The value of a product is generally associated with its price: higher the price, higher the value. This perception can be applied also to the Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPs) sector: for instance, truffles are more attractive for companies than other edible but mediocre mushrooms, due to the higher willingness to pay of consumers. Nevertheless, a NWFP can have a value that goes beyond its price: its attractiveness.
The appeal of a territory is usually linked to its characteristics and peculiarities, that needs to be communicated toward effective territorial marketing strategies. In this respect, NWFPs can play an important role and their integration in the marketing strategy can have a positive impact, contributing to enlarge the tourist portfolio of a destination.
The INCREDIBLE project Cross cutting seminar, held in Val Taro, Emilia Romagna region in Italy, aimed to give an overview of the importance of territorial marketing and present some best practices. Days after this meeting, we still have some issues to reflect on and review.
NWFPs are very different, ranging from the non-edible ones such as cork, resin, and herbs to the edible one such as mushrooms, truffles, nuts and berries: every product has its peculiarities, but there are similarities in the way they can be used as a marketing element.
Tourists are the final “users” of the supply chain and in order to attract them an organized and appealing destination is essential. Understanding the peculiarities, the strengths and the weaknesses of a territory is the first step to decide what communicate to the tourists. Participative approaches between local authorities, inhabitants and all the local stakeholders are fundamental to understand and then communicate what a territory can offer. The organization and the coherence of the tourism destination are much more important than the specific product. The identification and the valorization of a local gastronomic excellences or a traditional product can be an added value for a destination, but it is secondary in respect to the coordination and the organization of all the destination.
The use of trademarks and labels can play a central role in the communication of the quality of a specific product. In the case of certified gastronomic products, such as ‘Fungo di Borgotaro IGP’ (Borgotaro PGI mushrooms) or Melinda DOP (POD apples), presented as best case studies, the tourist can recognize the European label and expects, as a consequence, that also the rest of the tourism destination has a high standard. Therefore, trademarks and certifications can play a central role in the promotion and have a high impact also in the production of the NWFP. The interactions, the connections and the synergies between the production-oriented businesses and the service-oriented ones should be several and strategic to gain reciprocal benefits. For instance, in some of the best practices presented, local restaurants and accommodation structures use local certified products. Furthermore, interesting and appealing experiences, based on certified products, such as tours, harvesting activities, can be organized.
To conclude, both edible and non-edible NWFPs can fascinate the curiosity of tourists. For this reason, they can be integrated into territorial marketing strategies and become economically important not just for their intrinsic value but also for their attractiveness. Find the proper balance between production and service businesses, coordinated by an effective territorial marketing strategy that takes actively into account all the stakeholders, is the key to success.