A Grand Tour of Scotland

In the spirit of the grand tours of the past. We will explore Scotland by car, train & boat. Along our journey we will visit a number of interesting places & businesses and with a marketing focus.

​Over the years I have become more aware of the role of ‘happenstance’ conversations as the source of new and interesting information, and, I have to say that I am more open and pay more attention to happenstance conversations than when I was younger [and more  impatient] – being open and inquisitive has proven most rewarding when planning this grand tour of Scotland. I have always been interested in Scotland as I was born in Scotland and came to Australia as a young child.

One of Scotland best known products is Scotch Whisky – there is nothing more Scottish than Scotch whisky; to identify brands of Scotch I paid a visit to my local liquor store [Dan Murphy’s Liquor Merchants Bicton].

As I wander around Dan Murphy’s I noticed that this store has an impressive ‘whisky precinct’. My father was not a ‘big drinker’, however, as part of his Scottish identity he liked to offer guests to our home  ‘a wee dram’ of whisky’ and at Christmas loyal customers of our family business would receive a special bottle of ‘Scotch’ to thank them for their patronage.

So I find myself in a slightly nostalgic mood as I scan the whisky precinct at Dan Murphy’s. The precinct is organized according to whisky regions.

Unbeknown to me I have entered Justin’s favourite part of the shop and in relaxed manner he begins to chat and informs me that on a tour of Scotland he was fortunate to visit Islay, he says Islay is known around the world as ‘the whisky isle’ that the whisky has a distinct smoky character and that this distinctive flavour results from the peat, the water, the climate and the Islay brewing process. He tells me that Islay although a relatively small island, some 40 by 20 miles and only 3,000 people, has nine distilleries. Not being a whisky drinker, I was unaware of the provenance associated with Islay whisky.

He then asks – Would you like to taste a whisky from Islay? And in the interest of thorough research accept his offer.

Now, as a marketing practitioner and a marketing academic I recognise that Justin’s level of product knowledge and this commitment to customer education demonstrates a very proficient and highly involved salesperson; one who is gently but purposefully steering me along the first time time zone of the buyer decision process. I come clean, and state that I am prospecting for ideas, that I intend to visit Scotland and may explore whisky from a marketing perspective and in particular from the idea of product provenance. ‘Then you need to visit Islay’ enthuses Justin ‘and you must talk with the people at Kilchoman and Bruichladdich – they have really interesting stories’. [Just for the record I visit Justin for his advice before the Tasmanian road trip]

After a little searching I have planned the tour including talking whisky marketing with the people at Kilchoman and Bruichladdich distilleries.

After a plane trip to London and a train trip to Glasgow Central Station we begin our grand tour of Scotland.


the economic factors and the product life cycle impact on organisational success

We will now explore the City of Glasgow which was once the economic powerhouse of the industrial world and a city of mixed economic times. 

In section 3 of the e-book we highlight the importance of a COMP marketing audit as part of the CADDIE business-marketing planning process. The M in COMP identifies that market conditions influence consumer decision-making and organisational decision-making. During a market audit we employ the acronym CEMSTEEP [competitors, economic,  social, technological, environmental, ethical & legal, political] to identify key factors. 

Although Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, Glasgow has long been the economic capital. There has long been a rivalry between the two cities. Historically, Glasgow was one of the major forces in the industrial revolution whilst Edinburgh was involved in more intellectual pursuits [see Scottish enlightenment].  

The Clyde Puffers

For many years the Clyde ‘Puffers’ were a common sight on the waterways of Scotland. These tough ‘wee ships’ advanced engineering and became legends of Scottish life. Initially, they were horse drawn canal boats that enabled the industrialisation of Scotland, later they were modified to be steam powered, and then further modified, including a wheelhouse, to transport goods to and from the Western Isles of Scotland. When the islands lacked a harbour, the flat-bottomed Puffers were carefully beached on high tides and unloaded on low tides. Loading and unloading was by hand and with the aid of winches attached to the mast. The people who sailed the Puffers were tough and they entered Scottish folklore through a series of adventure stories of the Vital Spark written by Neil Munro and published in a daily newspaper for over 20 years.
In WW1 and WW2 the Puffers played a vital role in servicing the merchant and navy ships. They earned their names by being steam powered, for much of their lives this was an advantage, however, with time being coal fired and steam driven became a liability and they were replaced by more efficient diesel engines and larger roll-on/roll-off ships.
The ‘Puffers’ may be largely forgotten, however, for those interested in the evolution of marketing and society will recognise that they played a significant role in the advancement of engineering knowledge and the movement of commodities and goods.

The ultra-modern train enters the Victorian era Glasgow Central Station, gliding almost silently under the impressive glass roof – the old and the new.

There is a flurry of activity as people organise their luggage, negotiate the aisles and steps of the train and walk the platform towards the foyer of the station with the imposing Grand Central Hotel. I am back in Scotland – where I was born.

Like many Victorian era train stations the Grand Central Hotel was constructed to accommodate the 19th century trade and tourist boom brought on as train travel became more accepted and affordable. Today this iconic four-star hotel and part of the Principal Hayley Hotels. A quick internet search discovers that a number of famous people who have stayed at this iconic hotel, The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Vivien Leigh, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant and Laurel and Hardy – I have included this list to highlight that it was once the place to stay. Interestingly, John Logie Baird broadcast the world’s first television transmission from a 4th floor room in 1927.

However, with time, the motor car, and the changing fortunes of the city of Glasgow the Grand Central Hotel lost its status, changed ownership a number of times, fell sadly into disrepair, and was eventually closed.  With new owners and an expensive restoration and refurbishment the hotel reopened for business in 2010 sparked by a new interest in train travel, a nostalgia for the grandeur of the past, and the improved economic and entertainment fortunes of Glasgow.

As a marketing academic the Grand Central Hotel highlights the impact of the prevailing situational factors [COMP], particularly, how the  market characteristics can influence the success of a product or organisation.

To some people Glasgow is considered as an industrial city of the past – a little run down and past its prime, however, to others it is a vibrant city with magnificent Victorian and Edwardian architecture. The architecture indicates the wealth that this city once generated for the United Kingdom –  a walk around George Square in the city centre is a good place to start, however, there are just so many iconic places – Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, The University of Glasgow, Tollbooth Steeple that some time is needed to fully appreciate the splendour. Glasgow is also full of great places to eat; one of the oldest is The Rogano which was established when the great ocean liners of the world were built on the nearby Clyde River. The Rogano is designed in keeping with the art deco style of Cunard’s famous ship – The Queen Mary.

Outside the city centre, Glasgow is a great place to wander around and explore. This time with some nice weather for walking, and the flower gardens at their best we visited The Glasgow Botanic Gardens and the Rouken Glen Park. There are just so many places that it would be impossible to list, however, favourite places are The Burrell Collection and surrounding gardens of Pollock Park, The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, The House for an Art Lover in Bellahousten Park, The Glasgow School of Art, and The People’s Palace.

It has to be said that Glasgow is full of surprises. As an apprentice my father had ‘worked on the Clyde’ which meant he worked in the shipyards of Govan and he always spoke about Govan very fondly. He was a great sketcher and would often draw ships mostly looking at them form the front and just off the port bow. When he retired he went on a number of sea cruises and was particularly fond of the Queen Elizabeth 2, because it was the last great ship built on the Clyde. He mentioned that those days were gone forever. When I mentioned ‘Govan’ to 10 Scottish people they saw it as working class, a place of damp slums, and associate it with the decline of the Scottish industry, the lost opportunities of the Thatcher era – a place of emigration from Scotland – and to some degree all of that is true.

Given the stories I had heard I wanted to explore Govan, search for the remnants of the great shipbuilding industry, explore an industrial landscape that once dominated the world. I wanted to gain an insight into how a simple hamlet quickly became a world leader in marine engineering and how it produced one innovation after innovation and then even quicker returned to being a hamlet – and once again is almost separated from Glasgow. What is well documented is how the wealth from shipbuilding was unevenly distributed and how the families of many shipbuilders lived in squalid conditions.

What is more tragic is how these skilled tradespeople after years of back breaking work and sacrifice were discarded and forgotten; how the collective skills of the people of Govan were allowed to be broken down and be lost forever – for no more than a political ideology. I walked through areas that may one day will be reused, possibly purchased by a national supermarket, until then the abandonments will remain derelict and have relics of the past positioned between the weeds and the rubbish. In Glasgow I saw a surviving crane where there was once a hundred cranes I visited Glasgow’s Riverside Museum that recorded the shipbuilding industry and applauded the skills of the past. But this is bitter sweet. Like my family, many people left Scotland, the decline of shipbuilding was seen as an indicator of the future.

As a marketing academic and practitioner I understand that every organisation and every product has a life cycle – the shipyards of Govan are an example.

Marketing is a quest for best. Whether it is to purchase best satisfying products or whether it is to produce best satisfying products. This applies as much in the business to business [B2B] sector as it does in the business to consumer [B2C] sector. Marketing is competitive and if your product is no longer best satisfying then another organisation will take your place. What I cannot understand is how the intellectual property of steel making and shipbuilding were not protected; were not given proper incentives to develop beyond manufacturing into more technology based service industries. I cannot understand how skills built over generations were lost in one generation. I cannot understand how such skilled people could be so disenchanted that they would leave their country and go to the other side of the world.

This is not confined to the UK, in many countries other industries have gone the same way [decline], sometimes we need to protect industries which are an assemblage of complex skills – just to avoid losing the ability to undertake complex tasks.

When I looked more deeply, I soon discovered a different Govan; one quite different from the one I heard about, one quite different from the opinions I had been given, and one that may offer a glimmer of hope. I now found people that talked about an ancient, rich, and royal history and how this history is relatively unknown outside a few ‘Govanites’. How Govan has played a major role in Scottish history over 1,200 years. How the Govan Parish Church, for example, houses The Stones of Govan, which historically are extraordinary – they like the Rosslyn Chapel was are just waiting for a part in a novel or a movie to be known and valued.

For more on the situational factors [COMP], including market characteristics of CEMSTEEP – please refer to The Marketing Concept [e-book]

Leaving Glasgow

Picking up a hire car and heading towards Islay, we make an overnight stop at Inveraray, along the way we rendezvous with some friends, visit a castle and find a great pub. From a marketing perspective we explore the role of pre-purchase expectations in customer’s post-purchase evaluation of satisfaction and how this may be shaped by personal recommendations and social media.

East Kilbride is just outside Glasgow, in Scotland, and I am collecting a hire car from Arnold Clark Car and Van Rentals. I am being fussed over by two lovely ladies, who complete the paperwork and patiently show me the idiosyncrasies of the Ford Focus. They make the effort to ensure I am comfortable with the car before wishing me good travels.

I noted that the car has only four thousand miles on the clock and that it is spotlessly clean. To me, being near new and clean, is the expected product and therefore is the industry standard that most car rental companies would need to deliver to survive in this competitive market. However, what really impressed me was the quality of customer service. Sure, it was a process, but a friendly process – this is what marketing practitioners refer to as functional quality. Functional quality is generally viewed as the basis for an augmented product and the basis of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

A little later that day, we leave the city behind and find ourselves in one of the most scenic landscapes on the planet.

