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The Link between Sustainable Destination Image, Brand Globalness and Consumers’ Purchase Intention: A Moderated Mediation Model

Leonidas Hatzithomas
Christina Boutsouki
Fotini Theodorakioglou
1 and
Evanthia Papadopoulou
Department of Business Administration, University of Macedonia, Egnatia 156, P.C. 54636 Thessaloniki, Greece
University’s Campus, Department of Economics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, P.C. 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9584;
Submission received: 22 July 2021 / Revised: 20 August 2021 / Accepted: 23 August 2021 / Published: 25 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Advertising and Sustainable Development)


The present study investigates the effect of a tourism destination’s perceived sustainable image on the globalness of brands named after the destination and attests the mediating role of brand globalness on the relationship between destination image and purchase intention. A model that incorporates identification with local and global consumer culture as moderators of the relationship between brand globalness and purchase intention is proposed. A 2 (Destination: Santorini vs. Serres) × 2 (Product: tomato paste, yogurt) online experiment was designed through Prolific Academic for the purposes of the study. As Greece is a top destination among British tourists, a British audience was addressed, resulting in 425 participants. Britons with high identification with global consumer culture indicated higher purchase intentions for brands named after a sustainable destination. It also appears that a sustainable destination image is a critical factor in creating brand globalness and purchase intention for a brand named after this destination. Hence, destinations with a sustainable image can be used as a basis for the development of exports. An in-depth understanding of the international image of popular destinations will help indigenous companies create and maintain strong global brands. Significant implications for exporting companies are highlighted.

1. Introduction

The end of the financial crisis triggered structural reforms in Greece and, most importantly, the country’s gradual transformation from a “closed” consumption driven economy to an “open” export driven one. Despite the notable growth of exports since 2017, Greece remains a “closed economy” with a trade balance deficit of 21.71 billion euros and the export of goods (% of GDP) at a low 17% in 2018 [1]. Exports remain highly concentrated; only a small percentage of companies increased exporting activities despite the domestic economic recession [2]. Moreover, a significant proportion of Greek products are exported in bulk form, thus losing the potential for added value from packaging and, most importantly, branding [3]. Greek brands seem to lack strong image and a potential global awareness.
Economic growth directives recommend the development of strong global brands of Greek origin to gain significant shares in the international market. Tourism, on the other hand, is one of the most important and promising sectors in Greece and is a valuable source of income for the country’s economy. Over the past decades, Greece’s appeal as a global tourism destination grew, leading to a significant increase in tourist arrivals. Greece attracted as many as 27 million visitors in 2017 (an 89% increase from 2005), representing 27.3% of GDP [4,5].
To date, both the role of destination image in tourists’ shopping behavior and the importance of a brand’s country/place of origin for its commercial success have been extensively discussed. However, few studies have analyzed the effect of place image on tourists’ beliefs about the exported products named after a destination, but not produced in it [6,7]. Despite the lack of sufficient theoretical documentation, several companies have taken advantage of the high awareness of world-famous local destinations, giving their names to exported products not produced in these places. For instance, the Spanish company SEAT (Volkswagen Group) has named its cars after world famous Spanish islands such as Ibiza and Cordoba.
Hence, this study focuses on destination image, and in particular, sustainable destination image, and its role on brand globalness and purchase intention. A prior study by Almeida-Santana and Moreno-Gil (2019) [8] examined tourists’ perception of a destination as sustainable or not. The present study extends prior literature by measuring a destination’s sustainable image, incorporating elements such as cleanliness of the environment, natural beauty, and wildlife [6,9].
As more companies envision the world to be a global market, this study explores the synergies between tourism and exporting activities, and identifies marketing elements that can boost the development of brands globally. In particular, it looks into the purchase intention of Britons for brands named after Greek tourism destinations. An experiment tests (a) the effect of the perceived sustainable image of a tourism destination on the globalness of brands named after the destination, and (b) the mediating role of brand globalness on the relationship between sustainable destination image and purchase intention. The proposed model also incorporates identification with local and global consumer culture as moderators of the relationship between brand globalness and purchase intention (Figure 1).
Testing this model, the study provides several contributions to research and practice. First, introducing the sustainable image of a tourism destination as an antecedent of the globalness of brands named after the destination, it contributes to the scant empirical literature on sustainable destination image. A sustainable destination image can significantly increase the perceived globalness of a brand named after the destination and, in turn, increase consumers’ purchase intention for the brand. Second, we investigate the mediating effect of brand globalness on the relationship between sustainable destination image and purchase intention. Although a considerable amount of research has been devoted to the role of brand globalness [10], its mediating role in this relationship has not been investigated to date. Hence, the present study extends prior research in brand globalness in a significant direction. Third, the findings contribute to the research in the role of identification with global/local consumers’ culture. It appears that identification with global (but not local) consumer culture has a moderating role in the relationship between brand globalness and purchase intention. Fourth, the findings highlight implications for exporting companies and marketing practitioners responsible for the development and execution of international business strategies.

