Purpose - To examine how people from countries that vary in uncertainty avoidance (UA) use information about product uncertainty when evaluating products.Design/methodology/approach - Two studies were conducted that vary in methodology, sampling and analysis. First, an experiment was designed to manipulate product uncertainty through the use of country of origin (COO) quality-stereotypes. It was administered to university students from a diverse range of countries, all studying in the USA. Next, data from a large-scale survey of consumers from ten counties was submitted to hierarchical binary regression analyses to include variables at the country and individual level.Findings - The studies support an interaction between product uncertainty (PU) and cultural UA on quality perceptions and behavioural intentions. Consumers from high UA countries evaluated high PU offerings less positively and held weaker behavioural intentions than those from low UA countries, but for low PU offerings, no difference was found. The effect of UA was reduced for people with more experience and those who were younger.Research limitations/implications - Although we isolated the effects of UA from other cultural and individual level variables, it would be useful to directly cross individualism with UA in an experimental design, as these two variables are highly correlated.Practical implications - This study suggests products with higher levels of PU will have more opportunity to prove themselves in low uncertainty cultures.Originality/value - This study should be valuable for marketing managers devising rollout strategies for products with higher levels of PU or weaker quality stereotypes.