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What we can learn from how Maine uses products to build brand

I just spent a few days in Maine, and have to say – they get marketing. Maine-made products are highlighted in every store, restaurant and even rest area. Now, Maine has a powerful brand. Made in Maine says something. Perhaps the isolation of being the Northeastern most state, perhaps the size of Maine, or its unique character – but the made in Maine brand ties travel to local producers. Think about it – lobster, blueberries, whoopee pies, shrimp, maple syrup – none are exclusive to Maine, but all draw a strong association with travel – and build Maine’s brand.

What’s the secret? Well, first Maine has some great local retail traditions, Reny’s and LL Bean – both have survived the onslaught of national discount chains. Second, the classic Maine products are tied to food – and cuisine is a major brand generator of travel marketing. Next, they put the word “Maine” in front of the product – not lobster, but Maine lobster; not blueberries, but Maine blueberries – adding value and building brand. Lastly, stores, even national chains, feature local products. So, any grocery or convenience store will offer and highlight what is made locally. They do this because visitors seek these products out, and are willing to pay a premium price.

The Global Report on Food Tourism by the World Tourism Organization found that the average visitor spends around one third of their vacation budget on food, so food is a major driver.

The challenge has always been linking food to travel brand – and Maine does that well. In fact, it is hard to find a great travel brand that d

oes not have a strong food component - so kudos to Maine for serving travel up right!

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