of female interviewees
(Figure 3). Respondents with a higher level of education show less willingness to pay a higher price
(Figure 3). Younger individuals seem more oriented to pay a premium price (the percentage that
is placed on the left-most segment of the sentiment thermometer is equal to 30% compared with a
value of 25% for older individuals (Figure 3). It should be noted that the above results are significant
(p-values < 0.01).
Sustainability 2017, 9, 556 8 of 17
compared with a value of 25% for older individuals (Figure 3). It should be noted that the above
results are significant (p-values < 0.01).
Figure 2. Distribution of interviewees according to the “sentiment thermometer”.
Figure 3. Distribution of interviewees according to the “sentiment thermometer”, by gender.
As already discussed, the research aims to discover whether and how much the interviewees
would be prepared to pay more to purchase a “Made in Italy” product. It was intended to observe
Figure 2. Distribution of interviewees according to the “sentiment thermometer”.
Sustainability 2017, 9, 556 8 of 17
compared with a value of 25% for older individuals (Figure 3). It should be noted that the above
results are significant (p-values < 0.01).
Figure 2. Distribution of interviewees according to the “sentiment thermometer”.
Figure 3. Distribution of interviewees according to the “sentiment thermometer”, by gender.
As already discussed, the research aims to discover whether and how much the interviewees
would be prepared to pay more to purchase a “Made in Italy” product. It was intended to observe
Figure 3. Distribution of interviewees according to the “sentiment thermometer”, by gender.
As already discussed, the research aims to discover whether and how much the interviewees
would be prepared to pay more to purchase a “Made in Italy” product. It was intended to observe the
relationship between the premium price and some socio-demographical variables (gender, age and
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 9 of 17
education). Focusing only on the level “between 10% and 30%” for the premium price, the difference in
gender, education and age appears to be sensitive. In particular, as regards gender, there is no notable
difference between men and women, with the exception of the slot that indicates a premium between
10% and 30% where women display a greater willingness to pay more (34 versus 28) for a “Made in
Italy” product (Figure 4).
A greater variance emerges in the relationship between the willingness to pay and the level of
education (distinguished in two categories: up to high school and more than high school) (Figure 5).
This is also the case in the slot “between 10% and 30%”, depending on the level of education (43% in the
case of those more highly educated against 19% of those of a more modest educational background).
Also, for the surplus, higher percentages (from 30% to 50%) are observed, albeit more modestly
(5% versus 13%), depending on the level of education.
Sustainability 2017, 9, 556 9 of 17
the relationship between the premium price and some socio-demographical variables (gender, age
and education). Focusing only on the level “between 10% and 30%” for the premium price, the
difference in gender, education and age appears to be sensitive. In particular, as regards gender, there
is no notable difference between men and women, with the exception of the slot that indicates a
premium between 10% and 30% where women display a greater willingness to pay more (34 versus
28) for a “Made in Italy” product (Figure 4).
A greater variance emerges in the relationship between the willingness to pay and the level of
education (distinguished in two categories: up to high school and more than high school) (Figure 5).
This is also the case in the slot “between 10% and 30%”, depending on the level of education (43% in
the case of those more highly educated against 19% of those of a more modest educational
background). Also, for the surplus, higher percentages (from 30% to 50%) are observed, albeit more
modestly (5% versus 13%), depending on the level of education.
Figure 4. Propensity to pay by gender (%).
Figure 5. Propensity to pay by education (%).
Figure 4. Propensity to pay by gender (%).
Figure 5. Propensity to pay by education (%).
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 10 of 17
Lastly, a difference in behavior between younger and older consumers emerges only with respect
to the premium price level “between 10% and 30%” (36% younger consumers versus 26% older
consumers) (Figure 6).
Sustainability 2017, 9, 556 10 of 17
Lastly, a difference in behavior between younger and older consumers emerges only with
respect to the premium price level “between 10% and 30%” (36% younger consumers versus 26%
older consumers) (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Propensity to pay by age (%).
With respect to the perceived image of “Made in Italy” by interviewees, two blocks of statements
were constructed, each composed of six items (Figure 7). The first was to indicate the consumer’s
level of rationality while the second was to evaluate the level of affection for “Made in Italy” products.
Figure 7. Now I will read some statements out to you. Could you express your agreed level? (Read
out each item).
Figures 8 and 9 illustrate the distribution of respondents for the various items in the two batches.