The Butterbridge

A favourite photograph: The Butterbridge [also – Butter Bridge], is an 18th century humpback bridge in Glen Kinglas, Argyll, Scotland – near Arrochar and Inveraray. The name ‘Butterbridge’ was given by locals as it was used by the women of the region to drive their cattle to summer pastures and bring their butter and cheese to market. The road has been re-routed and a subsequent bridge has been built, however, it is a lovely simple stone bridge made from local stone by local people in a time of great trouble – what has been described by Scottish poet Robert Burns as “Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn”.

Lunch with friends

Our first stop is an invitation to lunch with some friends from Perth [WA] who were on holiday in Scotland and renting a house in the nearby town of Arrochar. They had discovered the nearby Loch Fyne Restaurant and Oyster Bar and recommended that we should meet for lunch. As our friends were ‘foodies’ we agreed and drove there with high expectations.

The restaurant had also received very good comments on social media – so our expectations were high. Most reviews were excellent or very good, although some warned that the food is not cheap, and some comments appear to be a little pernickety.  After all this is a roadside restaurant located in a remote location, on the side of a Scottish Loch.

As we travel through the countryside, occasionally gasping at the splendor, my wife provides a commentary from their website, the Loch Fyne Restaurant and Oyster Bar promises an award winning restaurant with meals from the finest ingredients and how this particular restaurant was the inspiration for a whole chain of Loch Fyne Restaurants. …. “Throughout our product range we strive to achieve consistency of quality through taste, texture and genuine provenance. Loch Fyne products are ethically sourced and provide an indulgent, yet naturally healthy treat. We are proud to harvest the pure waters of the Loch and bring you the salmon, seafood and oysters that will add a sense of prestige and style to any dining occasion.”

In time we left the major roads behind and drove along narrow twisting roads, through villages with small whitewashed stone houses, slate roofs – with many homes decorated with colourful flower boxes and gardens.

After an enjoyable hour and half drive through the magnificence of Scotland, we arrive with a hearty appetite and positive expectations of an enjoyable, but not cheap, lunch. And yes, the lunch met our expectations good company, some holiday tales were told, the usual commentary on Scottish weather. In sum, the venue was whitewashed and pleasant, the service could not be faulted and the lady who served us had a caring manner. The mussels, salmon, oysters, and fish chowder met the promised quality of their website and not overpriced – by Australian standards. After bidding farewell to our friends and wishing them better weather we headed off to our overnight stay in the nearby town, Inveraray.


Inveraray, I have been informed, was the first planned village of Scotland.

Inverary Castle is within walking distance – this is the home to the Duke of Argyle, the chief of the Campbell clan and his family. Although, Inveraray Castle has always been a popular tourist attraction, it gained attention and admiration after it was selected as the location for the 2012 Christmas episode of Downton Abbey. In this episode the Grantham family visit their Scottish ‘cousins’ and a drama unfolds [apparently]. The episode showcases the magnificent building, the ornate decor, the formal gardens and as this is Scotland – stunning scenery. It has been 30 years since my last visit to Inveraray Castle and it is clear, from the improvements and the cafe, that the present Duke and Duchess are putting considerable effort to maintain this grand home and the surrounding lands.

Overall, it has been a great day and we enjoyed two different but satisfying meals. I guess I should go to a social media site and post my comments – but I didn’t. However, out of academic curiosity, I am sufficiently motivated to revisited the social media sites of both the Loch Fyne Restaurant and Oyster Bar and The George Hotel. I knew, from the travelling commentary, that both restaurants had great reviews. The question was how close to our experiences were the comments of other customers. I decided to analyse the comments of 100 customers from each establishment and the results suggest that many customers are only sufficiently motivated to make a post when they have experienced something unexpected and then they tend to reward or punish appropriately. It also appeared as if they quality of their day leading up to the experience may have influenced their overall evaluation.

The next morning, over a hearty Scottish breakfast, we agree that it would be nice to stay a little longer in Inveraray, but, with a ferry to catch and full of anticipation for Islay we load up the Ford Focus and headed for the ferry terminal at Kennacraig.


After studying the total product concept and the confirmation and disconfirmation of expectations model in themarketingconcept [e-book] discuss how past experiences, social media may influence consumer expectations and how expectations influence customer evaluations of satisfaction. [note as you employ the language of marketing ensure that you show an understanding by explaining key terms]  

Islay – ‘the whisky isle’

 Islay [pronounced eyelah] is one of the five Scottish protected whisky localities; it is located off the west coast of Scotland and is one of the southernmost islands of the inner Hebridean Islands. There is a regular modern car ferry that connects the island with the Scottish mainland – in recent years whisky lovers from around the world have made whisky pilgrimages to Islay.

The whisky of Islay is characterised by a smokey peat flavour which is infused during the distillation process. The island is relatively small and all the distilleries will be visited; they are Ardberg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Cao Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin, Laphroaig. However, meetings were scheduled with Bruichladdich and Kilchoman as both organisations are great exemplars of marketing.

As we wandered around the main town of Bowmore we came across The Celtic House. This is a shop that focuses on Islay and Scottish products. It is an interesting shop and I have to say a little too interesting given the baggage allowances of airlines.  The Celtic House has a carefully selected collection of books and I discover and purchase the Islay Roadbooks by Gudrun and Heinz Fesl.   The books are a rich collection of photographs and succinct descriptions, however, the authors include a map for each set of photographs and the books and our trusty Lonely Planet Guide were a great way of uncovering some of Islay’s gems.


Task: Although Islay is relatively unknown as a tourist destination it is rather unique – as many people return on a regular basis – if you were a manager of a tourist destination how would you manage the aggregate product to create loyal tourists who generated word of mouth but returned time and time again.

islay woolen mills

One such gem is the Islay Woollen Mills. Visiting the weaving mills is like stepping back in time and we soon find out that Gordon and Sheila’s fabrics are in high demand from tailors to the rich and royal, fashion houses searching for uniqueness, and movies directors searching for cloth for to add a degree of authenticity to their productions. His cloth has featured in an impressive collection of movies, including Braveheart, Stars including Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks Lian Neeson, Will Smith, and Mel Gibson have used cloth made by Gordon to enhance their roles. In addition to the cloth there are jackets, scarves, and rugs on sale. Gordon provided a tour of the mill and later told me that when the mill was first built in 1883 it was powered by a water wheel, the waterwheel may have long gone but much of the early machinery remains – although some looks as if it will never run again it add atmosphere to the visitors experience. Like many who have a passion for preserving the past Gordon questions what will happen to this method of weaving cloth when he can no longer continue. It is easy to forget that there was a time when water and wind powered the industrial revolution of Britain.


a magnificent example of perseverance and strategic intent – truly inspirational

Bryony, my contact at Kilchoman provided a guided tour of the distillery; her passion and knowledge were contagious and she gave us a great tour and an enjoyable tasting of their whiskies. We were fortunate to have in our little group, Trevor, a whisky expert and a partner in the Caledonia: Scottish Whisky Bar in New York. Trevor was on a ‘working holiday’ and his passion for whisky was evangelical, whisky is clearly a big part of his life, this was evident not only in the way he carefully examined every aspect of their distilling process but also in the questions he asked our host. It was nice to have Trevor along as he provided an opinion leader’s perspective.

My contact at Kilchoman was Bryony and she provided a guided tour of the distillery; her passion and knowledge were contagious and she gave us a great tour and an enjoyable tasting of their whiskies. We were fortunate to have in our little group, Trevor, a whisky expert and a partner in the Caledonia: Scottish Whisky Bar in New York. Trevor was on a ‘working holiday’ and his passion for whisky was evangelical, whisky is clearly a big part of his life, this was evident not only in the way he carefully examined every aspect of their distilling process but also in the questions he asked our host. It was nice to have Trevor along as he provided an opinion leader’s perspective.

After our distillery tour Bryony and I had a little chat and she provided a background to Kilchoman and Islay life.

According to Bryony; Kilchoman have had an amazing journey and their success is all the more incredible given that they have only been producing spirit for 10 years.  She believed that part of the Kilchoman success is due to the growing prestige of Islay whisky. She explains, that whisky is very much part of Islay – living on an island we [whisky producers] are geographically connected but we are also philosophically connected through out passion for fine whisky –  Islay could be described as a whisky community. Many of the people work for a distillery and it is not unusual for members of the same family to work in for the same or different distilleries.

She explains that Islay has a long history of good and bad times. Many of the people on Islay remember when the whisky industry was depressed, they know that distilleries can close, when we were working reduced hours, when there was high unemployment – and this impacted on the whole community.  She emphasizes that what has to be kept in mind, is that Kilchoman is the first new distillery on Islay for 124 years. Today, she explains things are different, because of the success of Islay whiskies there is new life on the island and a generation not forced to leave the island in search of work. This, she explains, is important because Islay is our home this is where we choose to live. Bryony believes that because they are all in this together they are competitive but also collaborative and she finds that the whisky community on Islay is incredibly supportive of each other primarily because it provides employment.

Bryony has a valid point. As we tour the island the remnants of abandoned crofter cottages, the stone and grass shadows of abandon villages, with decaying churches and thistle encrusted graveyards are dotted throughout. The abandonments are memorials to the depopulation of Islay. With the full belly of a modern tourist one can only attempt to imagine the stuggle, pain, sacrifice, hunger, and despair that drove these people from their land and homes. Often this exodus is described by the word diaspora – a time when large numbers of a population are driven from their communities not with the hope of a better life but the fear of what will happen if they stay. As Bryony outlines even in recent times if you had a job you stayed but if you didn’t have a job or lost your job you left Islay. I guess few communities have this sense of need to collaborate and perhaps as we hear often Islay’s future is its past.

I ask Bryony that it is one thing to work together and have a sense of community but why is there this new optimism? Bryony explains That drinking whisky has become more fashionable – people are more ‘involved’ in whisky –  it is an obsession for many, and they want to taste different whiskys – marketing practitioners refer to this as searching for epistemic qualities. She explains that this obsession for whisky has also generated what we call ‘whisky tourism’. We are now having people visiting Islay from parts of the world that we never had – and this brings people together. She explains that on her distillery tours she hears so many people, from so many different parts of the world, who have just met, talking and making friends – connections are being formed. Our visitors tend to engage in a style of conversation that I call a ‘happy banter’ – to compete for attention. They want to show-off their knowledge – what is their favourite whisky, what they can taste in the whisky, their personal preference for a particular whisky – perhaps a small drop of water to ‘open out’ the whisky or whether they prefer it neat. When people come to Islay their appreciation of whisky matures and I like to think that I play my part in that process and help them understand that at Kilchoman we have something that is quite unique, we are on a farm, there are advantages of being on this farm, it gives us a sense of who we are, and we have a founder, Anthony, his wife Cathy and sons George, James and Peter, who are all very much part of each bottle of whisky we produce – the staff at Kilhoman are family led and I guess it is about staying true to our roots. The boys all travel and promote Kilchoman – last year they did a European promotional tour, 7000 miles around European in the branded Landrover, doing tastings for our supporters, visiting and setting up distributors and stockist of Kilchoman Whisky.

As we walk around the shop, I complement her on the shop. Thank you – what is interesting is that when we first started the shop and the café were there to help support the business – to provide the needed cash flow. Now it is still important but as the business has developed it has a different role – it is still important as part of the overall Kilchoman experience but we are not so dependent on it now. I speak with a couple from Malaysia and I ask if they are buying gifts for their family and the tell me that they are gifts – but gifts for themselves. Perhaps these gifts will be purposefully ‘on show’ in their home in Kuala Lumpur, not as mementos of a whisky distillery tour but to identify them as collectors of epistemic experiences.

