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Markets, positioning and branding

Find out more about the markets, positioning and branding of the English Riviera.

The English Riviera BID Company delivers the destination marketing for the English Riviera which includes the website, a suite of print and management of social media channels. The ERBIDCo has invested heavily in digital marketing and the new business plan (ERBID2) sets out the direction of travel and marketing investment over the next five years (2022-27).

The marketing takes a broad and inclusive approach, encompassing a wide range of locations, attractions, activities, and themes. Whilst this is understandable given the nature of the destination, the sense of ‘something for everyone’ is in danger of diluting the overall proposition. Across channels and campaigns, a variety of straplines are used, and although these may be complementary, there is a risk of potentially confusing the visitor and weakening the brand.

The term ‘English Riviera’ is however rarely used by the visitors or by travel media; greater recognition often lies with the three towns, and Torquay in particular. Visitors tend to speak of the area fondly, again reflecting high levels of repeat visits, (but non-visitors much less so). Awareness levels are low among non-visitors who do not tend to see it as a place to aspire to visit. It rates particularly low in terms of heritage, culture, and food. The travel media generally presents the destination in positive terms and has attracted many positive articles and media coverage in recent times.

Positively, from a business perspective, there is widespread buy-in and use of ‘English Riviera’ in promotional activity, creating a sense of pride in place. The complexity of the brand architecture is evidenced however in the business survey undertaken as part of this DMP review. This revealed that around three-quarters of businesses strongly identify with ‘English Rivera’ as the destination brand. In addition, businesses also identified with their town – around half identifying with Torquay, and around a third also identify with South Devon/South Devon Coast.

Moving forward

There is a challenge in communicating a multi-faceted destination brand which encompasses several places and propositions. The changing attitudes, perceptions and desires of a market faced with numerous choices create further challenges. The English Riviera has a long history and must ensure it continues to be relevant to new visitor markets, presenting them with a clear, memorable, and compelling propositions.

Beyond the branding of the destination, work has been done locally in developing the Torbay Story (launched in January 2022) which is intended to cut across all three towns and support all sectors, encourage inward investment, and nurture civic pride. While the destination brand is focused on visitors, it does make sense for it to align with the wider Torbay Story vision, as already mentioned in DMP growth themes, so that all place-related marketing is synergistic and reinforcing.

All of these factors therefore suggest it is timely to review the English Riviera brand to ensure the positioning of the destination will support the vision for tourism and developing the visitor economy. This review must be market-focused and informed by the opinions and perceptions of current visitors and non-visitors (from the target segments identified within this plan).

The outcome of this research should be shared with businesses, partners, and key stakeholders to consider what, if any, changes in approach are needed. This could include how the destination brand should be communicated in the marketplace, within a clear architecture of places and propositions which define the destination, position it clearly and convey what and where it is – and who it is for.

Branding and Marketing – Delivery Tasks

Task 1: Market Research

Primary research among leisure visitor and non-visitors to explore current brand perceptions and associations, names, places, and straplines.

  • Outcome: Increased market knowledge and insight to inform more effective marketing
  • Measured by: Research outputs and action taken
  • Delivered by: ERBIDCo (lead), TDA (support)
  • Resources: £20,000 (per annum), new
  • Timetable: 2022-23

Task 2: Brand Strategy Review

Informed by the findings of the market research, engage stakeholders in reviewing and updating branding strategy and marketing assets. Consider producing brand toolkits for businesses to adopt. Reconfigure marketing collateral and channels accordingly.

  • Outcome: Improved destination awareness and appeal among target segments
  • Measured by: Visitor Surveys, Media tracking,
  • Delivered by: ERBIDCo
  • Resources: £10,000 (one off), new
  • Timetable: 2022-24

Task 3: Marketing Strategy Review

Review the marketing strategy and update accordingly to the themes and target segments in the DMP. Review and refine messaging/activity where appropriate.

  • Outcome: Increased market exposure
  • Measured by: Increase visits from target segments, Visitor Surveys, Content generated, Sentiment tracking
  • Delivered by: ERBIDCo
  • Resources: Existing resources
  • Timetable: 2022-27