Tracking and profiling of the South Tyrol brand were deployed for the first time in Germany and Italy in 2008, including nine other Alpine destinations and 12 vacation types with focuses ranging from adventure to culture and relaxation. The results for Germany and Italy were verified in 2011 and Switzerland was included in the investigation as well. To track the brand, STURM und DRANG used MindMarkerTM.
“South Tyrol is a contrasting symbiosis of Alpine and Mediterranean, spontaneity and reliability, nature and culture.”Key message of the South Tyrol brand
MindMarkerTM is a digital process based on accepted psychological research methods that combines the systematic approach of conventional questionnaires with the individuality of personal, face-to-face interviews. Unlike standardized questionnaires, respondents themselves determine the criteria for distinguishing the various elements. Based on the repertory grid technique, they are asked to provide individual evaluation criteria about pairs of destination brands or vacation types, which are then compared with each other. A structured visual matrix depicts the relevant criteria and dimensions from the perspective of respondents, thus practically providing a snapshot of the mind of the consumers.
Modern software technology makes it possible to interview as many people as desired both efficiently and individually using the CAPI (computer-assisted personal interviewing) technique, subsequently combining the results into an overall picture in the form of multidimensional thematic representation. MindMarkerTM thus ensures transparency in relation to as well as a thoroughgoing exploration of the subject of investigation, plus a high degree of clarity thanks to the visual representation.
The motivational cosmos is at once a diagram of the mental structures in the mind of the consumer and the analytical basis for brand tracking. Mapped within the visual space are all relevant vacation qualities affecting the decision for or against one type of trip or destination. The two basic dimensions that had been identified in the 2007 study – “passive vs. active” and “culture vs. nature” – were provided as givens to make the results comparable with those of the first brand tracking investigation. Between these poles are four additional axes that define and organize the vacation themes within the visual space.
The thematic cosmos was verified using MindMarkerTM data and semantically adjusted. As in 2007, the analysis revealed that the types of vacation as well as the vacation destinations could be grouped into clusters within the thematic cosmos in all three countries. These clusters were then analyzed in terms of their drivers and barriers to get a picture of the competitive environment of South Tyrol in the current perception of the respondents.
The in-depth analysis of the image of South Tyrol – by country as well as by subgroup, for example summer versus winter tourists – uncovered potential for destination marketing from which action strategies were derived for the three target markets Germany, Italy and Switzerland. The various driver structures in these markets necessitate a differentiated approach in terms of market communication.
While the thematic cosmos of vacation qualities has remained relatively constant compared with 2007, some basic trends can be discerned: the focus of the drivers is transitioning towards more active vacations – including spa and wellness offerings – and an increased appreciation of natural contexts, meaning outdoor activities and the naturally invigorating mountain environment continue to be on-trend. Rest and relaxation, however, continue to be the primary reasons people vacation in the various regions of the Alps. Italian respondents cited serenity, peace of mind and pleasure-seeking as vacation qualities relevant to their decision-making, while for the Swiss, a combination of sports and nature makes for an ideal holiday.
The image of South Tyrol has developed in tandem with the general trend towards more active vacations. This development offers potential to address the changing aspects of different vacation types in a targeted manner. In terms of a more differentiated view of physical activity, targeted and individual marketing efforts are promising, particularly in Switzerland.
Mediterranean aspects represent the second associative area for the South Tyrol brand image. Leisure and pampering are big factors here, and may represent opportunities to make South Tyrol stand out among other Alpine regions. The perception of the region as “German” in the minds of Italians could be the basis of successful marketing with an emphasis on social aspects such as warm hospitality and a wealth of recreational options.
Even lacking a specific USP, South Tyrol is an extremely attractive vacation destination among the Alpine regions, benefiting from positive associations with active enjoyment of nature and from its Italian flair. Whereas it may be difficult for South Tyrol to distinguish itself from other Alpine regions in terms of the primary associative areas of nature and physical activity, the secondary associative space of relaxation and pampering – which includes more summery associations – presents good opportunities for differentiation.
Photo © Südtirol Marketing / Helmuth Rier