Seductive proximity: Regionality in food
Something regional. Preferably from the farm next door. Actually, this offer should be attractive enough in itself. In this article, we explain why the right communication is nevertheless crucial.
Even with an excellent offer: Food is and remains one of the most emotional consumer goods. The right communication is the be-all and end-all. You can find out how here.
Communicate regionality correctly
Saturday, shortly before 11 a.m. at Munich’s Viktualienmarkt: crowds of tourists and locals push their way between the stalls with all kinds of delicacies. Whether it’s spicy cheese, hot soups for the small appetite, fine wines, spicy olives or asparagus – the origin of the goods is emblazoned in bold letters on the signs. What used to be found at most in the small print is now prominently displayed. And at the same time, the number of stalls offering “Made in Munich” originals is steadily increasing. A similar development can be seen in the supermarket next door. Products and delicacies from Bavaria are put in the spotlight in special promotion areas or during promotion weeks. Consumers are happy to help themselves. This is also confirmed by the results of a recent GfK survey: 37 percent of Germans say they pay attention to the origin of food and beverages and prefer products from the region. Regional is the new organic is the forecast.
But what does that actually mean – regional? How far may the product have traveled from the producer to the consumer or the point of sale in order to still be allowed to call itself regional? And not to forget: It’s all a question of point of view. The consumer- or POS-centered point of view is one. If I take the location of the company as a yardstick for regionality, then Weißbiereiner Bavarian brewery or a Weißwurst from a Munich butcher’s shop is a regional specialty, even if it is sold at the other end of the republic in East Frisia. And finally: how do I deal with the origin of the ingredients? Can a grapefruit lemonade from a medium-sized German beverage company ever be sold as a regional product – when citrus fruits never grow in local climes? What about national borders? Is a German dairy allowed to call its cheese regional, even if the milk for it comes from the Austrian village barely 10 kilometers away?
Questions upon questions, but unfortunately the term “regional” is not protected. There is no legal requirement. As a result, a variety of seals have emerged to fill this gap, such as the “Protected Geographical Indication” (PGI). It states that at least one of the production stages – production, processing or manufacturing – must take place in the named geographical area. Theoretically, the pork for Nuremberg Rostbratwurst can therefore come from Denmark or the Netherlands and only the sausage production can take place in the region. The “Geprüfte Qualität – Bayern” (“Tested Quality – Bavaria”) mark of the Free State of Bavaria, on the other hand, focuses on the origin of the ingredients or the finished product.
These are just two of the hundreds of such marks and seals that now exist. Since the criteria for awarding these seals vary widely, by no means all seals ensure transparency. Suppliers of regional products can determine for themselves how big “their” region is, and they can advertise their regional products with their own brands, marks or seals. No wonder the consumer is confused by this flood.
So what does this mean in concrete terms for retailers or manufacturers who want to capitalize on the regionality trend? How can I meet the wishes and needs of consumers for regional products?
The answer is: communication plays the decisive role! Clarity and credibility are the be-all and end-all. The customer must know what is behind the product attribute “regional” and he must be able to understand and trust that this statement is really correct. This is precisely where effective press and media relations come into play. An editorial article provides the necessary space and credible framing to optimally present such an inflationary but at the same time complex concept as regionality. In interviews, I can show my face as a company or brand, convince people personally and explain how important regionality is to me.
A successful example of how good media work works is provided by the “Heimatbrot” project of the Fickenscher Backhaus. Originally a “pure” technical work in the context of a bread Sommelierausbildung, attained the innovative project by efficient medium work country widely admits. Articles in the news magazine stern, contributions in the ARD and in the BR gave Andreas Fickenscher, the head behind Heimatbrot, room to put his concept convincingly.
That shows: Good press work pays off – especially when it comes to the successful implementation of regional concepts.