National Parks, Territorial Brands and Co-Branding Initiatives: An Exploratory Study

National Parks, Territorial Brands and Co-Branding Initiatives: An Exploratory Study

Sonia Ferrari (University of Calabria, Italy)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1302-6.ch006

Abstract

Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious every day. They seek authenticity and natural goods and are willing to pay more for them, particularly for products whose images or brands are linked to specific places. In this context, national parks, which are symbols of naturalness, wildernesses, ecological integrity, biodiversity, organic production, and quality goods, can employ successful, specific, and targeted branding and co-branding policies. For parks, the use of branding strategies that reinforces local image and identity could be a means of raising funds and directing the attention of public opinion towards ecological issues, such as the protection of biodiversity and the enhancement of natural resources. This exploratory study aims to understand whether the brands of national parks can be considered territorial brands, which could generate positive effects for local products, services, and/or resources.
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Introduction

Currently, consumers are increasingly interested in memorable and unique consumption experiences that they can experience via natural, organic and authentic services, products and places. Every day, they become more environmentally conscious, seek authenticity and are willing to pay more for it, particularly for products whose images or brands are linked to specific places (Melewar, & Skinner, 2018; Moulard et al., 2015). Consequently, labels of origin and place brands are becoming ever more important tools in the marketing strategies of territories, tourist destinations, products, and services, particularly as instruments of differentiation to fight the homogeneity linked to the globalization of markets (Flack, 1997; Papadopoulos, 2018).

In this context, protected natural areas play an increasingly significant role. In the public eye, they frequently represent uncontaminated places, symbols of naturalness, wildernesses, ecological integrity, biodiversity, organic production, and quality goods (Brosius et al., 2005; Cole et al., 2008; Harmon, 2003; Temperini et al., 2017). For natural parks, the use of branding policies that reinforce local image and identity could be a means of promoting place and production (for example, traditional food and/or craft production) and of raising funds and directing the attention of public opinion on issues related to the conservation of nature, the protection of biodiversity, and the enhancement of local resources.

In the literature, investigation of this theme appears seriously limited and in any case it is restricted to the aspect of tourism promotion. However, the subject is interesting also for its practical implications. In fact, branding policy can become a territorial and tourist marketing tool that, by increasing protected areas’ brand image and brand equity, could help parks achieve their institutional goals more effectively. Of course, it is necessary to avoid overlaps with other already existing area brands and quality certifications for goods and services (Borrini-Feyerabend et
al., 2012).

The qualitative research presented here aims to study the point of view of consumers with reference to the proposed theme. The research is concentrated on national parks (NPs) because, based on an initial survey performed through interviews with experts and privileged observers and on an analysis of the literature on the topic, they were protected areas with brands and images stronger and better defined at the national and international levels (Frost, & Hall, 2010; Haukeland et al., 2011; Wall Reinius, & Fredman, 2007).

This research is an exploratory study focussed on the subjective mental associations that could influence consumer behaviours and attitudes towards NP brands and towards goods combined with them. The first part of the research is directed at understanding the mental concepts that people associate with NPs and how consumers’ attitudes and ideas could influence the brand awareness and brand image of NPs and awareness of goods related to them by co-branding activities. The final aim of the study is to understand whether NP brands can be considered territorial brands, which generate positive effects on local products, services, and/or resources

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