An interview with Anthony Wills

Bryony introduces me to Anthony Wills the founder and Managing Director of Kilchoman and we begin to have chat. He explains. Our philosophy is pretty simple and straightforward we target the premium end of the market and to do that we have to provide a uniqueness in our whisky – so we began the distillery on a working farm, the objective is to enable us to have much more control of the entire production process. Anthony explains that this appeals to whisky drinkers who want a product that is more carefully crafted and genuinely comes from Islay including the barley and the malting process. Thankfully our customers like what we produce and this has driven demand and our capacity. We produced 50,000 liters of pure alcohol in 2005 and this year we will produce 200,000 litres –  so that is a big step for us. At present we now have the capacity to produce 250,000 litres now that is 600,000 bottles at 40% alcohol and depending on the demand we will look at it and see where we will head – we just have be cautious and careful. Clearly with the whisky industry and the long production time you need to forecast and invest with the next 6-7 years in mind. Nevertheless, we have had great interest in our whisky and have increased production every year.

We built Kilchoman to take advantage in the increased interest in whisky, I think if we built this distillery 10 years earlier it would have been a different story, there would have been less interest and we would have struggled to get recognised – the market wasn’t ready at that stage. And they weren’t ready to try new brands they very much stuck to the known brands. Only in the last 10-15 years has this interest in new whiskys developed – this has led to new distilleries being planned in Scotland but also around the world. Scotland remains the traditional home for whisky and Islay whisky is iconic whisky producing region within Scotland and Islay has 7 other very established and respected brands and these two factors have played a key role in our success.  However, major conglomerates own all the other Islay distilleries. Therefore we stand out as the only family owned Islay distillery. We set out to have a different story and people have been very receptive and bought into that small niche premium, crafted, part of a farm and so we have been at the right place at the right time.  I have been in the drinks business my entire career and I saw a gap in the market and it was a leap of faith to move to Islay, my wife, Cathy has known Islay her entire life, her family had been coming to Islay when she was a child, and when we first met we would come to Islay and the when we were married we would come here, so I have been coming here for 30-35 years, so in some ways the story unfolded – but is was a big gamble as it is hugely expensive to set up a distillery. We did struggle in the first few years and we were fortunate that market demand changed to younger whiskys and consumers were also willing to experiment with younger whiskeys. If we had put our product on the market 20 years ago then – we would have been laughed at, 10 year old whisky was the youngest Scotch whisky that was offered to the market. I had noticed that younger whiskys were becoming more available and although 10 year whisky was and to some extent still is the benchmark people are now also willing to purchase whisky according to the quality and taste, rather than simply the age. This movement to younger whisky has a lot to do with the cask maturation process that distilleries have adopted, better wood and greater emphasis on quality, I think also the growing demand for whisky means that there is less older whisky available and older whisky is now more collectible – people have set up new businesses based on the scarcity of whisky and you now have auction houses and this can only be good for the industry as a whole. So really the consumer has changed, the market has changed, and therefore product that distilleries produce has changed. There were a number of people that drove this change before we did [it is interesting that a person who has achieved so much is willing to acknowledge the input of others].

Initially we rented the building on the farm and we only bought the farm in November 2015, and this will give us more freedom to do what we need to do – for example we can grow more barley, put up the buildings we need – without the constraints of a lease. So buying the farm and the family are the future. All the family is involved and our three sons are involved in all the sales and marketing and we now export to over 40 countries around the world and so it is important to visit those markets and taste and talk with existing and potential customers and through that build the brand.

We also understand that when you have the long term say the next 20, 30 , 40 years in mind – we cannot become greedy – we have to serve our customers and value the support of our customers and we have to realize that consumers will turn against us if we get it wrong and lose their trust.  We have to build the brand.


Statement: in the interview with Bryony she talks about the spirit of collaboration on Islay, the recognition that the future of Islay as a destination/brand is in the hands of its people; in the interview with Anthony he talks about how the future of Kilchoman as a product/brand is in the hands of his family.

Task: Reflect on how you see this spirit of collaboration and competition.

Statement: Anthony’s experience in the wine industry and his knowledge of the French wine industry most likely influenced his strategic thinking – and his ideas on provenance.

Task: Reflect on how an organisational philosophy is cultivated and how it shapes strategic intentions & the strategic business & marketing plans.


‘we believe that terroir matters’

​The Scottish, Bruichladdich distillery is located on the southwestern part of a remote Hebridean island. On this particular morning it was clear skies and sunny – everything was looking its best.

After a short, scenic and pleasant drive through pastures, woodlands, across stone bridges, past whitewashed buildings and along the banks of Loch Indaal I arrived at Bruichladdich Distillery. Bruichladdich’s distillery can be thought of as old yet new  – a marketing renaissance – and one of the great marketing stories where a brand is rescued and restored – and becomes even stronger.

In the Bruichladdich shop I met Chrissie who has worked in the ‘new’ Bruichladdich Distillery since 2001 and is now involved in exports. She explained that the ‘old’ Bruichladich was founded in 1881 by three brothers and eventually fell on hard times. She explained that the buildings were derelict when ‘a group of investors bought the place and virtually raised it from the dead’. The shop, she indicates with a wave of her hand, was in the old days a warehouse. Much of the equipment and machinery, that you will see in the distillery, was here and obviously it needed repairs and maintenance, but, fortunately Duncan McGillivray the general manager was a mechanic and had a lifetime of experience in distillery mechanics.

Walking through the shop she asks – ‘Have you tried our Gin – The Botanist? … The gin has been a great success and the botanicals that are infused into the gin are from the island. We are the only ones doing gin on the island and it is a big thing now’. Chrissie then introduces me to Carl Reavey.

An interview with Carl Reavey of Bruichladdich Distillery

‘I have been involved since the start of the Bruichladdich renaissance, but I haven’t always worked for the distillery. What happened was I became quite friendly with Mark Reynier and Simon Coughlin when they used to stay at my hotel. In the beginning the private company had very, very little money. But they had the support of the people of the island and most people chipped in different ways to assist and try and resurrect this place and I was one of those who worked in the background. I am not saying that there wasn’t business in it for me there was and my hotel was well used by the distillery. In time, I started to assist with some of the marketing. When I sold the hotel I became the editor of the local newspaper and my wife worked for Simon. Then with time I started to work on a more formal basis, but still as a contractor, websites etc. Then the takeover happened and whilst most saw it as a good thing, as a fantastic achievement, and as inevitable Mark, one of the founding partners, fought the takeover. He is a fantastic entrepreneurial character and a brilliant marketer but would find it difficult to work for a big corporation and all that comes with big corporations – he is amazing and likes to be the oppose the status quo. So when he left I was brought in to do the PR and communications for the organisation.

I feel that the new found interest in whisky is not across the board; sure there is an increase in single malts but sales in blended whisky are probably static. It is interesting that you chose to interview Bruichladdich and Kilchoman and ourselves because we share more in common with Kilchoman than any other distillery – without doubt. Really it gets down to a philosophy and how we make whiskies- we are philosophically similar. Bruichladdich closed in 1994 after a long and to be honest not such an illustrious past as they were basically producing single malt whisky which they sold to blenders of whisky. There was a checkered history of ownership, the original family lost control and it was shuffled from pillar to post until it was acquired in a hostile takeover by Whiteman McKay; when they bought Invergordon. They shut Bruichladdich as it was surplus to their requirement. The distillery was well designed, however, it had little spent on it and it was extremely tired and no one expected it to open again. There was stock and little by little the remaining stock was sold off and it looked like it was ‘curtains’. Then in 2000 a group of private investors led by two London based wine merchants bought the distillery and dramatically changed its fortunes and also the way it was promoted.

I would have to say that the way they promoted Bruichladdich was the profoundly different than the way any other whisky brand had been promoted previously or since. It sent shock waves across the industry in 2012 because the private company had purchase Bruichladdich for 7 million pounds in 2000 and sold it to Remy Cointreau for 58 million pound.  What we can see from the purchase price is that Remy Cointreau were willing to pay a considerable premium simply for the position that Bruichladdich now occupied in the whisky consumers’ mind.  What the private investors did was to stop selling the remaining stock to blenders – they made a decision to only sell the remaining stock as single malt whisky, also they recognised that although the distillery was let’s say – ‘elderly’ they would respect the design of the distillery, not introduce any form of automation, and therefore continue to make whisky by hand the old fashion way using people rather than people. This the opposite of the trend in the industry which said, reduce staff and automate, automate, automate consequently the number of people employed in whisky production on Islay had dropped dramatically because of automation.

So let’s look at what they had just done; they had severed ties with their B2B customers, they had no B2C customers, and owned an unknown brand name. Keep in mind very, very few people new that Bruichladdich existed let alone new that it was a very interesting single malt whisky. But what we had was very principled and passionate people who approached all decisions from a marketing philosophy that belonged to fine wine – in particular burgundy wines. So you can imagine that central to every marketing decision was this idea of terroir. The idea that there was a connection between the land, the climate, the barley, the water the people and the whisky.


So terroir became absolutely central to the product – as it is in burgundy.  So when they found that the connection between place and the product had little or no connection they were absolutely shocked – gobsmacked. Let’s look at barley most distillers were only interested in yield – that means the amount of alcohol that could be rendered from a ton of barley. I believe that even today barley is thought of, in almost every distillery, by quantity of alcohol rendered rather than quality of flavour and the character the barley brings to the whisky.

A number of provocative statements were made by Bruichladdich at the time. They stated that a number of distilleries were accessing the barley on the open market and no one knew where it was coming from – sure some was being grown in Scotland but from many other countries and supplied by grain merchants who consolidated the different barley to be shipped to Islay.Once on Islay it would be malted perhaps by a contract malter, delivered to the distiller, where it would be turned into spirit and transferred to road tankers and shipped off the island to huge mainland filling tanks where it would be loaded into casks and then stored on the mainland until it was bottled. Consider this – it had spent one week of its life on Islay, yet, it was branded as Islay whisky. When this story was taken up by the press, mainstream distillers were furious that a hidden truth about the industry was exposed – that whisky was being sold as brands. Traditionally, whisky distillers were so preoccupied with consistency – it had to look and taste exactly the same; now the only way to achieve that is to take a natural process and industrialise it. Some were adding caramel to appropriately colour their product creating a myth that if the whisky was darker in colour it was older – which is not the case.

Bruichladdich declared that they would never add colour even although it was standard practice – this upset the whisky industry. So what is interesting is that when the company was purchased it was not purchased by another whisky company but by Remy Cointreau , whose concept is fundamentally terroir and understand that what we were trying to do is to produce whisky as if we were fine wine producers. So Bruichladdich went 180 degrees away from the homogenous whiskies and started to celebrate variety, nuance, vintage different cask types, different types of barley different harvests, including organic barleys and ancient bere barleys that were traditional Scottish barleys used by crofters to make whisky – this led to over 432 different varieties of whisky over 11 years.​

The other thing that Bruichladdich did was to reject all the typical Scottish whisky icons that adorn whisky packaging – stag heads, and shortbread type tartan and misty Scottish Glens and once again do completely the opposite and adopt a minimalist and modern style. Bruichladdich have a traditional approach to whisky making and a modernist approach to packaging Which is a contrast to other distilleries who have modern industrial approach to whisky making and have Scottish stereotype packaging.

So it is a fascinating story and like many successful marketing stories Bruichladdich is the story of a group of mavericks that questioned and challenged the conventions of an industry. Mavericks who closely listened, researched and analysed the trends and often went their own way.

