Supra-National Origin Marking Schemes
Sammanfattning: Abstract The growth of supra-national organizations, such as the European Union, has been a recent trend in today’s global environment, which has challenged traditional marketing concepts and product cues. One such cue that is significantly challenged is the 'origin cue'. An origin cue is conceived to be a socially constructed notion that consumers use to discern where goods come from and to accordingly evaluate products with. The origin cue is often predominantly materialized in the public sphere by a 'made in' labelling scheme. Various theorists have proven that the origin cue is a viable source of competitive advantage. Yet, globalization has appropriated and confused such cues and this has accordingly affected the way consumers attribute meaning and process new constructs, such as supra-national origins. The European Union, which exists at a supra-national level, is currently proposing to introduce a single origin marking scheme - a ‘made in the EU’ label - to capitalize on this ‘competitive advantage’. This umbrella labelling scheme throughout the EU is proposed to improve the visibility and equity of the Union and communication to consumers. Yet, consumers’ perception of the viability of such supra-national origin umbrella marking schemes has not yet been consulted, nor has the equity of the ‘made in’ label at a supra-national level. The purpose of this study therefore is to determine consumers’ working meanings attributed to such a supra-national origin marking scheme. A situated ‘global’ consumer approach is taken to analyze consumers’ perception of the viability of stretching the origin cue to the supra-national level. This is explored with reference to the illustrative and timely example of the European Union. Focus groups are used to attain consumer perceptions and access meanings they attribute to stretched origins, materialized through marking schemes. The complexity and corresponding viability of such a scheme is discussed, with reference to certain factors that influence how and what meanings consumers attribute to supra-national ‘made in’ labels in this globalised environment. The study proposes that supra-nations are not currently perceived as feasible origins by consumers. This currently renders a 'made in the EU' labelling scheme inappropriate as stretched origins lack heritage and a strong social concept, unlike other ‘traditional’ origin constructs. This study proposes that the origin cue has decreased in importance at this level and its emphasis has been shifted, as it is increasingly difficult for consumers to attribute meaning to origins at stretched levels. This has the implication that such schemes are currently commercially unviable until the supra-national ‘perception of origin’ can be manufactured to consumers.
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