1.1. Literature Review and Hypotheses Development

1.1.1. Destination Image

A sustainable destination image expresses tourists’ perceptions of a destination as sustainable [8]; that is, their perceptions of the sustainable economic, cultural/social, and ecological development of the destination [11]. A sustainable destination image is the result of how tourists perceive messages conveyed by the destination (e.g., advertisements, interviews), mass media reports (e.g., news, documentaries) and social media conversations about the destination, products of popular culture (e.g., movies, music, television programs), personal sources (such as friends and family), and personal lived experiences related to the sustainable economic, social, and ecological development of the destination. Most cities and countries that have used sustainability as a brand positioning strategy have focused more on the environmental aspect, and, to a lesser extent, on social and economic sustainability [12]. Along the same lines, the present study focuses on the environmental aspect of a sustainable destination image.
In stark contrast to the voluminous literature on destination image [13], there is scant attention paid to sustainable destination image [14]. The review of the literature demonstrates that a sustainable destination image is determined by several antecedents, and, in turn, influences some outcomes. A destination’s environmental quality is vital to develop a distinct place image that appeals to a global audience [15]. Thus, policies that help maintain environmental quality, such as slow events, can create a sustainable destination image. Slow events are defined as “events that are designed, organized and implemented in an authentic and individual way to promote slower forms of life and enhance collaborative experiences. They offer regional services/products and (slow) food, are relatively small in size, minimize potential negative environmental impacts and leave a beneficial legacy for the host community and all stakeholders involved” [16] (p. 15). Slow destinations, in general, try to reconcile environmental and business aspects, satisfying both local people and tourists.
An antecedent of a sustainable destination image is also sustainable development. In general, destination image policies, such as positioning and promotion, are most effective when they are based on proper action. In other words, a sustainable destination image should be preceded by a sustainable development policy for the region. According to Campbell (1996) [17], sustainable development is located at the center of three fundamental aims of place planning: economic development, social equity, and environmental protection. Planners should deal with the conflicts between economic, social, and environmental interests by discovering and implementing complementary policies that can create unique tourist experiences and build a sustainable destination image. Sustainable tourism development, in particular, is considered to be a means of safeguarding environmental resources, respecting local culture and social development, and ensuring long-term economic gain on a global scale [18]. According to Kanokanga et al. (2019) [14], a sustainable destination image can significantly improve the sustainable economic performance of the destination’s tourism sector. The aforementioned analysis indicates that the construct of sustainable destination image has potential scientific importance; hence, further research is needed to clarify the effects of sustainable destination image on destination outcomes (e.g., tourism development and products sales).
A tourism destination is, in general, any type of place, such as nations, regions, countries, cities, or villages [19]. Tourism destinations comprise of cognitive, affective and personality components and can be seen as brands [20]. It is accepted that strong brands have a distinct image. According to Biel (1993, p. 71) [21], a brand image is “a cluster of attributes and associations that consumers connect to the brand name”. Therefore, famous tourism destinations also have distinct images [19]. In many cases, tourism destinations, such as cities, can be so powerful as brands that they overshadow the image and reputation of their country [22].
Destination image has been a popular topic in the tourism research literature [23]. Crompton (1979, p. 18) [24] conceptualized destination image as “the sum of beliefs, ideas, and impressions that a person has of a destination”. Thus, a destination’s image gauges consumers’ perceptions of that place. In this regard, destination image is considered as an umbrella construct for products associated with it [25]. Notably, image variables affect consumers’ perceptions of products through inferences made by consumers. For example, consumers who believe that German cars are durable might infer that an Audi car is durable because it is a German car [26]. Consumers may have favorable or unfavorable images about tourism destinations and these images tend to remain stable over time. Hence, even if dramatic changes regarding the attributes of a destination occur, the image of that destination is unlikely to change quickly [24].
The prior research underlines the need for tourism destinations to develop favorable images [23]. International marketing scholars e.g., [27,28] have analyzed the role and influence of a country as a tourism destination on consumers’ perceptions of, and preferences for, brands originating from that destination. In today’s globalized markets, destination image is acknowledged as a significant factor that accounts for bias in, and has a considerable impact on, consumer perceptions towards associated products, thus influencing their subsequent buying decisions [6,19]. People develop stereotypical perspectives about places, and this influences their perceptions and evaluations of the products associated with them [29] through meaning transfer, as originally discussed by McCracken (1989) [30]. In light of this approach, the image of a destination will be transferred to a brand that is named after that destination. Brand owners can benefit from the positive image consumers have about favorable destinations if they name their products after them [28,31].
In today’s global markets, companies take advantage of image enhancing effects, such as logos and brand names, to create a global perception that attracts consumers who prefer global to local brands [32]. Additionally, brand names are often used as indicators of quality [33]. A key construct introduced to capture global brand effects is perceived brand globalness [34], reflecting the extent to which consumers value that “the brand is marketed in multiple countries and is generally recognized as global in these countries” [35].
Global brands serve as powerful signals of self-identity, higher social prestige, and status [35,36], which are positively related to brand credibility, quality advantages [37,38,39], sustainability, and social responsibility [40]. Brand globalness is often viewed as a vehicle for providing consumers with a cosmopolitan, global identity (globalized lifestyle) and a sense of modernity [36,40]. It creates value in the minds of consumers that induces favorable brand evaluations and purchase intentions [39,41,42]. Companies pursue global branding strategies to achieve global awareness, facilitate access of new foreign markets and consumers, expand their market share, and increase their profitability. In this sense, an internationally recognized tourism destination could be a potential powerful image that enhances the perceived globalness of a brand named after the destination. Moreover, given that environmental sustainability is a global challenge and a global trend, it is expected that a sustainable destination image will positively influence the perceived globalness of a brand named after the destination. Hence, the following hypothesis is advanced:
Hypothesis 1 (H1).
Sustainable destination image has a positive effect on brand globalness for brands named after the destination.

