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Title: Attitudes of U.S. retailers toward China, Canada, and the United States as manufacturing sources for furniture: an assessment of competitive priorities
Author: Buehlmann, Urs; Bumgardner, Matthew; Lihra, Torsten; Frye, Mary
Publication: Journal of Global Marketing. 20(1): 61-73.
Key Words: country of origin, wood household furniture, low-cost production, retailer attitudes
Abstract: While much has been written regarding the declining global competitiveness of U.S. furniture manufacturing and the subsequent loss of domestic market share and jobs, less is known about the role of retailers in furniture importing. This study investigated the attitudes of U.S. furniture retailers toward China, Canada, and the United States as manufacturing sources for residential furniture and their perceptions of consumer interest in country of origin for furniture manufacturing. The study was based on a nationwide survey in 2005 of the membership of a large U.S. home furnishings trade association. Over half of the retailers surveyed indicated that they did not always know where the products they sold were made; but many consumers were asking about the country of origin of furniture products. The ?halo effect? associated with preference for home country described in previous country or origin studies was confirmed in this study, but in a situation where the domestic source had already lost much of its market share. Low price was the only attribute for which China was rated higher than the U.S or Canada, reinforcing the ?China price? phenomenon discussed in the literature. Adjusting for the halo revealed several opportunities for U.S. and Canadian firms to compete in the U.S. wood furniture market on non-price factors. Those retailers sourcing furniture from China were found to have more favorable perceptions of Chinese goods than those not sourcing from China; although both groups had equally favorable perceptions of the U.S. as a furniture source. Priorities for competitive strategies for manufacturers in each source country are noted based on the findings.
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