|dc.description.abstract||International trade activity is becoming an increasingly more important part of the world
economy, and it is recognized that there is a greater necessity to gauge consumers'
attitude toward both domestic and foreign products (Netermeyer, Durvasula, and
Lichtenstein, 1991). Research in this area has focused on what is termed the country of
origin effect, that is, investigating how consumers perceive products sourced from a
particular country (Roth and Romeo, 1992). Substantial portions of country of origin
studies so far have focused on the consumer behavior of people in developed countries.
However, because multinational companies around the world have expanded their
operations in various developing countries, it is now relevant to examine this
phenomenon in the developing world.
This dissertation examines the importance that South African consumers place on country
of origin information and how they perceive the quality of products made in various
countries, namely the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, China, India, and South
Africa. Further more, this study examines the ethnocentric tendencies of South African
consumers and the influence of demographical factors on consumer perception as well as
the evaluation of domestic versus foreign products in South Africa. One hundred and
seventy-six questionnaires were distributed to employees of the University of Natal both
Durban and Westville campuses and of this total, one hundred and thirty-three
questionnaires were returned. This represents a response rate of seventy-six percent. Data
was analyzed using SPSS software.
Statistics analysis of the results showed that South African consumers do indeed attach
importance to country of origin information and that their evaluation of products is
influenced by their perception and image of different countries. In line with previous
research, the results indicated that consumers perceived products from developed
countries as being of higher quality than products from developing countries. But they
also exhibited a positive attitude towards South African products. This contradicts
previous research findings whereby consumers in developing country perceive local
products negatively. The result also revealed that price, country of origin, and brand are
important to South African consumers before they consider purchasing decisions.
Furthermore, the result indicated that South African consumers tended to be ethnocentric.
Ethnocentrism scores, however, couldn't be generalized for all segments of the
population. Differences were found based on sex, education and age. Young, educated,
female consumers demonstrated less ethnocentric tendencies than other segments
implying that this segment represents the best target groups for overseas manufacturers