1.1.2. Brand Globalness

Brand globalness refers to the geographical origin and scope of a brand [43]. It is a common perception that the presence of a brand with the same name in many countries, and its global recognition due to its correlation with a specific consumer culture, underlines its globalness, appreciation, prestige, low risk, and high quality, as well as environmental and social responsibility as core attributes [35,40,44,45,46]. Distinctive attributes such as name, symbols, logos, and also the perceived image of their place of origin, are transferrable to brands that share the same feature [47,48].
According to the Signaling Theory, consumers use a series of references (e.g., place of origin, price, brand) as information substitutes to infer the quality of a product and reduce the perceived risk [38,49]. A brand’s perceived globalness is an important cue of quality [39], a distinct feature weighed by consumers in the process of evaluating a brand [50], and can add or diminish value depending on the brand’s image of origin, product category, and consumer characteristics [39].
Brand globalness is not void of references to local cultures, either because the brand originates from a specific place, or because the company adopts positioning strategies that relate the brand to a specific local culture, traditions, desires, and needs [51]. A brand can be positioned with a local culture perspective, and yet be recognized as global (e.g., Italian pizza), if the brand is associated with local culture, customs, culinary tastes, and other signals of a global lifestyle [32]. The recognition of a brand’s globalness and its expected effects not only depends on a global or local position, but also on the simultaneous and individual effects of the company’s reputation, size, local or foreign origin, and familiarity [34].
Even in early studies, there is ample evidence that a brand’s globalness has an undeniably positive influence on its perceived quality [40]. The appeal of a global brand is based on three main sources that enhance the value consumers attribute to the brand: high perceived quality, high prestige, and perceived global benefits [35]. The globality of a brand adds a competitive advantage (not only in global markets but also in local markets) among consumer segments that identify with global consumer culture [42]. It amplifies its attractiveness, due to its link with prestige, fashion, innovation, cosmopolitanism, and technology [37,39], and also creates recognition, higher quality perception, and greater acceptance [52]. Ultimately, companies position their brands as global and seek to improve market intent, either by enhancing the impact of perceived brand globalness on consumer intent, or by stimulating the brand’s perceived value, creating correlations of status, quality, and innovation [52].
Today, many multinational companies are enriching their product portfolio with globally recognizable brands that consumers seem to prefer over their local competitors, even if their quality and value are not “objectively” superior [35]. As Ger (1999, p. 71) [51] observes, “local culture is the most accessible, yet the least utilized resource for local firms”, even though local brands can convincingly build an image with innovative local culture associations. Nevertheless, consumers in developing countries prefer global brands as a means of identifying with a global consumer community and as a symbol of their status [38,42]. Consequently, the perceived globalness of a brand strengthens consumer intentions and leads to increased purchases [53]. Sichtmann and Diamantopoulos (2013) [38], however, argue that brand globalness may have less impact on consumer decision-making, compared to the brand’s origin, when the latter is associated with positive cues. The influence of brand globalness depends on whether it competes with local or other global brands. Local brands can have a global presence (e.g., brandy METAXA) and can adopt global positioning strategies, utilizing the signals and symbolisms of the local culture, in an effort to confront global competition [39]. A brand’s globalness can increase or decrease its value, depending on the place of origin and product category, as well as consumer attitudes and dispositions [54]. Brand globalness may be a distinct attribute of brand preference. Consumers desire to belong in communities, and use globalness as a symbol of virtual identity that helps them communicate with others embracing the same dispositions [39,55].
Brand origins have also been reported to impact consumers’ evaluations and purchase intentions e.g., [38]. Consumers’ dispositions, such as ethnocentrism, and global or local consumer culture, seem to be significantly influential alongside perceived brand globalness and consumers’ brand preference. However, their predictability regarding consumers’ purchasing behavior is rather low [34]. Swoboda et al., 2012 [56], based on the accessibility–diagnosticity theory [57], argued that consumers recall associations of globalness or localness, and that these associations could become diagnostic criteria. Hence, the perceived globalness of a brand affects consumers with a global identity more positively than those with a local orientation.
A brand can imply a “global presence”, even if it is not available worldwide, by means of its advertising, packaging, and symbols widely associated with the “modern” way of life (e.g., names of global destinations) [58]. They build a global brand image that positively affects consumer ratings [45] and increases their purchasing intentions [35]. When consumers perceive a brand as global, not only are they willing to purchase it because of its quality, but they are also willing to pay more, because of its prestige [41]. Perceived brand globalness and localness have a positive effect on brand attitude and, eventually, a strong impact on purchase intentions, whereas country of origin and perceived brand globalness and localness seem to affect consumer behavior [59]. Emphasizing brand globalness, reducing the perceived risk, and investing in marketing activities that promote quality cues are beneficial for both the global and local brands, because they augment perceptions of quality and eventually increase purchase intentions [39]. Hence, brand managers should highlight global brand symbols, positioning their brands with logos that enhance their global culture, as it facilitates their evaluation during decision making [54]. According to Information Integration Theory, consumers evaluate each attribute of a brand, and ascribe a specific judgement weight and quality rating to each one [60]. For example, if a global brand bearing the name of a destination conveys strong quality signals and attracts a larger judgment weight, this results in a lower judgment weight for the brand origin attribute during purchase [61]. Hence, the globalness of a brand seems to enhance consumers’ purchase intentions and actual behavior. Based on the above, the following research hypotheses are formed:
Hypothesis 2 (H2).
Brand globalness has a positive effect on consumers’ purchase intention.
Hypothesis 3 (H3).
Brand globalness mediates the relationship between destination image and purchase intention.

