The Placebo Effect in Marketing: the Ability of Country of Origin to Modify Product Performance
The placebo effect was first noted in studies in the areas of clinical medicine and pharmacology, and basically consists of the ability of inert products to produce effects because of the user’s belief in their efficacy. Stereotypes due to the country of origin of products is a global phenomenon, in which goods from countries with negative stereotypes are perceived as having worse quality in relation to products from countries with positive reputations. This study analyzed the occurrence of this effect for an energy drink, based on an experiment among 105 university students, by measuring the variations in mental acuity and reasoning speed after drinking products supposedly originating from different countries. The results indicated that the origin from a country with a negative stereotype regarding product quality can generate a negative placebo effect. In other words, the subjects who drank the beverage thinking it was from China performed worse that the participants of the control group, who thought the drink came from Germany. However, we did not identify a positive placebo affect of that country of origin.