Should Your Brand Be A Tourist Attraction Too

Should Your Brand Be A Tourist Attraction Too
November 4, 2016 John McCallum

Should Your Brand Be A Tourist Attraction Too?

I remember how sceptical I was when I was first told I should visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. I’d been in breweries before and, in truth, they’re not that interesting. But on a business trip to Dublin a few years ago I was invited to visit and I was very impressed. The Guinness Storehouse is part museum, part brewery tour, part social history and full on brand building. It was also very busy; indeed the last figures I saw suggested that the Guinness Storehouse was the most visited paid for tourist attraction in Ireland.

Since then I’ve visited a number of food and drink brands who’ve added ‘tourist attraction’ to their portfolio. They’ve ranged from ice-cream to chocolate to whisky to potato crisps to biscuits and each one was highly enjoyable. I took my children to Cream of Galloway Ice Cream in Gatehouse Of Fleet when holidaying in the area last summer. Clearly on a very different scale from Guinness they were still able to engage young and old alike whilst imparting knowledge and brand awareness, and we paid them for the privilege of this three-hour interactive advertisement! Added to enjoying the trip it’s now a brand we look for when in the local supermarket and, ultimately, surely that must be the goal.

Agri-tourism, to give it it’s official name, is big business for many brands, but should all brands be involved in it? Well, yes, frankly, at some level all brands should. Now we’re the first to accept that this is easier said than done. One of our clients, Tunnocks, simply can’t accommodate the number of people who want to visit their plant. They do have tours but numbers are limited and demand is huge. Curious customers approach a different client of ours regularly about visits and seeing how their products are made but their production directors always refuse. They are highly concerned about introducing more people than is absolutely necessary into a highly regulated, food manufacturing process for a variety of very good reasons. We’ve some other clients who simply don’t believe there will be much interest from the public or who feel what they do doesn’t make great viewing.

As the consumers of our products become ever more detached from the food they eat helping them understand the processes, the ingredients, the crafts and skills involved in their production can surely only be a good thing. Creating a visitor centre, a tour, bringing in more staff, diverting resources, having the hassle of dealing with the ‘general public’ probably feels like the last thing many food manufacturers want or need. However, even mid-term the brand building, awareness and loyalty it could engender might make it all worthwhile. On top of that these can be revenue generating.

For us though it’s the opportunity to spend time with consumers and tell a fully engaging brand story that is most exciting. I can’t think of any other scenario in marketing where you’ll get a captive audience of consumers all to yourself for a few hours, that just doesn’t happen anywhere else. In our experience most food and drink brands do have interesting stories to tell, often stories their consumers don’t know, that alone is an enticing opportunity for all of us in marketing.

Guinness Storehouse

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