Quote Carl Reavey: “In many regards Kilchoman are similar as they are very astute and independent thinkers; they too are interested in provenance, terroir, being authentic and hand made and 100% Islay made. Their marketing is what they do and say and not a mainland agency. I can tell you that those guys at Kilcholman have sweated blood to achieve what they achieved – they sweated blood and I may work for a competitor, but I love their story. Their message is simple and authentic and like Bruichladdich the product we make is everything and the message is secondary.”


Task: Identify the Key Success Factors in the above quote and consider how this commitment would shape the strategic thinking of the organisation of the Kilcholman and Bruichladdich distilleries.

Task: When we talked about profits we mentione that marketing is about profits for the customer, profits for the organisation, profits for the channel partners, and profits for the society. Reflect on the exemplar and consider the 4 types of profits.


one of the most beautiful yet melancholy places on the planet

When some think about market conditions & events that shape the lives of people many people of Scottish ethnicity think of Glencoe, the enclosures, highland clearances and emigration [voluntary or involuntary]. Today, it is positioned in people’s mind for the wild scenery and outdoor activities in nearby Fort William. As you can imagine it has featured in a number of movies.

Our time on Islay – the whisky isle – has come to an end. We promise that we will return. It is easy to see how people come to this magical place and fall under its spell. Putting aside the hardships of surviving on a small island that is often impacted by economic forces beyond its control – Islay offers a simple life in a beautiful landscape within a community of beautiful people. We promise to be good ambassadors for Islay – in many ways promise to be ambassadors for the Islay brand.

To leave Islay we return to the ferry terminal.

Once again there are plenty of cyclists. I strike up a conversation with a young couple from the U.S. and they tell me that they have been cycling and camping in Scotland for a month. It turns out that Scotland is a bit of a favourite with their camping-cycling friends as it has an outdoor access code – this gives travelers camping access to most land and water as long as you stay within the boundaries, respect the rights of others and leave no trace. The cyclists tell me that every once in a while the splurge and stay in a B&B and get a little luxury and talk about the pleasure of a warm bath. The couple are about half way through their adventure and took the time out from their engineering jobs, when they return they will be ready to start a family. I asked the couple whether they believe this investment in time, effort, and money will be a defining [seminal] moment in their lives and they believe it will be, and anticipated it would be when planning their trip; they added that in many ways it was also a journey ‘in search of self – otherwise it would not be worth the pain’. When I looked at their faces reddened by the elements and their eyes full of enthusiasm I wondered what would be their memories in 30 years time – and speculated whether they would return to Scotland as Anna and I had. We will never know – Clifford Geertz, the anthropologist, observed that “One of the most significant facts about humanity may finally be that we all begin with the natural equipment to a live a thousand kinds of life but end in the end having lived only one.”

The ferry was a simple process marked by a clunk on, a visit to the restaurant, a wander around the ship, and a clunk as we headed off. Although the journey from Islay was very similar to the journey to Islay, we had chosen a different ferry route and this time we would get off in Oban. Sailing into Oban was a little like a homecoming for Anna and I, we had stayed there in 1986 and had a very memorable time. The town is very much the same except for a few large national supermarkets. We had elected to stay in Fort William, for 4 nights and had intended to have a good look around before heading off, however, the weather was foul and the Ford Focus was warm and we gave it a miss but we did return a few days later.

We were following the GPS but the weather was inclement and being unfamiliar with roads we took a wrong turn. One minute we were 34 miles to our destination the next we were 77 miles. Something kept us on the longer road and it was really a blessing as we entered Glencoe from the most scenic route.

I have to say Glencoe is one of the most stunning places that I have ever experienced. Glencoe is also a favourite of Anna’s and over the years she has tried to describe it to many friends. As we travel through the Scottish country side she is reading the Lonely Planet description to me.  I could sense Anna’s excitement as we approached. At times the clouds were low as squalls came racing towards us, then the squall would pass and suddenly a whole new world would appear in front of us – the road winding into the distance, the mountains, striped with vertical waterfalls, shafts of sunlight spotlighting the landscape and creating areas of sunlight and shadows.

In many ways Glencoe is like a summary of Scotland – beautiful, rugged, and yet often a place of suffering.

We leave Glencoe behind and continue on our journey towards Fort William. Fort William is a major tourist centre. Many people visit Fort William because it is convenient to many well known landmarks of Scotland and has accommodation to suit most budgets. Fort William is also known as the outdoor capital of Britain, it attracts walkers as it is at one end of the West Highland Way a trek between Glasgow and Fort William and the Great Glen Way a trek between Fort William and Inverness.  Climbers find Fort William convenient due to closeness of Ben Nevis; the tallest mountain in Britain – Ben Nevis hangs over the town. Mountain bikers find Fort William attractive for the number and variety of world class tracks. For the less adventuresome there are many scenic drives with a number of shorter and less arduous walks. It should come as no surprise that many of the shops on the main street are in some way connected to meeting the needs of tourists. There are plenty of shops supplying equipment for the adventure seeking tourist.

Glenfinnan’s monument

Glenfinnan’s monument is special for Anna and I; we visited the monument in 1986. We had seen a film that was set in Scotland ‘Local Hero’, we loved the soundtrack by Mark Knofler, and decided to visit the three key locations in the film. So we were passing through this historic sight without much knowledge of its place in Scottish history.

In those dark days of Margaret Thatcher, I would cautiously suggest the the Scottish people were beginning to sense the importance of their Scottish identity and it is amazing to see how this movement has progressed. As we travelled along the road to Mallaig we spotted a monument on our left. Did a U-turn and parked the car. The photographs were taken on a Canon AE1+program, which was great camera, we had saved up for a long time as it was about 20% the cost of a typical new car, it was arguably the top amateur camera of the time. One photograph was particularly special. This is a one-off photograph [the type professional photographers would sleep in a tent in the rain for three nights just to capture] the photograph has adorned the wall of our kitchen ever since and receives a great deal of interest, Anna even chose the colour of the ‘feature’ wall to suit the photograph.

So we planned to revisit Glenfinnan’s monument and try to recapture some of the magic and refresh our memories.  When the original photograph of Glenfinnan’s monument was taken it was mid April and the tail end of a very cold winter, the grassland was the colours of Harris Tweed and the mountains were a series of fading silhouttes, the mountains were snow-capped. Truth be told, this was another happenstance encounter, we pulled into the empty car park read about the statue from our Fromer’s guide book [no Google in those days], crossed the road, then I took three quick photos a portrait [snap] and two landscapes [snap, snap] – it was freezing that day and we were glad to get back into the car.

In those days cameras had a roll of film, then you would deliver the film to an authorized Kodak chemist who would send the films away for processing. When you collected the images from the chemist you would be charged per negative and per photograph. There was always a degree of uncertainty and anticipation and also some excitement when the yellow Kodak folder was opened. It was not like now where you immediately evaluate the quality of the photograph. For our 1986 ‘grand tour’ of Europe, I had elected to collect all the rolls of film from the holiday and wait till I was back in Australia and have them developed. In those days, it was common fear, that airport x-rays machines could effect the quality of film and with this in mind I stored the exposed films in an empty toffee tin. I then stored the tin, our camera, a Walkman and five audio cassettes; one of which was ‘Local Hero’ in a camera bag which I carried with me everywhere. You may have noticed that I said ‘our’ camera because there was time when it was common for a couple to share a camera – but not now – everyone has the own – and phones are a very personal possession.

What adds to the story of the Glenfinnan photograph, is that we lost the negatives for some months. What happened was that later in our travels we were mugged at The Amsterdam Train Station. I had sensed that someone was following us, I just thought it was a pest, and when we made a phone call at a public phone box, keep in mind this is a time before mobile phones, I was pushed, lost my balance someone grabbed my camera bag and ran off, strange but I can still see this person in my mind to this day. It is funny how long-term memory works – long greasy brown hair, skinny face pointed jaw and wearing blue jeans and a grey parka jacket – he looked back to see if I was chasing – I didn’t. I was more worried what would happen to Anna if I did. Later, perhaps with a little cognitive dissonance, I reasoned that it was perhaps lucky I didn’t chase him as I may have been knifed or worse. What happened was someone found the camera bag in a rubbish bin, handed it to the Amsterdam Police, they sent it to the Australian embassy, who sent it to us. Unfortunately, missing from the bag was the camera, the Walkman and four of the five tapes [a Glen Campbell tape was rejected by our mugger and was still in the bag], fortunately, the toffee tin and the rolls of film were still in the bag.  In time, the films were developed and ‘put into’ a photograph album – which we look at from time to time. One of the negatives I had enlarged and mounted – as consumer behaviouralist, Russell Belk suggests, our photograph are not really true representations of the events but carefully selected and sanitized versions of events. So the photograph has a story. I often wonder if the our camera had a good life and did it take lots of happy photographs – for the record the camera was insured and whilst the full value was never retrieved we did receive something.

I often think about that bag when I am thinking about marketing theory – in that bag are a few marketing stories.

One is a story of product lifecycle, that products are continually being replaced by newer and better products, of consumers that are on a quest for new and better satisfying products, of companies that disappear simply because they fell a little behind and were no longer considered best satisfying.  It is interesting how things evolve, for example, in those days half the contents of our hire car are in our smartphones. The maps, the notebook with our itinery, the camera, the rolls of film for a camera, the Walkman, the audio cassettes, the postcards we bought to send – etc etc were all separate items back them. Today my smartphone has copies of my tickets, has a set of maps with voice directions, 1000s of songs, has a camera, a video, it stores the photographs in albums, has an app that replaced the need for postcards and even made public phone boxes obsolete. The takeaway is that, regardless of whether you consider marketing from a consumer or an organisation’s perspective, marketing is the quest for best satisfying products.

Within the bag there is also a story is about a ‘young couple’ who with a number of expectations, planned an adventure, and were mugged and lost a bag, however, when the entire holiday was evaluated, when they consider what they got and what they gave – had ‘the holiday of a lifetime’. This is the example I think of when I consider how each episode/event/exchange is evaluated and then how all of these are mentally bundled together and are cumulatively evaluated. It suggests that whilst each episode is often a series of separate products, they can come together to form what could be described as ‘the aggregate product’. An aggregate product is the sum of all of the total products that fall under the one experience umbrella. Some products, particularly tourism products are a composite of total products sure they are evaluated individually, however, they are also evaluated cumulatively by each tourist and collectively by all tourists. A destination is evaluated individually, cumulatively, and collectively. Anna and I cannot recall the cost of each meal we had on that holiday 30 years ago we just recall that the entire holiday – the aggregate product was a seminal event in our lives.

The final marketing story is about ‘our mugger’ a person who, most likely, had a habit, was living on the darker side of consumption and had needs that were so demanding that they could only be satisfied by mugging, stealing, and selling. Did he know that what he was doing was wrong? – of course he did – but perhaps he had no choice – seminal products, product that change your life, also happen on the dark side of consumption.

An exceptional B&B

During the first time zone of the buyer decision process consumers, search for products and select products where there is a perception of the most positive outcome – consider possible outcomes. When considering alternative products unacceptable products are eliminated and others are estimated according to perceptions of value – with classifications of adequate, predictive, equitable, and ideal. Although we hope for ideal – often the outcome is adequate or to an industry standard [predictive.  However, every now and then we receive service that is exceptional – this exemplar looks at a bed and breakfast establishment that standout from the rest.

