Robert Gordon University, UK
Made in Scotland: Country of origin branding in the Scottish textile industry
The Scottish textile industry continues to contribute significantly to the national economy, turning over £1bn annually and generating 8,200 domestic jobs. With exports now worth over £360m, industry leaders recognise that ‘Made in Scotland’ is a prized asset that brand managers must protect and elevate on a global scale. Globalisation has fuelled growth in consumer demand for deeper levels of transparency of provenance. The significance of country of country of origin (COO) rises as premium Scottish textile firms expand their global presence and the market place becomes more competitive. In response, premium Scottish textile brand identities utilise a range of COO cues to differentiate and generate competitive advantage. While Scotland is believed to possess an ‘aura of excellence’ that brands must strive to maintain, few studies examine Scottish COO beyond the confines of government reports.
Academics have largely developed COO understanding from a brand image perspective, yet this area of research remains underdeveloped in relation to specific product categories and brand identity. In response, this research contextualises the brand identity concept in conjunction with COO, providing insight into the strategic incorporation of COO in the premium Scottish textile industry. The inductive qualitative research strategy adopted aligns with the interpretivist paradigm guiding this research. Semi-structured interviews with leading Scottish textile executives reveal the strategic use of COO. Typically embedded within the wider brand narrative, COO acts as a valuable point of difference. Findings reveal that benefits of COO branding include brand differentiation, brand protection, symbolic and emotional associations, increased purchase intent and ultimately, competitive advantage. Based on primary findings a model has been created to illustrate the benefits of COO associations in contemporary multi-dimensional brand stories.