1.1.3. The Role of Identification with Global/Local Consumer Culture

The globalization of markets, the adoption of global production and marketing methods, global investments, the growth of leisure travelling, and, in recent decades, the development of social media are important factors that affect the lifestyle and behaviors of consumers [34,62]. Consequently, consumers tend to acquire and exhibit different social identities (i.e., identification with global/local consumer culture), and identify themselves as part of a local or a global community [63,64]. The recognition of consumer identity as local or global was introduced to the scientific community by psychologist Arnett (2002) [65], to communicate the psychological implications of globalization. A consumer that identifies with local consumer culture is loyal to the local customs and traditions, consumes brands that are produced in his/her country, and rejects any influence perceived as global. A consumer that identifies with global consumer culture supports globalization, is influenced by mass advertising, and believes that the acquisition of a global brand enhances his/her personal status; that is, a global citizen who embraces a modern lifestyle and identifies with a global consumer community [32,34,63,66]. There are three main components that define culture: language used to promote a brand (foreign or local), aesthetics (images, designs, symbols, celebrities in adverts related to a global or local lifestyle) and stories (consumers make correlations based on the script of an advertisement) [32]. Prior research suggests that consumer adopted identities (global/local) can also affect their attitudes and behaviors toward global brands [67], and function as potential segmentation variables [54]. Consumers’ cultural identities represent an orientation, where an identification with global consumer culture is an identification with “humankind as a whole”, while identification with local consumer culture suggests “the individuals’ psychological investment in the national community” [68] (p. 3). Individuals shape global or local identities and selectively decode information and symbols in ways that are consistent with their personal characteristics. Brand managers seek to benefit from media, positioning their brands as symbolic of a global consumer culture [66], and their goal is for consumers to recognize the brand as a symbol (real or imaginary) of the global market. On the other hand, local culture significantly influences consumer decisions and attitudes [34,35,62], particularly when global fashion fades [69] and local companies “take advantage” of local cultural references in targeting and branding [51]. Global and local consumer culture strategies can be simultaneously applied to a brand, as some brands may be placed within a local culture perspective in one market and a global consumer culture strategy in another [32].
Based on self-verification theory [70], which posits that consumers’ attitudes and behaviors confirm their global or local orientation [68], it is suggested that consumers’ dispositions tend to influence the nature, outcome, and interpretations of their social interactions. Identification with a global or local community shapes an individual’s identity and advocates that individuals either recognize themselves as part of a global whole or as part of the local community, thus influencing their evaluations and predispositions to purchase local or global brands [64]. The adoption of a global or local consumer culture may lead them to develop a more favorable attitude toward a brand in line with their global or local self-orientation (Lin 2010). Consumers prefer brands that are consistent with their identity (global or local) and, although these identities may not be mutually exclusive, consumers are usually drawn in one direction or another [64,65].
Consumers view global brands as symbols of a hypothetical global community with which they identify [54,71], provided that they have friendly attitudes toward globalization [72].
Attitude theories [73,74] explain how people’s pre-existing attitudes toward a particular object (e.g., global brand, globalization), are influenced by a reference group with which they identify. The perception of behavior control affects their intention and, ultimately, their behavior toward the object. A positive attitude toward a global brand influences consumers to acquire the brand and to be consistent with the reference group as a signal of identity commitment [72]. Global brands usually appeal to individuals that identify with global consumer culture [32], as they are prone to experience different consumption habits from various destinations, express a global life image, feel like citizens of the world, and identify with a global consumer community [34,54]. Consumers’ culture disposition (towards global/local consumer culture) impacts global brand purchase intention [42,64], only when they identify with the global brand.
According to Social Identity Theory [75], individuals categorize people as members of a group, and then form expectations based on their perceptions of what their attitudes and behaviors will be. Riefler (2012) [42] identified two distinct groups of consumers: those who support globalization and have a positive reaction to global brand symbols, and those who do not support it and react unfavorably.
Consumers who adopt a global consumer culture often have a more positive attitude towards the symbols/brands that are associated with their reference group, and are, therefore, expected to express a greater purchase intention. On the other hand, consumers with a positive attitude toward local symbols/brands will be negatively attached to a global brand, as its symbolism is not compatible with their beliefs [67]. Prior studies suggest that consumers who identify with global consumer culture are receptive to global consumer positioning strategies and prefer global brands. Therefore, companies should apply appropriate positioning strategies and establish associations with symbols that indicate globality [66]. Consumers who adopt local identity are attracted by local products, and the higher their identification with local consumer culture is, the lesser their preference for global brands will be [63]. Hence, consumers who identify with the global (local) community, and with global (local) consumer culture will prefer global (local) brands, to embrace the community norm [54]. The following hypothesis is formulated:
Hypothesis 4 (H4).
The relationship between brand globalness and purchase intention is (a) negatively affected by the degree to which consumers identify with local consumer culture and (b) positively affected by the degree to which they identify with global consumer culture.

