Scottish country of origin: its role and value in the identities of Scottish premium/luxury brands.
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The focus of this study is the role and function of country of origin (COO) in the creation and communication of the brand identities of Scottish premium/luxury brands. It applies the identity concept which is well developed in the branding literature to the COO literature where the focus on the consumer perspective of country image has resulted in the area of origin management being underdeveloped. Recognising the paucity of COO literature which examines the mechanisms and processes used by luxury brands to communicate COO, these are also analysed. The study uses an innovative two stage sequential mixed methods research design. In the first stage, the macro perspective is gained from the analysis of a database of companies compiled specifically for the study covering six categories of Scottish premium/luxury brands. Additionally a postal survey and analysis of company web pages gather a mix of qualitative and quantitative data to examine the role of COO. The second stage gains strategic insights from semi structured interviews with business elites achieving in depth understanding of the decision making process regarding the strategic advantages of COO in brand identities. The value of the study lies in the contribution to knowledge from frameworks which identify: the characteristics which differentiate companies within and across luxury sectors and organisational structure models which reflect the dominant ownership structures in the Scottish food and beverage, textiles/cashmere and whisky sectors; the dimensions of Scottish premium/luxury brands across a range of product categories; the motivations and drivers for adopting a COO identity; the criteria which distinguish COO brands; the COO communication process. The importance of COO as a key differentiating device which conveys competitive advantage is developed using the metaphor of COO as the anchor which locates the brand in a place which evokes symbolic, emotional and psychological associations and provides the brand with protection and security.