José Rojas-Méndez is not only a visionary in the field of nation brand personality and consumer behaviour, but he is also one of few researchers in the world committed to helping developing countries build a stronger representation in the world marketplace by improving their nation brand.
Moreover, he recognizes a growing need to foster higher learning and research exposure in Latin America. He has created a comprehensive workshop program in various Latin American countries that trains and mentors academics and faculty in the skills of writing academic papers to improve global exposure and advancement of their research. Rojas- Méndez has clearly made a mark in his field and is also recognized as one of the most distinguished professors in Chile.
Rojas-Méndez’s research program combines consumer behaviour and international marketing with three main interconnecting constructs—nation brand personality in transitioning and developing countries; country wine personality; and understanding and measuring xenocentrism of consumers and employees in developing countries. Rojas-Méndez travels around the world to carry out his research and has collected data from over 32 countries in many different languages and cultures. Rojas-Méndez recognizes that culture has a direct impact on consumer behaviour because it shapes how individuals establish viewpoints. He works together with researchers in sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics, country development, and business to fully understand and apply his research findings.
Much of the research around nation brand is limited to developed countries, but many of these principles and constructs simply do not apply to developing countries. Coming from a developing country himself, Rojas-Méndez recognized the scarcity of quality research that comprehensively explains consumer behaviour in emerging countries, so he has taken the concept of nation brand personality into Latin America, China, and Africa, where they have not yet adopted this marketing strategy to improve their global profile. A strong nation brand is essential for countries, cities, or regions to distinguish themselves and establish a unique, favourable identity to gain a competitive advantage in the global market.
Nation brand personality adds the psychological construct to branding and Rojas-Méndez’s early work has shown there is a trend toward consumers associating countries with human personality traits. Through his research he has developed scales to effectively measure brand personality and how brand personality of a location affects the intention to behave towards those places—such as willingness to be a tourist, buy a product, to live, work, or study there. He looks at how to measure nation brand personality under the assumption that people see countries, or places, as individuals and therefore will attribute a place with the same characteristics that are common to people. For example, “this is a friendly country” or “this is a vibrant city.” His findings are shedding new light onto brand personality dimensions that have an impact on intentions and behaviours of individuals toward a country; and depending on how a country is associated with a particular personality, the country (or region) can use this data to enrich economic factors, such as tourism, product consumption, immigration, and their overall global profile.
Rojas-Méndez continues to blaze trails, and his most recent research projects are no exception. Rojas-Méndez recognized an old construct but within a new framework—the phenomenon of xenocentrism in developing and transitioning nations. His research program has him and his PhD student working on studies to highlight the causes and moderating factors, and the consequences of xenocentrism. Xenocentrism, simply, means excessive admiration for anything foreign and at the same time, rejection of whatever is domestic. Through his research, Rojas-Méndez has demonstrated that xenocentrism has to do with individuals’ positive attitudes towards foreign cultures and negative attitudes towards one’s own culture in terms of social behaviours; that consumers in developing countries prefer anything foreign to the comparable domestic product or service because it is perceived as giving one greater status. He has developed a novel, highly effective scale, called X-Scale, that is reliable, valid, and multidimensional to define consumer preferences, which developing countries can use to identify potential markets for business expansion at a global level.
Rojas-Méndez has had a unique and perhaps serendipitous academic journey, which all began in Chile. He earned his undergraduate degree in Accounting and Auditing from the Universidad de Talca and subsequently worked as an accountant in Chile for some years. The course of his academic, and perhaps personal, life took a detour when he met Sadrudin Ahmed, a marketing professor from the University of Ottawa, who opened the doors to the world of marketing, and who became an influential and life-long mentor. Ahmed convinced him that Ottawa was the “best place in the world,” and perhaps it was, because Rojas-Méndez not only received his MBA from the University of Ottawa, but it was during this program that he met his wife Vilma. A testament to his intellectual acumen, he received a prestigious and coveted scholarship from the government of Chile to do his MBA, as well as his PhD in Marketing at the University of Manchester in England. Following his studies, Rojas-Méndez and family moved back to Chile where he was appointed Dean for the School of Business at Universidad de Talca. During this time, he was invited as a visiting researcher to Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business for three months. It was during this time that he knew that Carleton and Ottawa would be a great fit for him and his family. Although he maintains a strong affiliation with the Universidad de Talca, it is Canada— Ottawa—perhaps due to a bit of nostalgia for the “best place in the world”, that he and his family now call home.
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