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

The new research examined whether consumers prefer goods produced by global/multi-national 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 more likely to say that origin is more important than the other selection factors (33% and 32% on average, respectively). In contrast, European, North American and Latin American respondents are more likely to say brand origin is less important than the other selection factors (35%, 32% and 31% 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," says Patrick Dodd, group president, Nielsen Growth Markets, New York. "In a crowded retail environment, brand origin can be an important differentiator between brands, but sentiment varies by category and by country, and leveraging a powerful brand presence needs to be managed carefully regardless of whether it is global or local. Ultimately, the brands that deliver on a strong value proposition and connect personally to consumers' needs will have the advantage in any given market."

The why behind the buy
Why do global consumers choose local brands over global brands or vice versa? When asked to select the Top 3 decision factors for choosing a global brand and a local brand, respondents offered similar response patterns across all regions—emphasizing the factors that typically are top rated in consumer surveys.

Globally, better price/value is the top-selected reason for choosing global (42%) and local (43%) brands. Positive experience with the brand (32% for global brands, 28% for local), safer ingredients and processing (31%, 28%), better product benefits (31%, 25%) and a sale or promotion on the brand (26%, 24%) 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, unless it was a global product widely recognized as 'American,' such as Marlboro, or 'Japanese,' such as Toyota. One-fifth of global respondents (21%) say national pride is the most important reason they buy local products, with sentiment highest in Africa/Middle East (25%), Asia-Pacific (24%), Latin America (21%) and lower in Europe (16%) and North America (10%).

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

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

The Nielsen Global Homecare Survey was conducted Aug. 10 - Sep. 4, 2015 and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 61 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and North America. The sample includes Internet users who agreed to participate in this survey, and has quotas based on age and sex for each country. It is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers by country. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. However, a probability sample of equivalent size would have a margin of error of ±0.9% at the global level. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion.