In the era of globalization, manufacturing processes are no longer confined to a single country. As a result, it is often challenging for consumers to know the true origin of the products that they buy. At the same time, a product’s country-of-origin can have significant influence on consumers’ perceptions of the products. Swiss products present an exceptionally good reputation around the world; consumers perceive Swiss products as highly reliable and with very high quality. In fact, stating their “Swiss origin” induces substantial economic value for the producers; products can be marked up by at least 20% 1 with the “Switzerland” country-of-origin label alone. Essentially, the “Swiss” origin acts as a brand on its own. As a result, the “Swiss” brand has attracted increasing number of “free-riders” and instances of wrongful uses. The Swiss officials are concerned about the potential damages that such wrongful uses can bring to the “Switzerland” brand. The deceptive usages of the “Switzerland” brand may mislead consumers and cause them to lose confidence to all other Swiss products; hence damaging the value of the “Switzerland” brand as a whole. As a result, the Federal Council of Switzerland proposed the Swissness Bill in an attempt to promote and strengthen the protection the “Swiss” brand. In this essay, I will explain why the Swissness Bill was proposed under globalization and the impacts of the Bill on local producers and consumers.
2. Why was the Swissness Bill proposed under globalization?
Stephan Feige, Benita Brockdorff, Karsten Sausen, Peter Mathias Fischer, Urs Jaermann, Sven Reinecke, 2008. Swissness Worldwide – International Study on the Perception of the Brand Switzerland, University of St. Gallen.
In this section, I will first analyze the “Switzerland” brand itself to explain why a brand, which is essentially just a country-of-origin label, requires protection. Secondly, I will explain how globalization addresses the need of such protection by looking at the influences from contemporary global production networks. Thirdly, I shall look at the current situation of statutory rules concerning the protection of “Switzerland” designations to explain the necessity of the Swissness Bill. 2.1 “Swissness”- the “Switzerland” Brand The term “Swissness” has been used widely in anything that is typically Swiss since the late 1990s. In essence, the term refers to the application of Switzerland as a brand to Swiss products 2 . By applying “Swissness” to one’s brand, the positive attributes associated with Switzerland- such as efficiency, exclusivity, high quality, precision and reliability- can be transferred to the brand; this is commonly referred to as co-branding 2. Essentially, the Switzerland brand is a nation brand. Like all other nation brands, it is a common property. Unlike other ordinary product brands, it does not have a brand owner who can manage the brand. Ideally, a brand should provide consistent values across its products to generate a homogenous identity. However, the values that the “Switzerland” brand delivers can be rather inconsistent as it is a common property that can essentially be used by anyone. The management of the Switzerland brand is essentially carried out by all the brands which present themselves as Swiss. The activities and actions that these brands conduct can directly affect the Switzerland brand- if these actions are inconsistent with the values of the “Switzerland” brand, they can potentially weaken the brand. To avoid such
Regine Wieder & Veronika Hübl, 2012. What is Swissness?. School of Management and Law, Zurich University.
inconsistencies, it is crucial for the Swiss officials to take actions to coordinate and manage the “Switzerland” brand.
2.2 Global Production Network Consumers are willing to pay premiums for the “Switzerland” country-oforigin label because of the positive attributes associated with conventional Swiss...
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