2. Methodology

2.1. Stimulus Materials

To test the proposed hypotheses, a print advertisement was designed in four versions: “Santorini” yogurt, “Santorini” tomato paste, “Serres” yogurt, and “Serres” tomato paste (Figure 2). The advertising background pictures remained identical across all versions and only the brand name (Santorini vs. Serres) varied. Tomato paste and yogurt were chosen because they represent product categories that are gaining considerable ground among Greek exports, with yogurt being one of the most popular exported Greek products. Tomato paste and yogurt are strongly linked with their specific places of origin: tomatoes with Santorini and yogurt with Serres. Santorini and Serres were chosen as the two destinations, as they have unique characteristics that comply with the purpose of the study; Santorini is a renowned Greek Island, a seaside resort famous for its active volcano and unparallel natural beauty, while Serres is a Greek regional city with no distinct characteristics and limited tourism growth.

2.2. Research Procedure

The experiment was carried out through Prolific Academic (, accessed on 12 July 2021) [76], an online crowdsourcing site for academic studies. It is of UK origin and is widely used by prestigious universities such as Oxford University, Harvard, and Stanford. Over 20,000 Britons are enrolled on the platform as potential participants in scientific studies. Britons are, at the same time, a significant proportion of the tourist influx in Greece. In 2018, visits from Great Britain to Greece amounted to 2.9 million (10% of the total number of visitors in the country) [5]. Greece is sixth in the list of global tourism destinations among British tourists, drawn by the sea and sun of “Destination Greece” [4]. A 2 (Destination: Santorini vs. Serres) × 2 (Product: tomato paste, yogurt) online experiment was designed for the purposes of the study. A total of 425 British respondents (between 18 and 65 years old, 68.7% men, 74.4% with income over £20.000, and 84.7% with at least a college degree) participated in the study. Over half (52.2%) of the participants had previously traveled to a Greek destination and 7.3% of them had visited Santorini or Serres.
Participants were randomly assigned to the four treatment groups: 135 were exposed to the advertisement presenting “Santorini” yogurt, 120 to the advertisement of “Santorini” tomato paste, 87 to the advertisement presenting “Serres” yogurt, and 83 to the advertisement of “Serres” tomato paste. They were asked to watch the advertisement for at least 15 s on their computer screen and to respond to a structured questionnaire on brand globalness and their purchase intentions. They further rated the sustainable image of Santorini (or Serres) and provided their level of identification with the global or national orientation.

2.3. Measures

The questionnaire (Table 1) measured sustainable destination image (5 items, Cronbach’s Alpha: 0.907) [6], brand globalness (3 items, Cronbach’s Alpha: 0.782) [35,38], purchase intention (3 items, Cronbach’s Alpha: 0.908) [42], identification with global (5 items, Cronbach’s Alpha: 0.838), and local consumer culture (8 items, Cronbach’s Alpha: 0.908) [68,77]. Data were analyzed through SPSS Statistics 25.0 and PROCESS macro for SPSS [78].

