College Students Clueless about Brands’ Origins

May 24, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Brand Metrics | Telecom | Youth & Gen X

College students may be infatuated with brands, but they tend not to know those brands’ origins, according to market research firm Anderson Analytics. For example, 53% of students said Finnish cell phone company Nokia was Japanese.

Some 57.8% thought Korean electronics company Samsung was Japanese, 48.5% mistakenly thought Adidas clothing came from the United States, not Germany.

“Marketers need to realize that country of origin can have a positive impact on their brand equity, particularly if they are a luxury goods or automobile manufacturer,” said Tom H. C. Anderson, Managing Partner, Anderson Analytics. “But if no action is taken to educate the new generation of American consumers, this impact may be lost.”


Cell phones were at the top of the most-misidentified country of origin category.

  • Although Nokia has dominated the cell phone market, just 4.4% of students knew that Nokia was made in Finland.
  • Just 8.9% knew LG cell phones came from Korea.
  • 42% of students surveyed thought Motorola was Japanese, compared with 37.9% who knew it was American.


Whereas for cell phones country of origin didn’t seem to negatively affect students’ perception of the brand, “country of origin plays an important part in making luxury goods and automobiles more exclusive and exotic,” Anderson said.

  • French Hermes scored higher with students who correctly identified it as a French rather than a UK brand, with 23% more giving it high ratings.
  • Fewer students (a 13.3% difference) gave Japanese Lexus top ratings when they mistakenly thought it was a US-made car.

Even brands like IKEA that compete on cost may benefit from their ties to an exotic country of origin, said Anderson:

  • Among the 31.2% who knew IKEA was a Swedish brand, the brand rating was 11.9% higher than among the 23.6 % of respondents who though IKEA was a US brand.

The top 3 countries cited as making quality products were Japan, the US and Germany:


For the study, a representative sample of 1,000 US college students at over 375 US universities and colleges was interviewed. The survey was fielded online during the fall 2006 semester by Anderson Analytics’, which provides research on the youth market.

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