Going into detail for the separate items related to the level of consumer rationality, the respondents
Figure 6. Propensity to pay by age (%).
With respect to the perceived image of “Made in Italy” by interviewees, two blocks of statements
were constructed, each composed of six items (Figure 7). The first was to indicate the consumer’s level
of rationality while the second was to evaluate the level of affection for “Made in Italy” products.
Sustainability 2017, 9, 556 10 of 17
Lastly, a difference in behavior between younger and older consumers emerges only with
respect to the premium price level “between 10% and 30%” (36% younger consumers versus 26%
older consumers) (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Propensity to pay by age (%).
With respect to the perceived image of “Made in Italy” by interviewees, two blocks of statements
were constructed, each composed of six items (Figure 7). The first was to indicate the consumer’s
level of rationality while the second was to evaluate the level of affection for “Made in Italy” products.
Figure 7. Now I will read some statements out to you. Could you express your agreed level? (Read
out each item).
Figures 8 and 9 illustrate the distribution of respondents for the various items in the two batches.
Going into detail for the separate items related to the level of consumer rationality, the respondents
Figure 7.
Now I will read some statements out to you. Could you express your agreed level? (Read out
each item).
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 11 of 17
Figures 8and 9illustrate the distribution of respondents for the various items in the two batches.
Going into detail for the separate items related to the level of consumer rationality, the respondents
answer differently in terms of agreement or disagreement with a given statement. Concerning
agreement, the item “It is important to compare prices” collects over 90% of respondents, while for
disagreement the item “I do not consult bid fliers” collects almost three quarters of respondents,
expressing disagreement on the question (Figure 8).
Sustainability 2017, 9, 556 11 of 17
answer differently in terms of agreement or disagreement with a given statement. Concerning
agreement, the item “It is important to compare prices” collects over 90% of respondents, while for
disagreement the item “I do not consult bid fliers” collects almost three quarters of respondents,
expressing disagreement on the question (Figure 8).
Figure 8. Respondents according to the level of affection based on the questions about the consumer’s
rationality.
It is worth commenting on the items related to the degree of affection for “Made in Italy”. The
statement “I feel gratified when I buy a Made in Italy” product collects 83% agreement among
respondents and, consistently, the reverse coded affirmation “It is a myth created by the Italians,
whereas it is not much appreciated abroad” collects 86% of the sample in disagreement (Figure 9).
F
igure 9. Respondents according to their level of agreement to the questions on the affection for
“Made in Italy”.
Figure 8.
Respondents according to the level of affection based on the questions about the
consumer’s rationality.
It is worth commenting on the items related to the degree of affection for “Made in Italy”.
The statement “I feel gratified when I buy a Made in Italy” product collects 83% agreement among
respondents and, consistently, the reverse coded affirmation “It is a myth created by the Italians,
whereas it is not much appreciated abroad” collects 86% of the sample in disagreement (Figure 9).
Sustainability 2017, 9, 556 11 of 17
answer differently in terms of agreement or disagreement with a given statement. Concerning
agreement, the item “It is important to compare prices” collects over 90% of respondents, while for
disagreement the item “I do not consult bid fliers” collects almost three quarters of respondents,
expressing disagreement on the question (Figure 8).
Figure 8. Respondents according to the level of affection based on the questions about the consumer’s
rationality.
It is worth commenting on the items related to the degree of affection for “Made in Italy”. The
statement “I feel gratified when I buy a Made in Italy” product collects 83% agreement among
respondents and, consistently, the reverse coded affirmation “It is a myth created by the Italians,
whereas it is not much appreciated abroad” collects 86% of the sample in disagreement (Figure 9).
F
igure 9. Respondents according to their level of agreement to the questions on the affection for
“Made in Italy”.
Figure 9.
Respondents according to their level of agreement to the questions on the affection for “Made
in Italy”.
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 12 of 17
Furthermore, an overall score has been computed for expressing the degree of rationality and
the affection for “Made in Italy” in a unique value. The steps are briefly described below: a number
is associated with each label related to the individual answer. Clearly, the statements formulated in
a reversed direction have been previously recoded. The final score for each subject is the sum of all
partial scores related to the individual items [87].
A principal component analysis was carried out with the aim of validating the internal consistency
of the two above-mentioned scales of attitude (see Figure 7). Basically, it is a multivariate technique
aimed at summarizing most of the redundant information related to the correlation between the
original variables (Table 1).
