Thursday, March 31, 2011

When territorial marketing meets food.

France is widely known for its gastronomy and its love of regional products. For this, the French gastronomic meal has been recognized by the UNESCO, but what would be the French meal without its (delicious) regional products?
France largely benefits from its image as the Country of Gastronomy. Most of the 80 million tourists, each year, are keen to discover snails, goose liver or some nice Bordeaux wines. Hence, what starts out with a touristic approach has effects on the whole economy (food, transportation, accommodation industries, etc.)
All over the world, regions, cities, territories and countries have understood the power of this recognition of their cuisine and use it as tool to attract attention. Development agencies, part of regional or city councils, have focused many of their efforts on showing off their specialty products to the rest of the world in order to catch the attention of tourists.
Hangzhou cuisine


Links between local products and territories
Some companies use the reputation of the territories they work with as a guarantee for their products in term of quality. 
Tipiak - Brittany (France)

Tipiak, a brand specialised in dry groceries uses the image of the Bigouden territory: tradition and quality. This region is known in France for grandmothers wearing such traditional hats.
In this ad, grandmothers taste some bread croutons made by the grandma and the brand Tipiak. Realising that they both taste the same, the ladies decide Tipiak has stolen the original recipe. The viewer hence thinks Tipiak products are as good and tasty as traditional grandmothers’.
Ocean Spray with Canada

In this ad dedicated to the French audience, two men from Quebec in Canada (known for growing some of the best cranberries) present their cranberry juice. Insisting on the origin of their products is a way to ensure a better quality.
With the use of links between territories and local products, authorities have understood quite quickly the importance to protect their regional products against similar ones that do not have the same quality. Some legal frameworks (delivered by the European Union) such as the Protected Geographical Status (PGS) ensures that the region keeps its benefits in producing such products, creating an added value compared to competitors. Examples of products that have a legal framework ensuring quality and origins are the French Cheese Roquefort, Champagne or the Jamon Merano in Spain. 
Gastronomic tourism 

Such kind of activities has developed over the past decades. Like tours in the Loire Valley to visit castles, it is now quite common for tourist groups to tour around Champagne caves or in Périgord to discover, taste and buy products they can’t find at home. However, is that it? Is this type of tourism only oriented to gastronomy? Is it enough to attract tourists?
Attaching a specific label to tourism is close to non-sense; indeed, what creates attraction to a territory is not unique but quite large and widespread. Hence, tourism is not categorized or strictly linked to a unique aim of promoting one aspect of its attractiveness factors.
In order to attract tourists, regions or cities not only sell gastronomy on its own, but as part of a campaign that shows the way of life, integrating many aspects of the region: landscapes, social activities, culture, gastronomy, tradition, climate…
Little by little, local authorities have decided not to focus gastronomy (or regional products) on a unique communication campaign, as gastronomy alone is not ENOUGH to attract tourists anymore. It is the whole experience of living in this territory that matters now. Gastronomy only creates an added value. It is a medium, a vector for communicating a message, not an end in itself.
Tourism campaign Poitou-Charentes region, presenting gastronomy and regional specialty alongside family, cultural or green activities:

Gastronomy and Territorial Marketing 

Considering the fact that the gastronomic approach not only affect tourism but also many key sectors of the economy and their stakeholders, gastronomy (and the overall food industry it is linked to) ought to be implemented in marketing campaigns for the promotion of territories towards not only tourists, but also inhabitants, investors, corporate tourism, local companies…. The best campaign is related to a territorial marketing strategy in order to promote the region in the long run. Indeed, this would be the more intelligent way to advertise local products as the aim is to competitively position a territory in order to attract, welcome and keep inhabitants, capital, and investments.
The main advantage of this integrated approach is that it directly involves anyone who might have an interest in specific markets or products as well as in the city or its economy. Moreover, it helps interconnecting the actors involved in the territory’s development and includes the different aspects and characteristics of the territory in a multifaceted image.
The city of Lyon for example has embraced this logic, and presented, through its first territorial marketing campaign, a city that is welcoming, attractive and interesting:

As mentioned previously, Lyon is showing off its different characteristics: charm, culture, events, gastronomy, festival, fashion, sports... in a 5-topic ad: Only Lumière (Lights – the city is well known in France for its festival of lights in December), Only Saveur (Flavour – Lyon is known as the French Capital of Gastronomy and owns many diverse specialties), Only Business (the ad shows the ability to welcome business events that is directed to investors), Only Creation (fashion, music, Lyon wants to be seen as a cultural and active city that is always enhancing its value), Only Evasion (Escape – with this characteristic, Lyon wants to show that it is located close to the naturally beautiful sites and offers diverse activities to ‘escape’ from the city; however, as it needs to ‘keep’ its inhabitants within the city, Lyon is also presenting way to ‘escape’ from the day-to-day routine by activities and mainly sports).
No doubt that in the future, classic tourism campaigns will no longer feature a sole characteristic (gastronomy for example) of their territory; but they would be part of a larger campaign that presents the city to the world.
By M. Billy
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