Our B&B, the Alt-An lodge, is on the main street and easy to find. We are greeted by Margaret, then, we meet her husband Trevor[it appears they have since sold their business]. Then, Margaret takes us to our room. The home is spotless, our room is comfortable and we are invited to treat this as home for the next 4 nights. It has been a long day since we left Islay, a fair bit longer because of the navigation error, but an enjoyable day. We are hungry and Margaret suggests a few places to try, she warns us that this is the ‘height of the summer season’ and getting a table may be difficult.

Margaret asks us to order our breakfast before we head out for the town.

We head out, just for the record we waved to the other cars but no one waved back, Fort William is quite a big city and this is different to Islay. We parked the car, bought a parking ticket and walked to the main street.  After a few knock backs ‘do you have a reservation’ – we are welcomed and ushered upstairs by a friendly wait person – who is working at the restaurant as her school job – she tells us that if we want alcohol she will have to get one of her ‘friends to take that order as she is only allowed to take food orders …’.

We look around and chat about what the other diners are ordering and notice that the burger did come with ‘a good portion of chips’ as promised and is very popular. I elect to wash the burger down with a pint of local craft beer.  It was a good choice. The main meal was very good quality and value for money.

Then, we spot the desserts on the next table and decide to order the most glorious ice-cream sundaes.  The quality of Scottish ice-cream has to be tasted to be believed.

The bed at our B & B was big and comfortable, the pillow had depth and firmness, the sheets clean and crisp. There is nothing like the feeling of slipping into such a bed at the end of such a day.

When I went to the breakfast room my wife, Anna, was in a deep conversation with Margaret in her kitchen – so I left them to it. Anna has always been drawn to capable people and she has a keen interest in cooking. Trevor came in to the breakfast room and we chatted about our day, we mentioned we had planned a trip to Glenfinnan Village a little settlement between Fort William and Mallaig. For a person interested in the history of of Scotland [or the history of Harry Potter] this is an area of interest. It is the site of the Glenfinnan’s Monument and the Glenfinnan Viaduct [the iconic bridge in the Harry potter movie]. The monument is located on the edge of Loch Sheil, it is a round dark stone tower with the statue of a clansman with his back to the Loch looking up to his land. According to the Visit Scotland website Glenfinnan’s monument was built in 1815 as a memorial for the ‘Jacobites’ a group of clansmen, who supported Scottish independence and died fighting the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (AKA Bonnie Prince Charles). This uprising, which started full of promise, when BPC raised a flag and declared himself the rightful King of England and Scotland, came to a tragic end at the Battle of Culloden around 8 months later.

After a truly special breakfast; Trevor returned to the breakfast room, he had printed off some maps, provided estimated drive times and gave us other suggestions for the day – good walking shoes and wet weather gear. We knew we had found an exception bed and breakfast.

The Lime Tree

word of mouth is important, nurturing the relationships that are the source of word of mouth is essential

If you asked anyone they would agree that word of mouth is super important, however, seldom do business owners ask – how did you find out about us? Know and rewarding people who are advocates and evangelist for your product should be considered.

We return to Alt-An Lodge, freshened up and then Trevor volunteers to drop us off at a restaurant that has been recommended by Margaret.  The Lime Tree is part boutique hotel, part art gallery and part restaurant. It is owned and run by Newcastle born David Wilson. David finds Fort William, the natural place for an artist, keen mountaineer, and mountain bike rider.  The Lime Tree Restaurant has built a fine reputation for quality dining characterized by the finest local ingredients and quality service.

Our meal was very nice and the service of a fine standard with the wait staff being friendly, attentive, and polite. After analyzing 100 Social media reviews the majority confirmed our expectations – it was a great dining experience. Nevertheless, social media suggests that two common challenges facing service organisation pop up every now and then – managing the inseparability of staff and customers and managing the variability of staff. Every once in a while, it appears as if some staff member forgot that a restaurant is like theatre and therefore they are like the actors on a set and their performance, frontstage and backstage, will be reviewed by their audience [customers]. There are also a number of customers who question whether the meals were value for money – perhaps every once in a while the Lime Tree attracts someone outside their target market – who would be better with a hearty pub meal. Also, after delving deeper into the reviews of some disappointed customers it appears as if some customers had extremely high expectations, were just hard to please, or only posted reviews when their expectations were not met.

We were chatting with a group of ladies, who were all nursing sore feet after a week’s walk on the West Highland Way, they all enjoyed their meal, wine and telling stories. They also found out about the Lime Tree from the people at their B&B. I am sure that David does the PR thing well – he is that kind of person.

However, I am often amazed when business owners, especially in a reasonably small town such as Fort William, don’t ask how did you find out about us?

It is one thing to have a great restaurant, it is another to get the right people to know your product and to recommend you, and it is another for people to recommend you long-term.  It is important that marketing practitioners put in place strategies to identify the people who recommend a business and reward the people who drive customers to their business.

Perhaps, in a place like Fort William an event could be held at the start of a ‘summer season’ to ensure that the right people, the owners of B&Bs, are rewarded and remain advocates for the business.

This is the difference between a salespipeline and a salesdrain.



What strategies could an organisation such as a restaurant in a tourist town undertake to ensure that the other small business owners [e.g., B&B owners] are shown appreciation for their efforts.

At the risk of sounding like a camera snob.

So we headed off to Glenfinnan, the monument and via duct car park had around 150 cars, the morning was cold for summer, a light wind and moderate steady rain. To view and take photographs of the Jacobite Express [AKA the Harry Potter train] we walked past the steamed up windows of the visitors’ centre and headed up the hill to one of the recommended vantage points.  We were early and managed to get a good spot.

As a marketing academic and a keen amateur photographer I naturally scan for makes and types of cameras – I can’t help myself; generally, I look to see the model that tells me the age of the camera; sometimes I will ask a fellow traveller if they bought the camera for this trip – after all my job is to observe consumers.  This group on the hill were mainly Nikon, then Canon and then Lumix cameras. Most of the cameras were in the low to mid price range.  A few were more expensive and had what are referred to as ‘full-framed’ cameras some had tripods set up – a zoom lens over 200mm needs steadying over this distance. We had ‘pegged’ a spot right on the edge of a steep cliff. The group was chatty and looking forward to the train. Nikon people tend to acknowledge other Nikon people and sometimes chat about their cameras. Canon folk do the same. Full-framed camera owners see themselves as more elite than others – there is a pecking order. As the appearance of the train drew nearer people started to drift in and join the group. One couple began to worm their way in front of us, however, a lady gave them a look that halted them in their tracks, they then stood behind us and spent the next ten minutes complaining  [I was later informed] in French. This was just a taste of what was about to happen, about 15 minutes before the train was due to appear from behind the mountains two tour buses arrived in the car park, the doors opened and the passengers climbed the hill; they invaded the group like a swarm of persistent and noisy mosquitos.

Then a few minutes before the train a tall young male tourist from the bus got serious and when I asked him to stop pushing me he told me he just wanted a good spot and when I said that this is our spot he began to try and negotiate, “this is unfair” he huffed. The French couple who in a series of small manouvres were now just to my left but slightly behind are now at risk of loosing their spot intervened and told him in perfect English “what do you mean this is unfair – get up here earlier and behave yourself”. He must have sensed the solidarity in our group and pushed in elsewhere, but the thing is he then pulled out a smartphone. Let’s face facts from that distance and with that amount of rain he was never going to get a good picture. Smartphones are handy but not over long distances. Sure a few of the passengers had the budget DSLRs and may have captured a reasonable photograph – but most of the bus people were under 25 and had smartphones.

Then, on time, and with a loud whistle and a blast of steam smoke the train started to cross the multi-arched viaduct.  I was busy making sure I got a photograph and that I also saw the train. With the same sense of urgency and disrespect the bus people left.  Some of us were in a state of disbelief. Later I found out that when the train began to cross the bridge a gang of three young gigglers pushed to the front, a few metres to our right, had their backs to the train and took a series of  ‘selfies’ with the aid of a selfie stick. Although at the time I was only vaguely aware of the event, which was accompanied by high pitched squealing, excited behavior, and weird facial expressions. One giggler, so I was told, had a foot-stamping tantrum, accompanying a 360 pirouette, and a glare into the heavens – apparently she could not immediately upload her selfies. Getting the scoop on facebook must be like winning gold at the Bragging Olympics. The 3 gigglers had stood in front of a chap whose space we had respected when we first climbed the hill, he had a Canon 5D, 400mm grey lens, mounted on a Manfrotto tripod and a Lowepro bag – he had either accepted good advice from a camera shop or was a serious camera enthusiast. Mr Canon 5D, asked me “can you believe what just happened?” I said “it was Bizarre” and something like I had never seen anything like it before. He said it was like the bus tour directors had said ‘run up the hill and give everyone the shits’. Mr Canon 5D alerted me to new phenomenon and now that I am aware of it I see this lack of camera etiquette everyone. A few years ago the compact camera or pocket camera was popular with tourists, I have a few cameras including one that is handy and convienient, but even that breed of camera with the zoom fully extended is insufficient for an acceptable Harry Potter Train photo. Even though the price of pocket cameras has dropped dramatically and they have largely been replaced by smartphones [+bad manners]. You see/hear people taking a video of themselves, for example – ‘Oh my god – its like the train is going across the bridge in the movie – oh my god – this is epic”. It was then agreed that ‘selfie’ was short for self-centered or self -absorbed.

Even though I have been harsh on the ‘selfie’ people it has to be acknowledged that they are communicating with their peers. They are spreading the word, and possibly to a much greater degree than the Nikon and Canon group who may take technically brilliant photographs, however, photographs that will never be seen by more than a handful of people.  Sure, it is unlikely that most ‘selfies’ will go home and read Scotland: The Story of a Nation by Magnus Magnusson (2000), however, they may go home and become ambassadors for brand Scotland. They may post stuff that one day embarrasses them just as I am embarrassed about all the silly things I say, however, they are communicating and creating awareness and helping others create their bucket lists.

We each spent some time looking out towards the monument, looking down the Loch before visiting the visitors centre.

There is now a very informative visitors’ centre and no visit to any place of interest in Scotland is complete without a good look around the visitors’ centre and a bowl of soup – especially when the weather is ‘dreach’. What is, perhaps different, is that the Glenfinnan visitors’ centre also includes a wide range of Harry Potter merchandise. As I wander outside, to escape a spell from a grinning wand weaving 7 year old.  I find a West Highland Terrier tied up to a stroller, I couldn’t resist giving the dog a ‘wee’ pat, our family has a ‘Westie’ at home and I was missing her. Westies are friendly little dogs and enjoy attention. The dog – Hector, is being taken for a walk by Ronald and his nieces. Ronald explains that he now lives in London, but is visiting the family home on the side of the loch. I ask him about the impact of Harry Potter and he says that many of the scenes were shot on their family land, and a few neighbouring properties, he indicated them with a sweep of his hand. He explained that the film crew had stayed on their property, for quite some time, the film crew were capturing the scenery, and his mother had done catering for them – although he explains that the actual acting was shot in a studio with a green screen technique. Ronald explained that the movie has brought a lot of Potter tourists to the region; many of them catch the steam train from Fort William to Mallaig and return. Ronald suggests that we take the trip as the scenery along the journey is breathtaking and it is regarded as one of the world’s great steam train journeys. I explained that we had seats on tomorrow’s train. He also suggests, if we get a chance, we visit Steal Falls in Glen Nevis Glen, as that is also magnificent and a classic scene in Harry Potter.



the skyline is dominated by a man’s endeavour to provide jobs for the community

The town of Oban is a short day trip from Fort William, and rather than book two lots of accommodation we would commute.

