Foreign branding is the strategy of spelling or pronouncing a brand name in a foreign language. Brands employing foreign branding strategy are referred to as foreign-sounding brand name(s). Foreign branding has been widely used by companies worldwide. Are foreign-sounding brand names, like " foreign monks” in the big brand family, better at chanting sutras? No ready answer exists. Although the concept of foreign branding was put forward thirty years ago, theoretical investigations are limited and research findings are inconsistent. Companies lack guidelines on how to use foreign branding strategy effectively. This paper aims to reveal some patterns by an extensive literature review, then to raise several avenues for future research. This paper holds that foreign branding is to make foreign pronunciation or spelling as a clue which may trigger particular associations in consumer minds and then influence consumer perception and attitudes. Theories such as brand association, national and culture stereotypes, brand clue and perceived brand globalness all provide theoretical grounds for this phenomenon. First, the " foreign” component in a foreign-sounding brand name may bring brand origin association and produces country-of-origin effect accordingly. Second, when such brand names evoke consumer associations about one particular single country or a group of countries, national and culture stereotypes will be activated and influence consumer judgement and evaluation. Third, in a globalized market, these brands can increase consumers’ perceived brand foreignness and globalness with their " foreign” or " global” attributes, leading to better acceptance for consumers with global and/or cosmopolitan identity. Lastly, thanks to the self-brand image congruence, the global consumer culture positioning embedded in foreign-sounding brands can induce resonance and positive responses from consumers with global orientation. The existent research related to foreign branding focuses on several topics including how foreign branding influences consumer behavior separately and jointly with country-of-origin information, as well as the moderating effects of consumer-, product- and country background-related factors. The research findings show that the main effect of foreign branding is unclear, nor is the mechanism; the interaction effect of foreign branding and country-of-origin is inconsistent. Moreover, the effects of foreign branding may be influenced by factors like product category (hedonic/utilitarian/hybrid; high involved/low involved), consumer ethnocentrism, gender and country category (developed country/developing country). With regard to methodology, ecological validity is limited because previous research often involves experimental manipulation. When considering consumer reactions to the incongruence between the COO implied by the brand name and the actual COO, the literature takes a cognitive perspective and focuses on information processing. It neglects the fact that there exist two types of actual COO (home country vs. foreign country) which might result in differential consumer reactions. Furthermore, global brands and emerging markets do not receive sufficient attention. Rather, in the literature, specific countries are often associated with foreign branding. On the basis of a literature review, this paper puts forward four future research avenues, including foreign branding of go-global emerging brands, non-western foreign branding, foreign branding unassociated with any specific country, and foreign branding in the light of global branding.
Are Foreign Monks Better at Chanting Sutras? A Literature Review of Foreign Branding and Prospects
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 39, Issue 11, pp. 14 - 30 (2017) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2017.11.002
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Cite this article
Shang Xiaoyan, Guo Xiaoling. Are Foreign Monks Better at Chanting Sutras? A Literature Review of Foreign Branding and Prospects[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2017, 39(11): 14–30.
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