3. Results

A MANOVA (Table 2) was conducted to evaluate the extent to which the two destinations (Santorini and Serres) and the two products (tomato paste and yogurt) evoked similar results. A 2 × 2 MANOVA examined if sustainable destination image, brand globalness, and purchase intention varied in the four different versions of the advertisement: “Santorini” tomato paste, “Santorini” yogurt, “Serres” tomato paste, and “Serres” yogurt. MANOVA assumptions were tested for multivariate normality, and homogeneity of covariance matrices across groups. Given that our sample is sufficiently large (over 20 participants for each dependent × independent variable combination), the Multivariate Central Limit Theorem holds. Hence, we can assume the multivariate normality. With respect to the homogeneity of covariance matrices assumption, the significance value of the Box’s M test statistic is marginally over 0.05 (i.e., 0.051), suggesting that this condition is marginally met, and the model results are not dubious. Additional checks of the diagonals of the covariance matrices, (Levene’s tests) were performed, since the Box’s M test statistic result was borderline statistically non-significant. Individual tests were conducted for each dependent variable. The significance values for both sustainable destination image and brand globalness are greater than 0.05 (p = 0.12 and p = 0.2, respectively); thus, the equal variances assumption is not disrupted for these variables. Alternatively, the significance value for the test of purchase intention is less than 0.05, showing that the assumption is breached, and further comparative nonparametric results (i.e., Mann–Whitney) are presented for purchase intention.
The significant main effects of the destination (F = 48.2, p < 0.001, Wilks Lambda = 0.74), product (F = 3.76, p < 0.05, Wilks Lambda = 0.97), and their interaction (F = 2.71, p < 0.05, Wilks Lambda = 0.98) were recorded. There is a significant statistical effect of destination on sustainable destination image (F = 121.99, p < 0.001), brand globalness (F = 43.85, p < 0.001), and purchase intention (F = 17.37, p < 0.001; Mann–Whitney U = 16,880.00, p < 0.01). As was expected, Santorini increased all three dependent variables, indicating a successful manipulation. As Santorini is a popular tourist resort, it was assumed and proved that “Santorini” will generate more positive reactions than “Serres” as a brand name. The differences between Santorini and Serres enabled the testing of the study’s hypotheses. The only significant univariate effect of the product was in brand globalness (F = 6.37, p < 0.05). The Greek yogurt was considered to be more global than the Greek tomato paste. Indeed, Greek yogurt is popular in the global market, and the term “Greek yogurt” is a protected designation of origin within the European Union. Two product categories were used to provide greater validation for the generalizability of the study’s findings. The main effect of the product category on brand globalness posed no problem for the experiment. On the contrary, it indicated that the two product categories are different, and reinforced the generalizability of our findings.
To test the research hypotheses, a moderated mediation analysis with PROCESS macro model 16 (Hayes, 2013) was conducted (Table 3). Purchase intention was used as the dependent variable, sustainable destination image as the independent variable, brand globalness as a mediating factor, and identification with local and global consumer culture as moderating factors. In terms of the effects of sustainable destination image on brand globalness for brands named after the destination, the study indicated a direct positive impact on brand globalness (beta = 0.35, se = 0.05, t = 6.77, p < 0.001), thus supporting the first hypothesis (H1). The results did not indicate a positive impact of brand globalness on consumers’ purchase intention (beta = −0.08, se = 0.15, t = −0.16, p = 0.59) and, thus, hypothesis H2 is not supported. The mediation of brand globalness on the relationship between the destination image and purchase intention was found to be positive and significant (BootLLCI = 0.002, BootULCI = 0.046), in only those reporting a high identification with global consumer culture (beta = 0.07, se = 0.03, t = 2.26, p = 0.025). Hence H3 is partially supported, whereas H4(b) is fully supported. In other words, the findings showed that brand globalness exerts a positive effect on purchase intention, and mediates the relationship between sustainable destination image and purchase intention only when the advertising audience has a high identification with global consumer culture. Finally, it appears that identification with local consumer culture does not have a moderating effect on the relationship between brand globalness and purchase intention (beta = 0.02, se = 0.03, t = 0.75, p = 0.45), indicating that H4(a) is not supported.