​A wander around Oban reveals a great harbour, shops, hotels and a few galleries. Galleries often act as representatives of selected artists, so seldom take ownership of the art, the galleries agree to exhibit and promote an artist’s work for a specified period, often 6- 8 weeks. The gallery will organize the transaction, take a commission and pass on the balance to the artist, however, if the work remains unsold after the exhibit time the artist is required to collect their work. This arrangement allows the artist to focus on producing art, provides income, and provides galleries with exhibits that are continuously changing with less financial risk.

The Jetty Gallery on George Street is a beautifully presented mix of contemporary arts and crafts. We stopped to chat with the owner, Annie, she explains that her customers are her primary focus, and she selects the artwork based on varying tastes and budgets and tries to create a welcoming and interesting experience. Her customer vary according to the time of the year in spring and summer visitors are her main customers; in autumn and winter locals are her main customers, however, over the year it evens itself out.  Annie explains that this summer season has been particularly busy – she doesn’t no for certain but she feels that Scotland is perceived as less risky than some destinations and for a number of reasons more visitors select a holiday at home than a holiday abroad. Annie has a diverse mix of customers, and is known for her ability to select an eclectic range that suits different tastes, this requires careful selection across different mediums, whether paintings, sculpture, ceramics or jewellery, across different artists, and across different price points.

Some customers, visitors or locals are coming in to select a gift for family and friends; often this is to express their affection, or appreciation, or gratitude. Sometimes it is for a gift to recognise and celebrate an important event in someone’s life. She also mentions that often they are selecting a gift for themselves.  Annie explains that her customers prefer original pieces and whilst many are the works of established artists others are selected because they are emerging artists with talent. Visiting customers generally prefer authentic Scottish artists and some artists are very local, Oban, Argyll and the Islands, whilst others are from outside the region. She explains that visitors to Oban very definitely want something local, for many it is a tangible reminder of something, somewhere, or someone that was part of their holiday, there is also the sense that they are helping the local economy, and acquiring a tasteful souvenir rather than the ubiquitous and kitsch Made in China high street souvenirs. To meet the needs of her local customers, Annie likes to exhibit work from further afield. Some of her local customers, she tags these as ‘art lover’ have a favourite artist and will often pop in to see if a new work is on display.

Customers, visitors or local, search for art that reflects their lifestyle, creates a life story, creates a sense of homeliness with art that has aesthetic appeal, perhaps creates a certain sentiment, or demonstrates an artist’s talent, for many customers it is about communicating their identity –  their loves and interests, and for some it to make a statement about their wealth and buying an identity.

A little later, as we explore the harbourside, we spot a luxury ‘small’ cruise ship and we hope that some of them make their way to Annie’s gallery.

The Oban whiskey distillery is only a few metres away from The Jetty Gallery and we wander in, we find it is a bit early for a whiskey tasting but other visitors tend to think differently. The Oban Distillery is owned by the British based multinational Diageo. Diageo is one of the leading companies and Oban is just one brand in a portfolio that includes whiskies such Johnny Walker, Bell’s, Lagavulin, Vat 69 and other brands including Smirnoff, Tanqueray, Baileys, Guiness.  One of the Oban Distillery staff, Mike, a retired policeman, with a pleasant disposition provided me with a brief history of the distillery and the town; he is a great brand ambassador for both. He said that the distillery has been an important part of the town since 1794. He suggests after we have a look around the distillery we visit McCraig’s Folly, which is located on a hill directly behind the distillery and dominates the skyline of Oban. McCraig’s folly is a round arched structure with similarities to The Coliseum in Rome. I mentioned to Mike that I am keen to revisit it as I captured some great photo from there 30 years previously, however, I mention that with today’s weather it is doubtful that they will be as good. Mc Cgaig’s folly was commissioned by a local banker, John McCraig, and work commenced in 1897, his objective was to provide a lasting monument connecting his family and the town and to provide employment for stonemasons. Just then an elderly American gentleman with what appears to be dementia has taken off his shoes and wants me to take a photograph of him and his shoes. Mike just smiles, it is not something that is going to bother him, and the gentleman’s daughter is all apologetic but I oblige and we spend some time chatting and looking at his photos via the display on my camera. I ask if he wishes them sent by email but he is unfamiliar with email and his daughter is a little embarrassed and doesn’t want to trouble me – which really would be no trouble at all. I do feel for people managing people with dementia particularly when travelling – often the problem isn’t apparent to others until their behaviour is out of the ordinary. The daughter coaxed him and helped him put on his shoes and off they went, he asked me for one last photo outside the building. This must have confused some other visitors as they asked me if I was a photographer for the distillery, they were from Perth in Australia so we quickly moved on to a different topic.

We climbed up to McCraig’s Folly and had a good look around [it was quite brisk], we met the group from Perth [Australia] that were outside the distillery, they had driven up, and once again they asked me to take their photo [with their camera] and then they reciprocated by taking our photos. One of them, like me, had left Scotland as a child and had spent most of his life in Australia. I asked if he felt more Scottish when he was in Scotland and he said ‘it is funny, you ask, but I feel more Scottish and more Australian at the same time’. I could have added that this demonstrates that the process of liminality is ongoing, but, instead we talked about the inclement weather and how Scotland calls this summer and talked about the football [AFL].

Then we talked about favourite places and they suggested Steal Falls.


When we think of souvenirs it is often easy to think of the cheap key rings, and bottle openers, however, often more expensive self-gifts can be purchased as a souvenir. A souvenir may also have a social status attached to it.

  • What type of souvenirs could people purchase that may have social status and in what ways could they be employed as a prop and part of creating an ideal self?

The first picture on this page shows the entrance to the town, it is rather unattractive, yet the town is quite picturesque even on a wet and windy day.

  • How do first impression influence tourist perceptions of a town – think destination marketing.

steal falls

consuming a place

In this exemplar we consider the influence of movies on people’s choice of destination and then consider how personal values influence family holidays.

​Next morning Margaret and Trevor asks us about Oban and our meal at Lime Tree and helps us plan our day’s adventure. In the morning we are going to travel through Glen Nevis and walk to Steal Falls as recommended by a few of the friends we mad on our travels. Margaret warns that the walk to Steal falls is a bit challenging and there have been a few fatalities on the walk. Trevor gives us clear and concise directions.

Once again the movies are playing a role in generating tourism in this region, in addition to Harry Potter many of the scenes from Mel Gibson’s movie Braveheart were shot in the Glen Nevis area. In Braveheart, Gibson plays the role of Scottish legend William Wallace and the Wars of Scottish Independence, which occurred in the 13th and 14th centuries. William Wallace is still a key figure in Scottish history and there are several monuments around Scotland dedicated in his honour. The drive through Glen Nevis is one of undulating Grasslands, a meandering shallow stoney river, corpse of trees and sheep, you pass the “Braveheart Carpark” and a very popular youth hostel and cross a few stone arched bridges.

It is still reasonably early and the car park is quite empty and we begin our walk to the falls. The warning sign at the beginning of the track confirms Margaret’s concerns. The first part of the walk is undulating, heavily wooded; the path is about a metre wide; it is rocks and clay; some parts of the path where the water ouzes from the mountain side above are quite damp; there are also a few horsetail waterfalls. There are parts that are quite tricky and care is needed, however, if you just take it nice and steady the path is fine. We meet people of all ages on the track. There is a friendly conversation always a greeting, regardless of the language and generally a few words of encouragement – it is easy to fall into the spell of the track. There are a few young children all kitted out for the walk, mini backpacks and adventure gear, and we marvel at their skill.

An Austrian couple, who were travelling Scotland in a camper van told me that this is typical holiday and they always take their children with them – he explains that they are used to it, she adds that “we try to avoid fun parks” – I hasten to add that the children looked like they were having fun to me, so I believe she was referring to commercialized theme parks. We also encounter a group of late teenage males who were training session, one told me he had just done the Glencoe Challenge and was preparing for the Braveheart triathalon; they are able to negotiate the path like high speed mountain goats and made me feel a little old and creaky boned indeed. At the other end there were people who are 70 and above and generally they have all the right gear and seem to make trekking a hobby. Clearly, trekking is and important leisure activity and a generator of jobs.

The scenery changes as you cross a wooden bridge and suddenly the falls are in view. The falls are still quite a way off and the noise of the falls becomes quite a roar as you approach. There is a wire bridge that crosses the river and it appears in a few YouTube videos; crossing it is a bit of fun – although a little care is needed. The cascading waterfalls are around 100 metres from top to bottom; they are spectacular. It is easy to linger and hard to turn your back on them and begin the long trek back to the carpark. It is interesting when you choose what to do on vacation you sometimes think – will it be worth the costs in time and effort – money is not the only cost and you form expectations and select the option that you believe will give you the biggest reward.

Sometimes when you make choice decisions, consumers make the wrong decision and regret their decisions. Other times what someone expects  is dwarfed by what is received – the trek to Steal Falls was one of those occasions when the financial costs are small, the time and effort costs are greater, however, in total costs are small in comparison to what is received.

Some time later we arrive somewhat tired at a carpark that is full and chaotic; adding to the problem are a few large campervans that have just discovered that it is easier to go forward than reverse – somehow the drivers in the carpark self organize and they are accommodated.


After considering this exemplar. How do Values and life styles [VALS] influence consumer choices?

Loch Ness

In this exemplar we visit Loch Ness and consider two points in time and discuss the improvements over time. This provides an exemplar of the quest to better serve the customer. Loch Ness is also an interesting exemplar of creating a unique product value proposition.

Our time to leave Fort William had come; we head north-east on the A82 stopping at the locks of Caladonian Canal and the bridge at Loch Oich. Initially the Caladonian Canal was a short cut between the east and west coasts of Scotland, however, with the advances in ship design and ship size it was soon obsolete. In recent years it has become popular with another type of tourists – boating people.

Loch Ness has special significance for Anna and I; consequently, we were keen to visit Urquhart’s Castle where a special event had happened 30 years before.

I guess in this beautiful setting some may be anticipating a little romance, but unfortunately that is not the case. Anna had stood on the side of Loch Ness, just near Urquhart Castle, on the coldest windiest weather you could imagine [multiply it by 5 as we are in Scotland]. Then Anna lost her footing and fell into Loch Ness. She was in pain, wet and freezing, and slowly emerged from the freezing water. I ran to the car park, got dry clothes and returned as Anna uncontrollably shivered through the process of getting undressed and redressed.

What added to the spectacle was that entire event was witnessed by two fishermen in a little boat about 20 metres off the shore, they must have told the tale at their local pub for weeks, maybe months – possibly still are.

With our memories of this event revisited and the humour that comes with time we decide to revisit Urquhart Castle. The castle is located on a promontory on the side of Loch Ness; from this position it has commanding views up and down the Loch. It is a great place to pose for a picture but watch your footing.

During the latter visit, I was informed, by a castle guide, that the site has been inhabited for around 4,000 years. The Visit Scotland web site suggests that this includes 1,000 turbulent years; a drama marked by visiting saints and warlords, and a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence. I guess if you were inclined to fight over a site then this promontory would be the site to fight over.

