QR(2)

One of the most forward thinking recommendations from the NSW Visitor Economy Taskforce was to “Work with the NSW wine and food industry to explore opportunities for promoting NSW as a destination on exported wine and food (for example, include Destination NSW’s consumer web address on labels).”

In the current economic, social and political climate, there’s a lot to be said for marketing collaborations that not only leverage “related variety”, but also tap in to vast audience and cost savings of digital and social media.

If consumers want information on Australian wine brands, most have websites with latest products, prices, distribution channel options, brand history and so forth.

De Bortoli wine brand Vinoque has labels bearing QR codes — yet these simply connect to product information (not destination brand marketing campaigns that would build long term consumer brand disposition, moving them from ‘trial’ to committed brand advocates.

While relatively few people would scan a QR code to access general product information, or the latest anti-binge drinking campaign, I’d certainly use the technology to see a short video about this year’s artists playing “A Day On The Green” gigs.

I’d expect the “Drink Responsibly” cause to gain a mention in such a promotion, both for transport options and RSA and security.  I’d be surprised if this music event promotion didn’t plug Robert Oatley Wines or another regular host vineyard.  Providing I’ve seen a high production value video on Australian live music (as advertised) my exposure to responsible drinking and wine brand marketing probably achieves greater impact.

Disruption marketing, grabbing new audience attention by unconventional means, would allow FMCG marketing and ‘drink responsibly’ messages to make an impact.

Smart marketers have been leveraging synergies between food and destination brand marketing for years. Since purchasing Hamilton Island, Bob Oatley himself has leveraged tourism, sports and grocery channel audiences to amplify his cross-promotional reach.  Ever wondered why mini-bars and restaurants on Hamilton Island are so well stocked with Wild Oats and Robert Oatley Vineyard brands?

A product’s provenance brand story, and sustainable and ethical sourcing of ingredients, are topical and grow ever more so.  As impressive as Moran’s show is as a foodie series, it’s no travel show (it doesn’t highlight transport, accommodation, event schedule or other tourism information).

Food and Wine Tourism marketing should aim to deliver something between Matt Moran’s “From Paddock To Plate” and Mike Whitney’s “Sydney Weekender”

Food tourism isn’t just good for tourism – it’s equally important to the viability of Australian agriculture and food manufacturing since it builds consumer brand disposition.  This explains the rationale behind the MOU signed between Tourism Australia and Wine Australia.

For Australian food and wine manufacturers, the most effective way to connect with consumers who are interested about food security, animal rights, and other recent food trends, is to invite consumers to visit a food factory and supply chain operation.    Not only is it a powerful demonstration of a business’ confidence and transparency, food tourism provides a program by which Australian food consumers can become brand advocates.

Under Tourism Australia’s “Restaurant Australia” program, leveraging benefits of related variety is a concept that has come of age – at precisely the right time.

The Hunter Valley Research Foundation, supported by the region’s winemakers and other key industries, points to the considerable potential for industry to use exposure to new markets to inform and drive innovative activity.

“Relationships and networks are pivotal and cross-sectoral discussion and collaboration can lead to the production of innovation based on related variety. This concept entails synthesising developments across sectors such as, for example, lifestyle, health and tourism, or mining, energy and power, to create new market offerings that are built on existing strengths in the Region but which diversify the output.”

For struggling drought affected farmers, building related variety within a region, through organically developed networks, is recognised as one of the most important ways of minimising risks from specialisation.  Agribusiness diversification to include some tourism income (farm stay, farm open day etc) is simply risk management.  And for some (Josef Chromy whose vineyard has a restaurant and hosts opera events on the Relbia property from time to time), the additional income is significant.

For food manufacturers, few activities can beat food tourism as consumer and corporate brand building exercises.  At a time when more Australians than ever before are interested in how their food is made, it will deliver enormous benefits to participants.

The economic, social and environmental dimensions are increasingly interdependent due to connectivity and feedback loops.  The term often used is convergence.  In a converging world, understanding wider trends and the way they can be used to create value becomes very important.

As does understanding that different types of industries can co-create, and that research and development in this space that crosses the boundaries, can provide businesses with multiple synergies and longer lasting value.

Not only did the Visitor Economy Taskforce identify well the potential in Australia’s under-valued food and wine product, its new media focus shows NSW understands how to capitalise from convergence.

This is already happening at the business unit level.  For example, Australia’s fastest growing craft beer brand Young Henry’s in Newtown not only delivers a food tourism experience (tasting bar and brewery are co-located), it has gained enormous social license to match its commercial success.

Young Henrys sells beer in reusable “growlers”, sources ingredients from Australian farms and delivers spent grain back to farms for use as livestock feed.  It’s positioned well to connect with consumers who are motivated as much by waste minimisation, food security, provenance, farm viability, as they are by taste and price factors.

While the visitor economy value of the Cadbury Chocolate Visitor Centre in Hobart has dominated media debate over the past fortnight, it’s time for government to consider how it can use its internal departmental resources and prowess of Tourism Australia’s social media marketers better.

The likes of Darrel Lea (Ingleburn) and Byron Bay Chocolate Company are no less deserving of support.

Perhaps it’s time for the Australian Made And Grown campaign to work with the federal government to deliver an integrated food and wine tourism program, using QR codes on food and wine labels as a cost free way to market it.

In the process, it may even grab new audience attention for the drink responsibly cause.

Adam Joseph is a Consultant in Agritourism and is  passionate about bringing food consumers closer to food producers.