Distilling the essence of the brand of the fens

Dennis, Charles, Alamanos, Eleftherios, van Rekom, Johan , Jayawardhena, Chanaka and Melewar, T. C. (2013) Distilling the essence of the brand of the fens. In: 4th International Colloquium on Place Brand Management: Strategic Marketing of Cities Regions and Nations, September 5 - September 6, 2013, Aosta, Italy.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
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The Fens are a naturally marshy region in eastern England. Most of the area was drained several centuries ago, resulting in a flat, damp, low-lying agricultural region. The Fens are a fertile arable region for grains and vegetables, containing around half of the grade 1 agricultural land in England. Despite years of promotion, the Fens are still to develop a positive destination brand and the economic impact of tourism is low compared to, say, the nearby city of Lincoln. Of 34 visitor attractions in the Fens, only four have attendances over 60,000 per year. This study examines the attributes of the Fens that form its essence in tourists’ ‘eyes’, which will facilitate the positioning of the proposed area as a destination. Given that people often already have elaborate images about places, destination managers have to link even more sensitively to consumers’ prior images than do brand managers of consumer brands. The authors use a method that combines the advantages of segmentability and comparability offered by attribute-based approaches with the Gestalt-like qualities of qualitative approaches: cognitive causal mapping. The method aims to find those attributes that people believe to be inherently core to the destination brand. It elicits the causal relations people perceive to exist between a destination’s attributes. The causal map shows how and to what extent visitors perceive other attributes to flow from these core attributes. The method demonstrates how people view those attributes that make the area more authentic than attributes that have a less central position in their cognitive causal map. By consequence, these central attributes are identified as more unique for “The Fens”. A pre-study was conducted in which twenty respondents (a convenience sample drawn from visitors selected by intercept sampling at two major visitor destinations: Springfield shopping centre in heart of the Fens; and in Lincoln city centre just beyond the northern edge of the Fens) were asked which attributes come to mind when thinking of “The Fens” as a destination. These served as input for the questionnaire. For the main study, a self-completion questionnaire was distributed to visitors to the two areas by again employing intercept sampling, n = 400 total (200 at each). The main attributes identified by participants as most characteristic of the Fens are: agriculture, countryside, big skies and flatland. The participants like most the features countryside, big skies, flatland, relaxed and friendly whereas they do not like a boring atmosphere. The causal relations which achieved a statistically-significant net proportion of agreement were plotted on a cognitive causal map using Hierarchical Linear Modeling, estimating average regression coefficients for the population. The most significant include:
• The Fens are not boring because they are friendly and have shopping and cathedrals
• The Fens have big skies because they have countryside and flatland
• The Fens are relaxed because they have countryside and big skies.
The cognitive causal maps can facilitate the design of campaigns to attract more visitors in the area. For example, the feature ‘boring’, which is not liked by visitors, can be mitigated by marketing communications indicating that the Fens are not boring because they are friendly and have shopping and cathedrals. Marketing communications can be designed to emphasise the most characteristic features of the Fens that are most liked, for example demonstrating that the Fens have big skies because they have countryside and flatland; and are relaxed because they have countryside and big skies.

Keywords:Cognitive causal mapping; brand essence; destination brand; tourism brand; the Fens.
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N840 International Tourism
N Business and Administrative studies > N500 Marketing
N Business and Administrative studies > N830 UK Tourism
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
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ID Code:11895
Deposited On:16 Sep 2013 15:28

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