19 September 2005

segment branding

Whether marketers like it or not, increasingiing global and regional competition, (it is estimated that there are more than 100,000 locations in Asia alone, actively seeking to attract business, industry and tourists) the fragmentation of the media and ever growing forms of leisure time pursuits mean an international, 'one-size-fits-all' tourism strategy is no longer effective.
Countries must brand themselves by aligning differentiated offerings with the values and requirements of specific segments. Perhaps one of the first to realise this was South Africa. Many years ago, the government and private high-end lodges got together to begin the long process of strengthening South Africa as a brand through eco-tourism.
The Singita Group actually turns away tourists thanks to a segmented approach to branding begun at the turn of the century. The Singita operates with a 3.5 staff to one guest and this is the foundation of their approach to provide the 'Big Five' experience of the Lion, Rhino, Leopard, Buffalo and Elephant in the comfort of a world class luxury environment.
Malaysia has traditionally pursued a mass market approach to developing a brand. This can be difficult to measure and expensive to maintain as it focusses on the acquisition of new customers, a sort of 'spray and pray' approach. By adopting a segmented approach, Malaysia tourism can first research those potential segments that are most likely to have the most chance of success, target those segments with relevent messages and measure the effectiveness of the campaigns. Finally Malaysia can actually develop a relationship with those segments and work to ensure they become repeat visitors and ambassadors.
The obvious segments include diving, shopping, beach & recreation, food and gourmet, medical and gap year students. Whilst these students may not have the disposable income of an Arab family of 12 from Riyadh, they actually contribute significant amounts to the economy due to the length of time spent in the country. Morover, they are the future heads of families that will be looking to take their families on holiday in the years to come. An estimated 2 million gap year trips are expected to be taken annually by 2010 and spending on those trips is extimated to be in the region of RM75 billion.
Another often neglected gap year market is those made redundant, taking a year off between jobs or giving themselves a retirement present. These older 'gappers' tend to stay in accommodation run by local people and often buy locally produced produce and goods and eat at local restaurants, rather than the international chain of hotels, restaurants or supermarkets, thereby contributing more to the local economy.
Food tourism is another segment attracting attention but still not being approached in an effective manner locally. Food tourism in the UK, yes the UK, is now big business and the BBC estimates the country has finally shaken off its image of fatty fried meals, burnt roast dinners and vindaloos. The food tourism industry in the UK is estimated to be worth RM28 billion a year already.
However, segmented branding requires more than simply ads in cook books or student union magazines. A structured, long term approach, designed to ensure the visitors do not only make a single visit is critical. After all, a relationship is critical to a long term profitable relationship with those customers.


Post a Comment

<< Home