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Survey: Country of origin big deal with shoppers

Respondents say they prefer local brands to global ones for seafood by a margin of 57% to 18%.

Nearly 75 percent of global respondents say a brand's country of origin is as important as or more important than nine other purchasing drivers, including selection, price and quality, according to findings from the Nielsen Global Brand-Origin Survey released Wednesday.

The new research examined whether consumers prefer goods produced by global/multinational brands (defined as those that operate in many markets) or by local players (those operating only in a single market -- the respondent's home country), based on responses from more than 30,000 online respondents in 61 countries spanning 40 categories.

Respondents in Asia-Pacific and Africa/Middle East are likelier to say that origin is more important than the other selection factors (33 percent and 32 percent on average, respectively).

European, North American and Latin American respondents, in contrast, are likelier to say brand origin is less important than the other selection factors (35 percent, 32 percent and 31 percent on average, respectively). 

"One of the more surprising findings from the survey is that country of origin is as important as -- or even more important than -- other purchasing criteria such as price and quality," said Patrick Dodd, group president at Nielsen Growth Markets.

Why choose?

Why do global consumers choose local brands over global brands or vice versa?

When asked to select the top three decision factors for choosing a global brand and for choosing a local brand, respondents offered similar response patterns across all regions.

Globally, better price/value is the top-selected reason for choosing global (42 percent) and local (43 percent) brands. Positive experience with the brand (32 percent for global brands, 28 percent for local), safer ingredients and processing (31 percent, 28 percent), better product benefits (31 percent, 25 percent) and a sale or promotion on the brand (26 percent, 24 percent) also are among the top-selected reasons for selecting a product.

National pride is the only selection factor for which there is a notable difference between local and global brands.

Logically, this is a more important reason for buying local products than global ones. One-fifth of global respondents (21 percent) say national pride is the most important reason they buy local products, with sentiment highest in Africa/Middle East (25 percent), Asia-Pacific (24 percent) and Latin America (21 percent) and lower in Europe (16 percent) and North America (10 percent).

Local food brands have advantage

For fresh foods, local brands are, not surprisingly, the clear preference.

The majority of global respondents who have purchased the category say they prefer local brands to global ones for vegetables (68 percent vs. 11 percent), meat (66 percent vs. 13 percent), fruit (64 percent vs. 12 percent), seafood (57 percent vs. 18 percent) and yogurt (52 percent vs. 22 percent).

The preference for local brands holds for nearly every fresh category in every region. Local brands also are preferred for beverage categories where spoilage is a concern or flavor preferences differ by region. Respondents in every region prefer local brands for juice, water and milk.

Among those who purchase carbonated soft drinks, global brands are preferred in every region except Europe, where the largest percentage say brand origin is not important to them.

For packaged foods and snacks, local taste preferences dominate. Local brands are preferred to global brands for ice cream (44  percent vs. 27 percent, respectively), cookies/biscuits (40 percent vs. 28 percent), crisps/crackers (40 percent vs. 28 percent), breakfast cereal (44 percent vs. 29 percent), instant noodles (47 percent vs. 24 percent) and canned vegetables (53 percent vs. 20 percent).