What surprised us, were the changes since we last visited Urquhart Castle; clearly a great deal of money and effort has gone into creating a better visitor experience. This focus on the visitors’ experience is something that is happening throughout Scotland and it is extremely pleasing to see. At Urquhart Castle there is now a much larger car park, a large visitor centre – including a theatre. At the theatre, and as you would expect there an introductory film is shown, however, when the film ends the wide background curtain open to reveal an exquisite view of the castle, Loch Ness and the Mountains – a nice piece of theatre in itself.

​I wondered how many people looked out and hope to catch a glimpse of ‘Nessie’. I joked ‘just as well they didn’t have this visitors’ centre the last time or you might have had a larger audience’. There is a large, and also scenic, café, however, I cannot comment on the food as we intended to eat at the Fiddlers Inn in nearby Drumnadochit. With this in mind and after a good walk around the castle and the grounds we left for The Fiddlers Inn. This hotel was highly recommended by Mark our photographer friend on Islay, we had intended to also stay there, however, we were indecisive about whether to stay in Inverness or Drumnadochit and missed our opportunity.

The lunch at the Fiddlers was fabulous and the village is quaint and typical Scotland with white washed buildings and black slate roofs. I was a little mischievous when I was in the village and had a coffee mug printed with “I fell in Loch Ness” and a cartoon picture of ‘Nessie’.

Little did I know that I was about to the monsters of service quality in Inverness.


The visitor improvements are an example of the quest to better serve the customer, however, they are also an example of the competitive nature of tourism. Consider this statement and provide your thoughts.

 What is the UPVP associated with Loch Ness and how has this been nurtured over the years?


The Basil Fawlty School of Hospitality Management

Every once in a while you encounter a bad service experience – this exemplar touches on one such encounter. With aggregate products, such a trip to a city, a bad service encounter can be shrugged off, however, sometimes it is so bad that it impacts on a customer’s overall evaluation and can even impact on previously held attitudes. Doing things right first time and dealing with complaints are quite different.

After a big day driving along the shores of LochNess, we arrive in Inverness. It was clear that a few of the staff were drop-outs from the Basil Fawlty School of Hospitality Management [as in the TV show ‘Fawlty Towers’] with hints of ‘The Best Marigold Hotel’ – without the humour.

It was the worst service experience of the entire trip by a long way. The ladies on reception tried to renegotiate the cost of our room [we booked online] by an additional fifty pounds. This was unbelievable, as this would mean that it was seventy five pounds above the current online rate that they were offering. We knew we were being ripped-off with the original charge never mind an addition rip-off. The reception staff kept going to consult with the manager and kept coming back with ‘the manager said this … the manager said that’. I think the manager was overly focused on his asset revenue generating efficiency.

Bizarrely, when we were checking-in [and waiting for the manager’s ultimate pontification] the receptionist called security – a person had entered the hotel and used the toilet – when confronted by the security guard it turned out that the person was a guest who had left his bags for safe keeping whilst he explored the town and waited for his train.

My cumulative experience with online booking sites is that they appear to suggest that a hotel is full or near full when this may not necessarily be the case; staff at a number of hotels, later, confirmed that this was their experience as hotel staff. If I was a cynical person I would speculate that some online booking sites are herding customers towards hotels with the highest margins [for their organization] rather than in the best interests of the consumer. Whilst Inverness appeared to be a town without vacancies in the online world, we saw a number of appealing places with ‘vacancies signs’ in the actual world. I quickly regretted booking and not taking a chance – we would have in the ‘olden days’.

When, I reflected on our Inverness hotel experience, I attributed blame partly as a consequence of our earlier indecision and that I booked the rooms in a hurry and did not look beyond the overall rating. Nevertheless, I also learned a lesson from this hotel – the historical data of the online reviews and the recent reviews are not always congruent. I analysed 100 reviews from each of the two leading online bookings sites and found that recent history would suggest that this was a hotel that has lost its way. In fact, recent comments suggest that the management had no concept of what it means to be part of the hospitality industry. Also, when I sorted by lowest scores to highest scores, it revealed that our experience was not unique.

Sure, there could be reasons for the deviation between historical data and recent data – it could be that in the height of the tourism season they are a little overwhelmed, however, in a cyclic business, such as tourism, this is not an excuse – this is poor management. A number of online comments identified a failure to meet what can only be described a core product failure; for example, moldy bathrooms, smelly rooms, noise from the next door rooms, and lack of civility. Other online comments identified expected product failures; for example advertising onsite parking when in reality there was only a few bays, advertising free wifi and then having very limited guest access. Interestingly, when I asked where the free hotel parking was the staff said that ‘in reality there was no parking because the managers occupied them’, however, there was in a public car park down the street. One, disillusioned, staff member stated that the only way to get free parking was ‘to wait till the manager leaves and grab his spot’. He went on to state that ‘the hotel computer system and the management were so antiquated that they ran on gas’. When checking out of the hotel an employee asked me if I had enjoyed my stay, this was like a routine question.  I said ‘my room was nothing like what was displayed online’ she stated ‘well the only way to get a good room here – is to complain’. It is clear from staff comments that the staff are demonstrating signs of frustration, from other comments I could cautiously speculate that they may be bullied by an unprofessional and floundering manager. Moreover, I speculate that as soon as a better job, in a better hotel becomes available – the best staff will leave.

Inverness was not all bad. We had a lovely coffee and cake at a nearby coffee shop. We were walking past a coffee shop when it started to bucket down; we asked if there was a spare table and the waitperson said ‘come on in out of the weather – I will find you a table … oh and by the way I would recommend the cheesecake it is delicious’. Over the next twenty minutes, when not serving other customers, our chatty waitperson revealed she was soon to have her 18th birthday, was hoping to have a little party, if her parents agreed, had recently finished high school and she was hoping to get into university to study physiotherapy. We found this waitperson, refreshing, and  an absolute tonic and she was right – the cheesecake was superb. With our faith in the quality of Scottish service restored we tried to forget the hotel with its ‘foosty pidgeon shit smell, sloping floors, and cranky staff’.


As we discovered during the circle of satisfaction module – staff are so important; staff are either a dominant or a determinant product component. Staff can be part of the competitive advantage or disadvantage. Consider this exemplar [both good and bad encounters] relative to the service profit chain.

Consider a hotel where the staff are so scared of their manager that they need to repeatedly consult with the manager during something as simple as the check-in process.

Regularly over a 24 months period I visited the online reviews and started to notice an improvement – Consider the influence of online reviews on a hotel manager’s career, however, I also noticed that many of the comments referred to a ‘great deal’ and ask you to consider the influence of discounting on customer expectations and evaluations. Also, consider the financial impact of discounting in an effort to attract guests.

Consider the complexity of attracting guests and gaining word of mouth recommendations after a period of management neglect.

The Highland Chocolatier

In this exemplar, we explore how a reputation has been nurtured over many years with a commitment to quality through attention to detail. What we also notice is that this attention to detail is common in this little village.

After  less than pleasant hotel stay in Inverness [the town is fine] our next stop is Bendarroch House at Strathtay. We are hoping that the next stay is more pleasant. We need not have worried.

We arrive at a beautiful guest house located in a large garden on the side of the Tay River – once again we have hit the jackpot. Our room is large and furnished with antique furniture and we have a bay window with a lovely view of the garden and beyond. There is carparking and wifi that works – it is far more than is promised and exceeds our expectations.

After we have settled in to our room, we wander a few hundred metres down the road, then cross a steel [Bailey] bridge into the village of Grandtully. There we discover the shop of the Highland Chocolatier, Iain Burnett. Once again this is happenstance – we had heard about this shop but little did we know that we would stumble upon the shop. From 50 metres we are drawn to the shop like a magnet and once inside the décor indicates retail passion and an eye for detail. To a marketing scholar, interested in the art of retail, this is what perfection looks like.

The display cabinets are spotless and the chocolates are like works of art and are arranged in millimeter perfect formations. The smell of chocolate creates that mouth-watering sensation that beckons and tempts. The shop assistant is immaculately presented. She tells us that she is ‘privileged’ to work in this shop, that the owner, Iain Burnett, initially trained under the finest European chocolatiers, refined his skills over many yes and consequently has won numerous awards, is recognised amongst the finest chocolatiers in the world, once only supplied Michelin Star Restaurants, the finest Hotels, and British Airways First Class, and now they are available to everyone – she then said that The Queen is particularly fond of this chocolate – I am told that purple is her favourite colour.

In themarketingconcept: philosophy, theory, & application [e-book] we discuss the importance of people and therefore the importance of internal marketing. The role of the boundary spanner is also discussed, the staff member who can span the boundary between the organisation and the customer. It is such a pleasure to meet people who love their work.

Your right we did buy a selection of chocolates – not to consume in the car as we drive from place to place like a bar of Cadbury chocolate but to take home to Australia and share with our daughter.

Chocolate may not be a product that springs to mind when people think of Scotland, however, Gary Fraser from The Scots Magazine states that there are now more than 70 Artisan chocolatiers in Scotland and that it is likely that there will soon be chocolate tours of Scotland.

There are many people competing in the chocolate market – so how does one chocolatier stand out from the rest. Once again we can see that total quality is the sum of the qualities of the ingredients – and Burnett’s selection of the finest ingredients is obsessive. We can see that quality, value, and satisfaction are related.  That total product quality is not just with the goods, but the other product components –services, ideas, experiences, people, and place – all components are given the utmost attention and create a total product that has a unique value proposition.

Why is this award winning chocolatier located in a little village by the side of the Tay River, perhaps for the same reason that J.K. Rowlings has a house a few kilometres away. Strathtay is a beautiful place to live with many magnificent homes.

Just across the road from The Highland Chocolatier is The Inn On The Tay, this pub was recommended by our host and we soon get chatting with the locals. They scold us for only passing through their lovely village and urge us to stay longer.

The amiable publican encourages us to stay for a meal and we are rewarded with a meal of local produce and local beer.

The frustrations of our Inverness encounter are now well and truly behind us and as we climb the hill to Bendarroch House – we are reinvigorated.  It is 10:30 pm and the sun is setting and before entering the guest house we look down on the River Tay and the village of Grandtully and Anna states that we must come back here the next time we are in Scotland – which is interesting when you think about it – she has begun planning the next trip even before we have finished the present trip. All is quiet and we enjoy a good night’s sleep in a big comfortable bed.

The next morning we are up early and we explore the village of Strathtay, a collection of brick homes set in big gardens, a little local store and a church with a sign that reads ‘if you wish to pray collect the key from the shop’. With our exploring complete we sit down to a full Scottish breakfast. I should just mention that on one side of the river is the village of Grandtully, the chocolatier and our new favourite pub, and on the other side of the river is the village of Strathtay where our guest house, the church and the general store are located.

On the road to the Crannogs

In this exemplar we take in a few shops, some magnificent bridges, pass by some magnificent country homes on the road to the Crannogs. The Crannogs are part of our evolution of marketing and society a time before roads and a time when people began to form communities for safety & security.

We are heading to Kenmore, to visit the Crannogs, via Aberfeldy where we have heard, coincidently, there is the best independent bookshop in the UK. The bookshop, a gift shop, and a café are housed in a former mill. The building is constructed of stone and slate and has a watermill located on one side.

Within the 3 storey bookshop [story/storey] are reminders of the mill’s past with bookshelves and old machinery creating a unique environment.  Jayne and Kevin run The Watermill Bookshop and their mission is to create a place and an experience that inspires people to search the shelves for their next read. This is certainly a great example of the theatre of business a metaphor discussed in themarketingconcept [e-book].

