Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A Recipe for Success? Why not try Restaurant Australia…

With people yearning for all things foodie and gastronomic, culinary desire is simmering and exuberance for food and wine has been sprinkled across the globe, resulting in chefs and winemaker’s being positioned as modern day rock stars.

Yes ladies and gentleman, it is official, our world has gone ‘ga-ga’ in love with food.  With buzzwords such as “provenance” “degustation” and “hand crafted” fluttering amongst everyday vocab, people are striving for a deeper connection and understanding with what they’re eating and drinking.

However this healthy obsession with food shows, celebrity chefs, produce and wine hasn’t gone unnoticed with government bodies, such as Tourism Australia are even looking to take a bite via their recent marketing initiatives.

In today’s competitive and marketing savvy world, branding is accepted as a fundamental strategy for competitive advantage and success. With that notion, countries, like companies, are all continuously searching for that key insight and big idea that will propel their country-brand into the hearts and minds of overseas consumers by speaking a language that resonates with their own values, attitudes and beliefs.

And really, what better universal language is there than food?

Tourism Australia’s recent Restaurant Australia campaign aims to create positive and unique associations of the Australian food and wine industry within the overseas market. Through a visually stunning integrated marketing campaign, it aims to appeal to overseas consumers by communicating how Australia’s fine array of produce can be enjoyed in one of the most stunning locations in the world.

A Print Advert for the Restaurant Australia Campaign (Source: News.com.au)

The campaign was derived via the insight that only 26 per cent of people who have never travelled to Australia, associated our country to have good food and wine offerings. However for those travellers who have visited, Australia was ranked second across the 15 major markets for its food and wine experiences (60%) behind France and ahead of Italy (third).

Having worked within the UK restaurant and events industry for almost a decade, I can be the first to vouch that perceptions of Australia’s restaurants abroad is not what it is in reality. It is true, compared to the culturally-luxurious lands of France and Italy, the Australian restaurant industry could be deemed as a free-spirited teenager due to not having a comparable lengthy heritage of food and wine.

However perceptions such as “throw another shrimp on the barbie”, meat pies and rissoles still consume how the Australian food scene is positioned in the mind of the overseas customer. So much so the true depth of the quality and sophistication of Australia’s modern food and wine culture has been somewhat bruised.

The clever aspect of the Tourism Australia campaign is that over and above showcasing “Australian produce”, the creative executions also focus on the rich ethnic diversity and positive approach of Australian people as well as our superb climate. A true unique selling point, that draws the overseas customer “outside” to enjoy our finest flavours with a backdrop of spectacular natural landscape. 

Tourism Australia’s recognised that consumers have entered an era where one’s choice of restaurant or holiday is equally reflective of their ‘personal brand’ as the pair of shoes they don or what they do for a living. A consumer’s self-expression is no longer confined by specific categories such as “fashion”, “travel” and “food”, but rather a holistic “lifestyle” bubble, where the ‘fashion’ brand one wears, the ‘restaurant’ brand of where one eats or the ‘country’ brand of where one travels to – are all equally correlated and intertwined.

So like any energetic, ambitious teenager, the Australian food scene has started to get itchy feet and is on the verge of being thrust into a whole new playing field.  With Australian chefs such as Luke Mangan, Neil Perry and Peter Gilmore setting the standards of our cuisine internationally and the global popularity of shows such as Masterchef Australia; it is clear that the perception of our country brand is shifting and that Restaurant Australia is no longer being positioned as an aspiration but as truly phenomenal destination.

Shrimps won’t stop grilling on the barbie, but the fresh flavour, innovation and world-class beauty of Australia is now being translated into its cuisine. Bravo Tourism Australia for leading the view, I’ll raise a glass to that. Now, I don’t know about you, but after all that chat - let’s go eat.

For more information about the Restaurant Australia campaign, visit tourism.australia.com.

Natasha Menon
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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