Iconicity among Top Brands in Four Welfare States

Authors: Joseph Scarpaci*, Center for the Study of Cuban Culture + Economy
Topics: Business Geography, Cultural Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: branding, consumption, nationalism, nation-branding, welfare state, consumer behavior
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Stones Throw 3 - Mica, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Iconicity among Top Brands in Four Welfare States


Cultural branding sidesteps the emphasis on repetitive messaging and multi-channel marketing that drive most marketing strategies. This paper outlines our research on this topic for Denmark, Cuba, Chile and Argentina, and presents a conceptual framework and methodology that deepens our understanding of consumer brand preferences for the top-ten national products. Our cross-national study uses, for the first time in international marketing, a most-similar systems approach developed by Wilensky et al. (1980) and employs mixed methods to compare and contrast to what extent consumers detect national symbols in the top-ten consumer products of their homeland. We consider these four countries as ‘welfare-state nations’ based on a tradition of subsidized goods and services for vulnerable groups and high levels of nationalism (Epstien Andersen 1990, 1996), despite their trans-Atlantic divide. Their evolution from guilds and trade groups, to unionization in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, exhibit a broad pattern of protectionism and state intervention –although uneven at times—that unify them from the so called ‘free markets’ of countries like the United States, Australia and Japan. Union demand-making has historically made for a compliant state that has afforded protectionism and, in turn, cultivated nationalism, in formidable ways. Surveys of more than 1,200 consumers, and 300 focus group participants underscore the strong geographic attachment that place, branding and heritage play in shaping consumer attachments with national products. This aspect of nation-branding may offer domestic producers an edge in the highly globalized world of retailing.

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