Purpose - The globalisation of markets combined with the paradoxical rise of nationalism has created an increased concern about the importance of the interaction of global brands with other cues such as the country of origin (COO) of products and services. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the decision-making processes of experts and novices with respect to international brand names, COO and intrinsic quality differences. Design/methodology/approach - Within subject experimental design, quantitative study analysis of variance. Findings - Results of a series of experiments with personal computers as a product with strong COO effects supported this argument. Experts or highly knowledgeable consumers were found to use COO in a circumspect manner or as a limited summary construct, only when such information was consistent with a linked brand name or a particular level of physical quality. Novices, for both products used COO as a halo regardless of brand name and physical quality. Research limitations/implications - International brand names are used in a more analytical manner by experts, with respect to quality, whilst novices based their decision-making on extrinsic cues. This was a controlled experimental design and results could be evaluated further by more realistic design using actual products in a more market setting. Although the use of product description as used as experimental treatments in this study is not an unusual manner in which personal computers are purchased by consumers, especially when they are purchased online. Practical implications - International marketers must carefully consider the quality, brand and COO information carefully when marketing to consumers of varying product knowledge as it appears different decision-making styles are used by experts and novices. Originality/value - This is one of the few studies to experimentally manipulate brand, quality and COO information amongst different groups of consumers with varying product knowledge (experts and novices). The experimental treatments were also carefully chosen so that differences due to the use of a global brand IBM could be evaluated against a lesser known local brand name.