After a cup of fine leaf tea and a slice of cake we scoot through the Scottish rain and back to the Ford Focus and continue our journey.

I first became familiar with Crannogs through a documentary and recognised the important role they played in the evolution of marketing in Scotland in particular the forming of settlements. Therefore, it was important that we visited The Scottish Crannog Centre on the side of Loch Tay in Perthshire.

Crannogs, are iron age buildings just off the shore. They are circular structures built on stilts, they have a floor of wood and were insulated with wool or available materials, the roofs are thatched and steeply peaked to keep out the rain, they are connected to the land by a jetty, however, the jetty would contain a gangway that could be lifted at night to keep out strangers.

Within the Crannog the community and their animals would live. A fire would be kept burning for cooking and the smoke would help cure meats that would hang from the roof rafters. A Crannog would remain intact for a bout 200 years. In the history of marketing they represent temporary settlements used to protect the people, the stored produce, the animals, cloths and tools.

Within the Crannog the community and their animals would live. A fire would be kept burning for cooking and the smoke would help cure meats that would hang from the roof rafters. A Crannog would remain intact for a bout 200 years. In the history of marketing they represent temporary settlements used to protect the people, the stored produce, the animals, cloths and tools. They were employed until the community was large enough to build secure and more permanent villages on land.  According to our guide, Daniel, marine archaeologists have found evidence of trade outside of their communities and stones from other parts of the UK and Europe have been uncovered during their research.  Scotland has many lochs and the waterways would have enabled trade, this is important consideration because the deeply forested mountainsides would have made human movement and trade extremely difficult. The Scottish Crannog Centre is an interesting exhibition and well worth a visit for people of all ages.


In this exemplar we explore branding. 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 road 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: philosophy, theory, and application [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.

The Kelpies & the Falkirk Wheel

big ideas about Scotland’s past and future

The Kelpies & the Falkirk Wheel

big ideas about Scotland’s past and future

​Over lunch, at a café next door to the Scottish Crannog Centre, we decided to shorten the trip by one day to allow some shopping time in Glasgow. This meant a longish drive; plus we had to un-book our accommodation and find new accommodation.

We then booked The Premier Inn in Falkirk – direct no affiliate site. I like the Premier Inn business model and the unique product value proposition [UPVP]. To me, the Premier Inn is good value for money. I believe they achieve this by focusing on the core product and the things that matter. What we refer to as low price with minimal augmentation – clean, modern rooms, a comfy bed, free WiFi, a quiet location, and staff that say hello.

To me the Premier Inn business model is appealing when the destination is more important than the hotel [to me, the opposite would be a resort]. The Premier Inn is part of the Whitbread Group of companies [according to their 2015/16 Annual Report they have over 700 hotels in the UK] and often, they have restaurant located on the site, which, in my experience are also extremely good value for money.

However, I have other reasons for liking The Premier Inn; and these are less easy to explain. For example, I am also conscious that tourism related jobs provide employment to young people, and this is particularly important in small towns.

However, I also believe there are jobs and there are jobs.

Some hospitality organisations provide short-term employment for young people; however, often long-term career opportunities within these organisations are non-existent. Some organisations are preoccupied with reducing operating costs that they have a revolving door of young people [often students] coming and going – why? because they are cheaper to employ and accept short shifts. On the other hand, the hospitality industry can be a great industry with some organisations providing excellent training and excellent career opportunities. I have the general impression that The Premier Inn, as a large and growing publicly listed organisation, is driven by customer satisfaction. It appears that they are focused on reducing costs through efficiency and this require a high standard of training. Therefore, a young person will be more employable from having worked at The Premier Inn – therefore by supporting The Premier Inn I am supporting an organisation that supports young people.

I guess, in the course of my job I meet more employers than most people and I often have to listen to their ‘whining about how young people are not motivated’ yet I find that many employers will employ a young person [student] because they are cheap and willing to work odd hours and then discard them when their hourly rate increases. I believe, like many other marketing practitioners, that if you treat your employees as expendable they will treat your customers as expendable.

It was a long drive, and eventually I finished my ‘rant’ on the benefits of quality staff training [marketers call this ‘internal marketing’]. We had a quick detour through Dunblane, the birth Place of Scottish born and Wimbledon tennis champion Andy Murray.


There were two real reasons why Falkirk was our next destination; the first was The Kelpies – a magnificent sculpture by Andy Scott, and the second was the Falkirk Wheel. It is worth mentioning that the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel have a historical connection; they are both monuments to the social history of the area and to the industrial revolution that transformed Scotland and later the world. The Kelpies honour the horses that provided the muscle to pull the barges along the canals of Scotland and the Falkirk Wheel was a millennium project to reconnect the canals that connected Glasgow in the west and Edinburgh in the east.

Both The Kelpies and the  Falkirk Wheel are magnificent structures. The Kelpies seldom appear the same, due to the changing sky during the day and the lighting at night, so I was keen to visit The Kelpies in both daytime and nighttime. The Falkirk Wheel is a kinetic and functional sculpture; which gracefully transports barge boats between two canals that are on different levels.

The Scottish canals once provided a competitive advantage for many businesses. One nearby business is particularly historic – The Carron Iron Works was located in Falkirk at the start of the industrial revolution, there was a good supply of iron-ore, coal, and water for power and transportation. The Carron Iron Works was initially famous for ship cannons, and cannonballs; then expanded into boilers for steamships, post boxes, man-hole covers, kitchen stoves, and pots and pans. The company was an early example of vertical integration, however, unfortunately after two centuries the company closed its doors in 1982.

Although The Kelpies and The Falkirk Wheel represent Scotland’s social history they are also symbols of Scotland’s future as they highlight Scottish design and innovation and they communicate a powerful message about Scotland to its people and to overseas visitors.

Scottish history is often communicated as a struggle and a rebellion against a more powerful and domineering neighbour, however, it is also a history of a people with ideas that have changed the world. Scotland has a central position in the evolution of marketing.

From a marketing academic’s perspective, I believe that it is rather difficult for many people to consider ‘ideas’ as a dominant product component – as the basis for a product. The marketing of goods and services is well understood [or misunderstood] by most consumers, however, when the dominant product component is an idea then it becomes a more difficult for people to recognise that ideas can be exchanged. It is also important to recognise that the value of ideas needs to be well communicated to be understood and adopted by the consumer.

Although The Kelpies and The Falkirk Wheel represent Scotland’s social history they are also symbols of Scotland’s future as they highlight Scottish design and innovation and they communicate a powerful message about Scotland to its people and to overseas visitors.

Scottish history is often communicated as a struggle and a rebellion against a more powerful and domineering neighbour, however, it is also a history of a people with ideas that have changed the world. Scotland has a central position in the evolution of marketing.

From a marketing academic’s perspective, I believe that it is rather difficult for many people to consider ‘ideas’ as a dominant product component – as the basis for a product. The marketing of goods and services is well understood [or misunderstood] by most consumers, however, when the dominant product component is an idea then it becomes a more difficult for people to recognise that ideas can be exchanged. It is also important to recognise that the value of ideas needs to be well communicated to be understood and adopted by the consumer.

​Some, marketing academics, who should know better get confused and even suggest that if something is not a tangible good then it must be an intangible service – but this thinking misses the point completely.

Clearly, ideas are not goods – but –  neither are they services. Sure – goods and service have ideas embedded.

Services have quite different characteristics to ideas. Services are ephemeral; that means that a service cannot be stored for later delivery and once a service has been performed it cannot be reconstituted and resold. However, ideas can be sold then resold. For example: The ideas that someone gains through reading, or education, can be sold and resold. People attend university to enable them to get a job and/or to get a better job and may sell their ideas time and time again.

In the classic book; Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill; Hill (1938, p.18) states that:

“All achievement, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea!”.

We arrived at the Premier Inn, Falkirk late in the evening. The lady on reception was a born for this job, she asks what brings us to Falkirk and we tell her The kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel. She suggests that the best time for photographs would be after dark. Keep in mind that in Scotland, in summer, the sun sets late. She then mentioned a ‘meal deal’ at the restaurant next door [diner and then breakfast] and being hungry after our longish drive we sat down to enjoy a meal and in the process struck up a few conversations with fellow travelers, who like us were there to see The Kelpies; then around 10:30pm we were back in the Ford Focus and once again glad of the navigation system in the car.

Since I first became aware of The Kelpies I had wanted to photograph them –  I even brought a tripod from Australia specifically for this occasion. You may think we would be alone on that wet and windy ‘Scottish summer night’, but, there were many visitors; who like Anna and I, were keen to capture some of the Kelpies’ magic [I agonised over the word capture because it conveys the wrong meaning for these magnificent sculptures]. The glow from the many smartphone screens indicated that people were uploading their photographs and sending them to their Facebook friends. If we think about this deeper we can see that they are communicating the ideas, the experience, and the place that are part of The Kelpies.

Since they were completed in 2013, The Kelpies have become a much loved attraction. Andy Scott, the sculptor, mentioned that by June 2017 two and half million people from Scotland, the UK and overseas have visited the sculptures ‘despite the Scottish weather’. I believe they have come to gaze at the beauty of the horses, connect with the past, and draw inspiration for the future from Andy Scott’s ideas.

We can see that just like other products; products that are dominant in ideas also include other product components. Marketing practitioners need to be aware of ideas as the dominant product component are more common than perhaps we would first consider –  we could think of education, the music industry, advertising industry, health messages, and [at the risk of offending some] even religion is the marketing of ideas. The Beatles may have used the same notes and words as other artists but it was how they were arranged and the ideas that were communicated that separated the Beatles from being just another brand.

When I see the Kelpies I think about strategy. I can see that Andy Scott could see exactly what he was trying to achieve before he commenced construction. I can see that once he had a strategy he then did everything possible to achieve and be true to the strategy.

The next morning after a good night sleep, we had our ‘Premier Inn breakfast’ and booked out. We then headed back to The Kelpies this time to photograph them in daylight, even though it was quite early there was already quite a gathering. We chatted to a couple that live a few kilometres from us in Western Australia. We spotted them as he was wearing an East Fremantle Football Club scarf. We chatted for a short while and we took their photograph and they took ours. The couples’ Scottish friend, who was showing them around, suggested that my wife could get a great photograph, as if she was kissing one of the horses, if she stood in a particular spot and the camera was held low to the ground, within a few minutes others were doing the same thing – people learn through observation and quickly adopt good ideas.

Then it was off to the Falkirk wheel to witness the transportation of barges from one level to another. What is interesting is that the Falkirk wheel employs the principle of Archimedes this ensures that the weight in both gondolas is equal, regardless of the weight of the barge; the weight displaces an equivalent weight of water. This engineering principle results in an enormous weight being transported vertically 25 metres [a guide at the centre told me that the weight was equivalent to 100 elephants] with only a small amount of energy being consumed. That he said was “all achieved by Scottish ingenuity and engineering”.


I would like to suggest that if you wish to know more about some of the concepts raised in this article you should visit themarketingconcept [e-book] and read the evolution of marketing, then read ideas as a product component, then Blue Ocean Thinking and Design Thinking.

Product components

Interestingly not everyone views the product components the same. In this survey participants were asked … ‘What do you think is the dominant product component of The Kelpies? Select from [goods, services, ideas, people, and place]”.

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