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What can we learn about experiential marketing from Scottish farm shops?

After a client meeting, I found myself drawn up the farm track (almost magnetically) towards the impressive Balgove Larder just outside of St. Andrews.

Located so close to one of the most iconic Scottish spots, you could say Balgove offers tourists an even more authentic Scottish experience than the obvious – like a stroll over Swilican Bridge on the Old Course.

In a growing trend, brands are attempting to be more genuine and authentic whilst delivering unique and memorable experiences for shoppers in order to increase sales.

David Moth, Social Media Manager of Econsultancy, tells us: “The premise of experiential marketing is to create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience.”

Scottish farm shops have flourished in the past decade with more and more  visitors increasing spending on everyday items. Whilst some would argue that supporting local businesses and an increased focus on provenance have driven the shift in consumer interest, I believe there’s more to it than that. I would argue that honesty, transparency and trust have driven this change…remember that nasty horsemeat scandal?

While the cafes and restaurants in these farms serve top quality nosh in increasingly impressive surroundings, it is their direct influence on the retail part of the business that interests me. As I type (and haphazardly attempt to eat my Balgove black pudding roll) almost every customer in the cafe leaves with something from the shop…job done!

For me the coffee shops and cafes serve as a “frame-of-mind adjustor” or, more crudely, they get us drunk on the idea of provenance, quality, taste and sustainability to the point that we impulse buy a week’s shop at about three times the cost of our normal supermarket trip.

In that sense I cannot think of a more effective influential marketing tool than the farm shop cafe. To all the big city marketers looking for a case study in how experiential marketing should be done: take a trip to you local farm shop.

They’re utterly authentic, uncompromisingly proud and delightfully un-salesy.

Fraser, Head of Publicity