Ni, Arnt Kyawt (2020) Origin, Product Evaluation and Willingness to Buy: A Study of Young Myanmar Consumers’ Mobile Phone Choices. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Over the last decades, country of origin (COO) and its associated concepts have received a substantial amount of research interests. They have been considering as essential instruments to explain consumers’ product evaluation and willingness to buy local or foreign brands. In international marketing literature, however, COO concept remains as one of the most debatable topics due to the effect of globalisation and the movement of the global supply chain in the production process.

The change of modern consumer perceptions and preferences in the evaluation of products leads to the debates amongst the scholars about the relevance of COO, and thus, leads to cultivating the research questions of the current study. This research focuses on the COO construct from the dimension of the county of a brand (brand origin) and image-related constructs to investigate Myanmar young professionals’ product evaluation and purchase intention. Hence, the main contribution of this research aims to extend the application of COO concept into Myanmar consumers context.

The majority of COO and related ascendant concepts are explored in developed countries, and a few studies are conducted in developing countries with accessible research facilities. However, newly emerging economies such as Myanmar have less privilege to research due to their hardships in political, economics, and level of country development. Thus, this study offers essential insights on the behaviour of Myanmar young professionals in product evaluation and purchase process of the research product (i.e., mobile phones) as well as the advanced perspective of the relationship between origins- and images-related country and brand constructs and consumers’ attitudes.

By extending the boundary of COO concept application into a new research context, the findings are beneficial for international marketers by highlighting the importance of product country image, COO, and brand image as predictors of consumer purchase behaviour. One main contribution of this study is that it empirically examines the consumer-level determinants of COO in a newly emerging country context where consumer behaviour research is limited. The initial survey conducts in a metropolitan city of Myanmar, Yangon where target respondents, young professionals, are based and received 245 valid questionnaires. The follow-up, 20 interviews take place amongst the chosen participants for insightful one-to-one interviews.

The findings show that product’s country image is the most influential factor in product evaluation, whereas the brand image is the most influential one on purchase intention for the mobile phones in Myanmar. The product evaluation can serve as a partial mediator between the relationships of ‘product’s country image – willingness to buy’ and ‘brand image – willingness to buy.’ Revealing the brand name of the product and the country name of its origin can only affect to some extent on product evaluation, yet the factor itself does not influence consumers’ purchase intention. One of the interesting findings shows that COO has no impact on Myanmar consumers’ product evaluation but has a direct influence on their purchase intention. All these results of the conceptual relationships of quantitative analysis are complemented by the discussion and findings extracted from in-depth interviews. The practicality of this research offers beneficial suggestions for various stakeholders who are keen to observe consumer behaviour of not only Myanmar young adults but also other young consumers of newly emerging economies wherein similar situations.

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