Great brands demonstrate the importance of building a meta-narrative that communicates the organisational philosophy and the value of the product components to the consumer. This in time creates a marketing culture and brand equity.

Earlier on this trip we visited the whisky isle of Islay and the distilleries of Kilchoman and Bruichladdich, however, although grand from a marketing perspective in terms of production they are small, therefore, we decided to visit Glenfiddich a much larger distillery with greater brand recognition and recall.

Glenfiddich is the only whisky distillery that Anna and I visited on our initial visit to Scotland, 30 years previously. Not being a whisky drinker I have had little motivation to visit on subsequent visits to Scotland, however, as whisky marketing is synonymous with Scotland, visiting Glenfiddich seemed to make sense.

The first thing you notice when arriving at Glenfiddich is the ‘theatre’ manicured grounds, the glorious flower beds, and the well maintained traditionally built buildings. We enjoyed a nice lunch in the restaurant. There were a number of groups and one group were tasting a 40 year old whisky. After lunch we joined a guided tour of the distillery.

Our guide was a local, who was university student and this was her part-time job. However, she was well acquainted with the workings of the distillery and presented in an interesting and friendly manner. She asked whether anyone in the group had visited Glenfiddich before; Anna said we had visited 30 years ago, and our guide replied ‘That was before I was born and I bet you will see a lot of changes’. Although there were a lot of changes, particularly in the restaurant, the shop, and the tasting rooms, it was pleasing to see that the traditions and the marketing wisdom of the past had remained.

I have to say, back then, the Glenfiddich tour was outstanding. I think it was the first multimedia presentation I experienced, however, then the tourism industry in Scotland lacked the finesse of today; therefore, it was also pleasing to see that the Glenfiddich tour has kept up with the times and remains a high quality experience.

In themarketingconcept [e-book] we outline the 9 key objectives of marketing practitioners, one of which is product leadership; clearly, this requires organisations to continually search for new ways to stay ahead and to enhance the customer experience. It is also important to realise that whilst many, in particular those with a goods and services mind set, may view a distillery tour as a ‘service’ this may not be the full story from either an organizational perspective or a customer perspective.

A major characteristic of services is that services are perishable and, therefore, once the service has been performed it cannot be resold, however, ideas may not be as perishable as the service component. After all, some of the ideas from the original Glenfiddich distillery tour have remained in my long term memory for 30 years. Also keep in mind, that no one visits Glenfiddich for the services that facilitate and enable the tours to proceed; they go for the sensory experiences. For marketing practitioners this is important as it ensures that the appropriate organisational attention is given to each product component.

Glenfiddich tours provides marketing practitioners with a number of insights; to focus on the communication of ‘ideas’, the building of a meta-narrative to position the brand, the value of communicating the provenance of the product [place] and through storytelling enhancing the expertise of the Glenfiddich ‘craftsmen’ [people], and the choreographing of a Glenfiddich tour experience that creates a long-term emotional involvement. From a customer’s perspective it is about enjoying a ‘branded experience’ and adding a brand to a consumer library of brands. Consumers employ brands to help create a sense of identity and to commnicate with fellow consumers – often through social media.  To some readers this may seem like a marketing scholar being pedantic, but don’t ignore the importance of creating a unique value proposition or the importance of amplifying it through social media and other word of mouth media.

The takeaway is that marketing practitioners can position their product by crafting the product components of goods, services, ideas, experiences, people, and place.

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