Table 1. Correlation statements/component to the type of statement.
Statement First Principal Component Second Principal Component
COMPARE_PRICES 0.07 0.44
FLYER 0.36 0.41
STATUS_SYMBOL 0.17 0.45
USELESSNESS 0.08 0.61
RESEARCH_BEST_PRICE 0.26 0.46
PLEASURE_OF_SHOPPING 0.01 0.57
GRATIFICATION 0.71 0.27
INTERNATIONAL 0.52 0.18
GIFT 0.73 0.18
GENIUS 0.48 0.08
LIFESTYLE 0.16 0.33
ITALIAN_ORIGIN 0.01 0.13
The obtained Coordinates have to be interpreted in terms of correlation between the original
variable and the synthesis factors. The table highlights how the items related to the two scales are well
separated. The first component explains about 15% of variability, and it is positively correlated with the
four statements “gratification”, “international”, “gift”, and “genius”. These are four statements that are
all related to the level of affection for “Made in Italy” (the correlation coefficient variables/factors are
never less than 0.48). The second component, tied to the statements “compare price”, “flyer”, “pleasure
of shopping”, “uselessness”, “status symbol”, and “research best price”, reveals a different dimension
to the previous due to the rationality of the interviewee. Also, for the second component, the explained
variability stood on the same level as that detected for the first component. The result is encouraging
because the list of questions specially designed for this research have proven effective in capturing two
distinct and non-overlapping dimensions. Such dimensions are not easily detectable due to the high
level of subjectivity that characterizes this kind of attitude. By using the Varimax rotation, two scores
were detected for each respondent: the former, related to the first principal component, expresses the
respondent’s willingness to rationalize the “Made in Italy” product; the latter, connected to the second
component, may instead be interpreted in terms of the respondent’s affection for the “Made in Italy”
product. The scores, classified into five categories, were crossed with the year of birth (Tables 2and 3)
and the gender (Tables 4and 5). The last row of each table reports the proportion of respondents who
have had at least a medium-high score. Such proportion has been obtained by cumulating the upper
middle and high class.
With respect to the cross-classification by age, the highest percentages both for the level of
rationality and for the level of affection for “Made in Italy” are observed for the people born between
1964 and 1977. On the contrary, the millennials (born after 1990) show the lowest level of affection for
“Made in Italy”.
As additional points that emerged from the data, Tables 4and 5highlight how the majority of
respondents are willing to pay a premium price ranging from 10% to 30%. It is worth remembering
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 13 of 17
that Table 4is related to the level of rationality while Table 5concerns the level of affection for “Made
in Italy”. Both tables refer to a general product.
Table 2. Rationality level of consumers: distribution by year of birth.
1963 1964–1977 1978–1990 1990Tot.
Lower 19.3% 15.8% 21.8% 22.8% 20.0%
Lower-middle 17.4% 18.0% 21.1% 24.2% 20.1%
Medium 24.8% 23.7% 17.7% 12.8% 19.8%
Medium-high 18.0% 15.8% 19.7% 26.2% 20.0%
High 20.5% 26.6% 19.7% 14.1% 20.1%
Tot. 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
%medium-high 38.5% 42.4% 39.5% 40.3% 40.1%
Table 3. Affection level for “Made in Italy”: distribution by year of birth.
1963 1964–1977 1978–1990 1990Tot.
Lower 23.6% 15.8% 17.7% 21.5% 19.8%
Lower-middle 17.4% 20.1% 19.7% 24.2% 20.3%
Medium 17.4% 21.6% 21.8% 19.5% 20.0%
Medium-high 23.0% 18.7% 17.0% 20.8% 20.0%
High 18.6% 23.7% 23.8% 14.1% 20.0%
Tot. 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
%medium-high 41.6% 42.4% 40.8% 34.9% 39.9%
Table 4. Rationality level: distribution by premium amount. General Framework.
Add a Premium in the Order of
From 10% to 30% From 30% to 50% 10% 50% Tot.
Lower 65.5% 17.6% 12.6% 3.4% 100.0%
Lower-middle 66.9% 9.9% 19.0% 4.1% 100.0%
Medium 62.2% 21.0% 15.1% 1.7% 100.0%
Medium-high 58.0% 18.5% 21.0% 2.5% 100.0%
High 57.5% 20.0% 18.3% 4.2% 100.0%
Tot. 62.0% 17.4% 17.2% 3.2% 100.0%
Table 5. Affection level for “Made in Italy”: distribution by premium amount. General Framework.