4. Conclusions and Managerial Implications

The present study extends the literature on the country/place of origin [79], highlighting the impact of the image of a globally recognizable destination on consumers’ intention to purchase a brand named after the destination, irrespective of its place of production. The results indicate that the name of a popular destination (e.g., Santorini) can increase brand globalness and purchase intention when it is used as a brand name. It is not necessary for the product to use the name of the place it is produced or designed to increase brand globalness and purchase intention. The brand name “Santorini” (i.e., a popular destination) exerts a more positive effect on brand globalness and purchase intention compared to the brand name “Serres” (i.e., a relatively unknown destination), even when the advertised brand (yogurt), is not produced in Santorini. Extending Roth and Diamantopoulos’ (2009) [27] research on the image of countries, regions, and cities, this study considers destinations in terms of their potentially powerful image that can be used to promote the country’s exports. A sustainable destination image seems to be a critical factor in creating brand globalness and purchase intention for a brand named after the destination. A strong sustainable destination image is an asset for any business generating income by naming their brands after the destination.
Additionally, this study contributes to the brand globalness literature, analyzing the effects of destination image on brand globalness and consumers’ purchase intention for brands named after that destination. The literature review demonstrates that brand globalness is determined by several antecedents, and, in turn, influences a wide range of brand outcomes [80]. Our results show that a sustainable destination image is an antecedent of brand globalness and confirm prior studies [81], indicating that brand globalness positively influences purchase intention. However, brand globalness has a statistically positive effect on purchase intention, and a mediating effect on the relationship between sustainable destination image and purchase intention only when consumers highly identify with global consumer culture. In all other cases, brand globalness does not exert a statistically significant effect on purchase intention. This finding supports a prior stream of research [10] indicating that brand globalness is not always beneficial for brands. Similarly, prior studies underlined that situational factors (e.g., the extent of market globalization) [10] and consumer dispositions (e.g., ethnocentrism) [81] can moderate the effects of brand globalness on brand effectiveness. The present study contributes to this ongoing discussion on the moderating role of consumer dispositions on the effect of globalness on positive brand responses, highlighting the role of identification with global consumer culture.
Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that connects sustainable destination image to brand globalness. It offers a novel way of thinking about brand naming and reveals how a brand can gain a global perspective. A sustainable destination image can create the perception of widespread market reach while providing global symbolism for the brand. Prior studies [45,56] have focused on the role of place of origin, although they have not discussed the use of a sustainable destination that is not related to the place of product production, or design, as a brand name. Specifically, the present study shows that, even though yogurt is not produced in Santorini, the brand name “Santorini” can increase the brand globalness of yogurt products.
The study also contributes to the discussion on identification with local/global consumer culture, assessing their roles in the relationship between brand globalness and consumer’s purchase intention. It appears that there is a moderating impact of identification with global consumer culture on the association between brand globalness and purchase intention. On the other hand, identification with local consumer culture has no moderating effect on the above relationship. This finding can be attributed to the fact that identification with global consumer culture and identification with local consumer culture may not be mutually exclusive. Indeed, Riefler et al. (2012) [42] found that there is a consumer segment that simultaneously demonstrates the highest levels of local orientation and cosmopolitanism (i.e., the tendency to immerse yourself in other cultures). In a similar vein, Okazaki et al. (2019) [82] indicated that consumer ethnocentrism is positively related to cosmopolitanism. Hence, the positive moderating effect of identification with global consumer culture on the relationship between brand globalness and purchase intention does not imply a negative moderating effect of identification with local consumer culture on the same relationship.
From a managerial perspective, the study helps marketers to identify the elements that enhance brand globalness. Marketers should take into consideration the sustainable destination as a factor that enhances brand globalness and, in turn, purchase intention, when the brand is named after the destination. This is a successful strategy, particularly when the brand targets consumers with a global identity.
From a local perspective, the study contributes to the call for the country’s export development to introduce Greek tourism destinations (e.g., Santorini) as potential powerful brands that can be used to promote Greek products into the global market. It connects a country’s exports (i.e., Greece) to tourism development. As tourism is an important contributor in the Greek economy, reaching EUR 14 billion in revenue, 27 million arrivals, and 209 million overnight stays during 2017 [4], this is highly significant. At the same time, there are serious indications that the Greek economy may enter a new growth trajectory, based on new investments and extroversion. In this context, studying the ways in which a strong tourism industry in Greece can contribute to the development of its feeble exports is considered timely and relevant.
Contrary to the classical approach, the present study did not focus on the contribution of Greek tradition to the increase in exports, but, instead, on Greek destinations (such as Santorini) with a sustainable destination image that can be used as a basis for the development of Greek exports. An in-depth understanding of the international image of popular Greek destinations will help indigenous companies create, and maintain, strong global brands and avoid misplaced actions [22]. For instance, Santorini, with a population of 15,500, receives approximately 1.5 million tourists a year. Santorini’s inhabitants work in the tourism sector and unemployment is low. Santorini has a unique natural environment and ecosystem, an active volcano, traditional vineyards, and rich underwater marine life. It is a Greek island with a differentiated sustainable image and high brand recognition that can boost the exports of Greek products. As the present study focuses on perceived sustainable destination image and not on the actual qualities of the destination, it should be noted that, over the last few years, Santorini has faced problems of over-tourism exploitation; yet, it retains a sustainable destination image. Marine-Roig and Ferrer-Rosell (2018) [83] suggest that the perceived images of a destination are often significantly different from the projected images. Thus, future research can investigate the differential effects of perceived and projected destination image on brand globalness and purchase intention. Future research endeavors can also consider the smart tourism applications that significantly influence a destination’s image and tourists’ behavioral intention [84].
The present study is not without limitations. It is culture and context specific (i.e., British audience) as it does not compare perspectives from different cultures on the globalness of Greek brands named after specific destinations. It would be interesting to cross-culturally validate the findings of this study, and review more destinations and product categories to improve generalizability. An additional limitation is that the study focuses only on the environmental aspect of sustainable destination image and not on the economic and social aspects. Future research should shed light on the role of these important aspects of sustainable destination image on brand globalness and purchase intention.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, L.H. and C.B.; methodology, L.H.; software, E.P.; validation, F.T. and E.P.; formal analysis, L.H.; investigation, F.T.; resources, E.P.; data curation, L.H.; writing—original draft preparation, F.T., E.P. and L.H.; writing—review and editing, C.B.; visualization, F.T.; supervision, L.H.; project administration, L.H.; funding acquisition, F.T. and E.P. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research is co-financed by Greece and the European Union (European Social Fund- ESF) through the Operational Programme (Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning 2014–2020) in the context of the project “Famous Greek destinations as a mechanism of export growth” (MIS 5047259). Sustainability 13 09584 i001

