GLOBAL CONSUMER REGARD FOR U.S. BRANDS DECLINES

New Study Findings Are 'Warning Sign' For Marketers Says Research Chief

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Regard by overseas consumers for American culture and products has declined so much since 1999 that U.S. marketers should view it as a "warning sign,"
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according to a new study issued by a global market research organization today.

The study's findings were released this afternoon at NOP World's "Driving Growth Across the Marketing Cycle" conference at Manhattan's Millennium Broadway Hotel. The one-day event drew about 500 advertising, marketing and market research executives from firms that included Bristol-Myers Squibb, UPS, Kraft, Volvo and DDB Worldwide.

30 countries
NOP World's annual survey of 30,000 consumers in 30 countries outside the U.S. found that diminishing respect for American culture is having a detrimental impact on American brands around the world.

Headquartered in New York, NOP World is a market research division of U.K.-based publisher and business services conglomerate United Business Media. It is also the parent of RoperASW and one of the world's largest market research organizations.

The company, which has been doing this study each year since 1998, conducted the latest survey from January to March of this year. It found that the concepts of internationalism, equality and other altruistic values were less associated with American culture in 2004 than they were five years ago.

Consumers more hesitant
Last year, the study found, global consumers became more hesitant about U.S. brands, as respondents' familiarity, claims to use and desire to purchase American products declined for the first time since the study began.

"It's not like there's a massive boycott [of U.S. goods]," said Tom Miller, managing director of NOP World. "Instead, it seems to be an erosion of support. It's not falling off the face of the earth, but it is clearly a warning signs for brands."

He said the survey found that the countries whose consumers were least aligned with American culture are Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The countries whose consumers felt the closest affinity with American culture are Australia, Brazil, Hungary, the Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan and Venezuela.

Local competitors
Mr. Miller attributed some of the change to the growth of new opportunities for local brands in local markets.

The report suggests that U.S. businesses should pool their resources and best practices in an effort to better shift consumer perceptions outside the country.

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