Abstract In a provocative article in this journal, Jean-Claude Usunier (2006) summarizes the critique on country of origin (COO) research and proclaims it to be ivory tower research that is of little relevance for consumers and businesses. Against this background, our paper comments on recent studies criticizing both past COO research and the relevance of the COO concept itself. We systematically counter the critique on COO research and provide reflections on the way forward for the field. Despite acknowledging Usunier's (2006) views that much research in this area might be guided by feasibility, rather than theoretical and practical relevance, and suffers from self-referential dynamics and overspecialization, we are critical of his conclusions with regard to the extant literature, its achievements and future research. We argue that COO is still a very relevant area of research, but one that does need to address several critical challenges.