Institutional Review Board Statement

Ethical review and approval were waived for this study, due to the characteristics of the survey the institution considered it not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to their containing information that could compromise the privacy of research participants.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. The conceptual model of the study.
Figure 1. The conceptual model of the study.
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Figure 2. Stimulus Materials.
Figure 2. Stimulus Materials.
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Table 1. Measurement scales, Means, Standard Deviations and Cronbach’s alphas.
Table 1. Measurement scales, Means, Standard Deviations and Cronbach’s alphas.
Sustainable Destination Image (Bowe, 2013) 0.907
1. Santorini/Serres has natural scenic beauty4.621.75
2. Santorini/Serres has beautiful seasides and beaches4.511.78
3. Santorini/Serres has unique environments to explore4.521.66
4. Santorini/Serres has unique wildlife3.761.37
5. Santorini/Serres has a clean environment4.411.35
Brand Globalness (Steenkamp, 2003) 0.782
1. To me, “Santorini”/“Serres” yogurt/tomato paste is a local/global brand4.271.88
2. I don’t think consumers overseas buy this brand/think consumers abroad buy this brand4.181.81
3. This brand is sold only in Greece/This brand is sold all over the world4.361.77
Purchase Intention (Riefler 2012) 0.908
1. The next time that I buy [yogurt/tomato paste], I will choose [“Santorini”/“Serres” yogurt/tomato paste].2.511.52
2. I will consider [“Santorini”/“Serres” yogurt/tomato paste] for my next purchase.3.131.79
3. It is very likely that I will buy [“Santorini”/“Serres” yogurt/tomato paste] in the future.2.851.68
Global Identification (Der-Karabetian and Ruiz 1997) 0.838
1. I feel like I’m living in a global village.3.21.85
2. I feel what I do could touch someone all around the world.3.281.78
3. I feel like I am ‘next door neighbors’ with people living in other parts of the world.3.01.83
4. I feel that I am related to everyone in the world as if they were my family.2.431.61
5. I feel that people around the world are more similar than dissimilar.4.441.73
Local Identification (Der-Karabetian and Ruiz 1997) 0.908
1. Being a Briton plays an important part in my life.4.151.74
2. Nowadays, I consider being a Briton a special privilege.3.561.83
3. My destiny is closely connected to the destiny of the United Kingdom.3.911.87
4. I see my future closely tied to the future of humankind in the United Kingdom.4.11.76
5. My fate and future are bound with that of the British people.3.931.83
6. One of my most important duties as a Briton is loyalty to the United Kingdom.3.361.9
7. If a stranger were to meet me and mistake me for a non-Briton, I would correct their mistake, and tell them that I am a Briton.4.261.89
8. If I were to be born all over again, I would wish to be born a Briton.4.281.81
Table 2. The 2 Destination (“Santorini” vs. “Serres”) × 2 Product (yogurt vs. tomato paste) factorial multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) tests for sustainable destination image, brand globalness, and purchase intention (n = 425).
Table 2. The 2 Destination (“Santorini” vs. “Serres”) × 2 Product (yogurt vs. tomato paste) factorial multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) tests for sustainable destination image, brand globalness, and purchase intention (n = 425).
FactorsMultivariate TestsSustainable Destination ImageBrand
Wilks’ LambdaFHypo
Error dfpFdfpFdfpFdfp
Destination × Product0.982.7234190.0440.50810.4766.3710.0123.7610.053
Table 3. Moderated mediation analysis of sustainable destination image on purchase intention.
Table 3. Moderated mediation analysis of sustainable destination image on purchase intention.
βp-Value95% CI
Outcome variable: Brand Globalness
Constant2.74<0.001[2.277, 3.206]
Sustainable Destination Image (SDI)0.35<0.001[0.2483, 0.4515]
Outcome variable: Purchase Intention
Constant1.44<0.05[0.0891, 2.791]
SDI0.09n.s.[−0.019, 0.189]
Brand Globalness (BG)−0.08n.s.[−0.366, 0.208]
Identification with Global Consumer Culture (IGCC)−0.02n.s.[−0.297, 0.252]
Identification with Local Consumer Culture (ILCC)0.02n.s.[−0.269, 0.304]
BG × IGCC0.07<0.05[0.009, 0.126]
BG × ILCC0.02n.s.[−0.038, 0.085]
Direct Effect of Sustainable Destination Image on Purchase Intention:
0.09n.s.[−0.019, 0.189]
Indices of partial moderated mediation:IndexBootSE[BootLLCI, BootULCI]
0.020.011[0.002, 0.046]
0.0080.013[−0.017, 0.034]
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Hatzithomas, L.; Boutsouki, C.; Theodorakioglou, F.; Papadopoulou, E. The Link between Sustainable Destination Image, Brand Globalness and Consumers’ Purchase Intention: A Moderated Mediation Model. Sustainability 2021, 13, 9584.

AMA Style

Hatzithomas L, Boutsouki C, Theodorakioglou F, Papadopoulou E. The Link between Sustainable Destination Image, Brand Globalness and Consumers’ Purchase Intention: A Moderated Mediation Model. Sustainability. 2021; 13(17):9584.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hatzithomas, Leonidas, Christina Boutsouki, Fotini Theodorakioglou, and Evanthia Papadopoulou. 2021. "The Link between Sustainable Destination Image, Brand Globalness and Consumers’ Purchase Intention: A Moderated Mediation Model" Sustainability 13, no. 17: 9584.

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