ASIAN CONSUMER SURVEY FINDS 24% SHUN U.S. BRANDS

But Majority in Five Countries Ignore Calls for Boycotts

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HONG KONG (AdAge.com) -- In a five-country Asian survey, 24% of respondents said they reject U.S. brands,
Photo: AP
India has the highest level of rejection, with 36% of consumers shunning U.S. brands. The country has seethed with huge protests against the war in Iraq.
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but a majority liked brands regardless of national origin.

Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett Worldwide asked 1,000 respondents about the perceived origin of 20 major brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, McDonald's and KFC, attitudes toward foreign brands compared to local brands, and intentions to purchase major foreign brands in the current political climate.

Five countries
The survey was conducted by telephone in late February in China, South Korea, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

A full 65% of those surveyed claimed to "buy the brands I like regardless of where they come from." Each U.S. brand, in every country, scored 3 -- signifying "same intent to purchase as last year" -- or higher when consumers were asked about purchase intent in the coming 12 months.

36% of Indian consumers
In India, 36% of respondents said they rejected U.S. brands, compared to just 19% in Muslim-dominated Indonesia and 13% in China.

"Brand origin is not the key driver of the purchase decision, because Asian consumers are more interested in lifestyle and social values than politics," said John Woodward, Leo Burnett's regional planning director, Hong Kong.

Most U.S. brands surveyed were perceived as global as much as American, although attitudes to brand origin varied vastly by country. In China, still relatively new to Western brands, international origin still equals prestige. The driving factor is quality in India and value in the Philippines, while Indonesians prefer local brands to support the local economy.

Anti-Western Koreans
"The most difficult country in Asia for global brands is [South] Korea, because it has strong indigenous brands [such as Samsung and Hyundai] and there is less need for status that comes from foreign brands. Also, younger people there are more anti-Western," Mr. Woodward said.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the widely publicized boycotts against them, McDonald's and Coca-Cola both scored highest on "understand me and my needs" and "have my country's interests at heart." Mr. Woodward attributed those high scores to long-standing social programs and heavy advertising.

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