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Survey: world willing to pay more for ‘Swissness'

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Survey: world willing to pay more for ‘Swissness'
Photo: Rolf Krahl/Christophe G
11:02 CEST+02:00
Products labelled ‘Made in Switzerland' bring in at least 5.8 billion annually to the country and that figure could be conservative, a leading researcher has said.

Dr Stephan Feige, from the Institute of Marketing at the University of St Gallen, led a team of researchers on the Swissness Worldwide 2016 study, which interviewed 7,914 people from 15 countries about their perception of the quality of products from particular countries.

It found that people all over the world are willing to pay up to 100 percent more for a Swiss product.

Between 52 and 89 percent of global respondents would choose a Swiss product over a same-priced product of unknown origin, found the survey.

What's more, global consumers will pay more than 100 percent more for a Swiss luxury watch, over 50 percent more for Swiss cheese and cosmetics and seven percent more for a skiing holiday in Switzerland.

The biggest fans of Switzerland are China, Brazil, India and Russia, where Swiss products can command on average 40 percent higher prices than non-Swiss brands, said the survey.

Swiss products are equally prized on home soil, with 43 percent of the population being “Swissness-savvy”.

Based on the results of this year's survey, which was first conducted in 2008, the Swiss government has estimated ‘Swissness' to be worth upwards of 5.8 billion francs, said Feige.

But speaking to The Local, he said: “We have the impression that this figure might be way too low. I think it would be more in the two digit billion Swiss francs.”

It's not all good news, however.

After topping the rankings in all three previous reputation surveys, for the first time this year Switzerland was bumped into second place by Germany.

But Feige brushed off the fall, telling The Local: “The difference between the perception of Swiss products and German products is really very small.

“In the previous years it was Switzerland in front of Germany with a tiny margin and this year it's the other way round so it's not really a very big story, it's a small adjustment in the perception of both countries.”


Chart showing ranking of products' reputation, with 'Swissness' narrowly in second place. Source: Swissness Worldwide 2016.

Neither did Switzerland fare well in all sectors.

“A cliché persists of Switzerland as the land of mountains, chocolate and watches, rather than as innovative or a tech leader,” researchers said in a statement.

As well as assessing the reputation of Swiss products, the survey also looked into the broader perception of the country.

Respondents were asked to consider if they perceived countries to be cosmopolitan or xenophobic, and a score was given based on the ratio between the two.

Switzerland was judged the third most cosmopolitan behind Italy and Spain.

“Switzerland is considered by international standards – probably contrary to the prevailing opinion in Switzerland – as cosmopolitan and slightly xenophobic,” said the report.

It also found Swiss tennis star Roger Federer to be “the most frequently cited ambassador” for the country, “who embodies worldwide Swiss values such as reliability and hard work”.

The survey comes as Switzerland prepares to bring in new regulations in January 2017 which will set out stricter conditions companies must meet in order to use the ‘Made in Switzerland' tag on their products.

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