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Research Links - May 2007 - Finding the Right Fit
Professor Leila Hamzaoui
Telfer School of Management Researcher Studies How Consumers in Emerging Markets Evaluate Products.
During the past 20 years, the international economy has experienced a number of dramatic changes: many trade barriers between nations have come down; technological advancements have accelerated the transportation of goods; and most large North American and European manufacturers have moved their plants to new locations throughout Asia.
These aspects of globalization have transformed economic life in all developed markets and in many emerging markets. Perhaps no elements of modern economies have been affected as much as consumer behaviour and the ways companies market their products.
"Consumers in emerging markets have become acutely aware of where the branded products they buy are designed and manufactured," says Dr. Leila Hamzaoui, an assistant professor at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. "This situation holds tremendous consequences for companies that market their branded products internationally."
Dr. Hamzaoui should know. One of Canada's foremost authorities on consumer behaviour and international marketing, she recently concluded extensive research on the impact of globalization on consumer behaviour in emerging markets.
"My research was designed to delve deeply into the impact of products" country of origin on consumer behaviour in Tunisia," says Dr. Hamzaoui. "I was able to gauge this impact by examining how consumers' behaviour and evaluations were influenced by brand names, and where the products are and manufactured."
Dr. Hamzaoui determined that, when it comes to where products are designed and manufactured, consumers in emerging markets are more sensitive to country of design as well as country of manufacture considerations for those products that demonstrate status, such as automobiles. These considerations have much less influence on consumers in emerging markets when they purchase products that have lower symbolic value, such as television sets or shampoo.
"In emerging markets, there is a clear connection between product categories and the importance consumers place on brand, country of design and country of manufacture," says Dr. Hamzaoui. "Measuring the relationship or fit between certain product categories and the concepts of country of design and country of manufacture in these markets will enable companies to develop effective marketing strategies and product promotion."
Dr. Hamzaoui is continuing her research in this field by examining consumer behaviour in Canada, and will continue that research in emerging markets such as India and China and in developed European markets. She will also expand her research on consumer behaviour in another area, the consumption of organic foods (and for recycled products), by determining what factors and values influence Canadians to purchase organic food rather than conventional food and then creating a profile of the typical organic food consumer.
"During the last decade, the organic food sector has showed substantial changes and promising trends, and is influencing consumer behaviour," says Dr. Hamzaoui. "I am convinced that consumer behaviour and growing environmental issues in this field are going to produce profound consequences for economic markets, the environment, supply chains and local food producers."
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