Add a Premium in the Order of
From 10% to 30% From 30% to 50% 10% 50% Tot.
Lower 65.0% 16.7% 17.5% 0.8% 100.0%
Lower-middle 63.6% 14.0% 19.0% 3.3% 100.0%
Medium 64.4% 19.5% 15.3% 0.8% 100.0%
Medium-high 59.7% 21.0% 16.0% 2.5% 100.0%
High 57.5% 15.8% 18.3% 8.3% 100.0%
Tot. 62.0% 17.4% 17.2% 3.2% 100.0%
5. Conclusions
The study provides starting points for reflection and discussion about “Made in Italy”.
From a theoretical perspective, the research bridges the gap in the literature since, to our knowledge,
no other studies investigating “Made in Italy” products in terms of willingness to pay an additional
premium price are available. Furthermore, we have combined and extended the studies concerning
“Made in Italy” with other domains, such as Country of Origin, Origin Brand, and Country Image. The
linking factor among these different fields was set under the Willingness to Pay a Premium Price. This
Sustainability 2017,9, 556 14 of 17
premium price for “Made in Italy” products was the focus of the empirical investigation, that aimed to
quantify the price ranges and their association with the specific sectors.
In summary, “Made in Italy” is a well-established conceptual category in the minds of consumers.
There is a significant and important “premium price” recognized by consumers for the three sectors
analyzed (food, fashion and furnishings). The “premium price” is not homogeneously recognized for
the various sectors analyzed, although a premium price “between 10% and 30%” is the typical value.
Rational consumer choice is not only based on the emotional element, but on a cognitive approach.
There is a strong level of consumer rationality towards the purchase of “Made in Italy” products,
in particular relating to price comparison, bid fliers and the choice of products offered at lower prices.
Further extensions of the empirical analysis to other areas have been planned for future studies.
Another point worthy of future investigation is the relationship between the identification of “Made
in Italy” and the willingness to pay by consumers. This, particularly through a differentiation of the
specific production areas in order to identify which area of “Made in Italy” is more satisfying for
enterprises in terms of consumers’ recognition of premium price.
Acknowledgments:
The authors would like to thank the reviewers’ suggestions for their contributions to the
research project.
Author Contributions:
The authors equally contributed to the reported research in terms of conception
and design.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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... The overall analysis is based on the following two research questions: (1) is there a preference in terms of consumption for Made in Italy products over similar non-Made in Italy products? And if this preference is demonstrated, (2) is there a willingness to pay, in terms of quantity, a premium price for such Made in Italy products? ...
... The main results obtained so far by Cappelli et al. (2016Cappelli et al. ( , 2017Cappelli et al. ( , 2019 [1][2][3] have clearly shown that Made in Italy products not only represent a well-defined conceptual category in the minds of Italian consumers, but that there is a premium price for Made in Italy products in the studied sectors (food, furniture, textile/clothing, mechanical automation), within a range of 10-30% depending on a sector. The results obtained so far [3] have shown that the premium price is generally higher for Made in Italy products in the food sector. ...
... The main results obtained so far by Cappelli et al. (2016Cappelli et al. ( , 2017Cappelli et al. ( , 2019 [1][2][3] have clearly shown that Made in Italy products not only represent a well-defined conceptual category in the minds of Italian consumers, but that there is a premium price for Made in Italy products in the studied sectors (food, furniture, textile/clothing, mechanical automation), within a range of 10-30% depending on a sector. The results obtained so far [3] have shown that the premium price is generally higher for Made in Italy products in the food sector. ...
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... The answers collected from the discussion about dairy product safety are graphically depicted in Figure 2 using a word cloud. It is a visual representation of text data, widespread for reporting qualitative data (Cappelli et al., 2017); the most frequent words appear to represent participants' concerns in the dairy sector. From the data in Figure 2, it is apparent that the respondents had a great concern for chemical residues, followed by food additives and microbial pathogens as the top 3 concerns. ...
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... A clear example of reputation building is 100% Made in Italy (Italy), which provides opportunities for SMEs to raise their profiles with registered trademarks. This is consistent with the literature, which confirms that trademarks are economically beneficial since they help to solve the issue of information asymmetry between sellers and buyers (Cappelli et al, 2017). ...
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