This is an excerpt from Sustainable Tourism With Web Resource by Carol Patterson.
Product - Market Match
Looking at all the possible products you can offer gives you a better chance of matching these products with the markets identified in the market analysis. One of the most important steps in the marketing plan is the product - market match, a marketing process that matches the possible products you can sell to the market segments most likely to purchase them. For an example of a successful product - market match, watch the video "Marketing to Photographers" at the end of this chapter.
In your strategic plan you identified the products you are capable of offering to the traveling public. You also identified the market segments you would like to target. Now you bring this information into your marketing plan to find the best matches between your capabilities and your prospective customers. If your research indicates that most tourists coming to your area are couples looking for a relaxing weekend retreat, you would not want to offer a weeklong tour filled with scheduled activities. Instead you would focus your efforts on weekend packages that might include fine dining, bird-watching, and sampling homemade jams from local farmers at afternoon tea. Or you might have an abundance of bird life but no accommodations for large groups. This could mean you develop a product for one-day bird-watching trips or multiday trips with stays at small inns or bed and breakfasts. An example of a product - market match is shown in figure 5.2.
Figure 5.2 Product - market match.
Based on information from Canadian Tourism Commission 2012
One product might appeal to more than one market segment, as you can see in figure 5.2. If you are short of money, you might decide to focus your marketing on the products that reach the most market segments. The two-day birding package in figure 5.2 would appeal to couples who want to relax, nature photographers, and casual bird-watchers. You could promote this product to three market segments in your early years and expand your marketing to the other product - market matches as your bank account increases.
By organizing your market segments and the products you are able to deliver into product - market matches, you can see what you can sell and to whom and the best marketing strategy for reaching your target market. Your marketing strategies and activities will likely be different for each market segment, although there is often overlap. Your market segments may also be other businesses, for example, companies offering tourism experiences to their employees for team building or as a reward. Market segments consisting of businesses require different marketing strategies; for example, you would only approach the organizer, instead of every person taking the tour. This can make marketing more cost effective, and for this reason, many tourism businesses find corporations, social clubs, and associations to be attractive market segments.
Sometimes people get confused while determining their product - market matches and label everyone as a potential customer. As described in the strategic planning process, you group customers into market segments so you can focus your business activities. This does not mean you will not be thrilled to see a customer from the other side of the globe if you are focused on school groups within a two-hour drive, but that person is the gravy, as opposed to the targeted market segments that form the meat and potatoes of your business. If you find you are getting a lot of clients from outside your targeted market segments, you might have overlooked a segment in your market analysis or are filling a travel need you were not aware of. In either case, revisit your product - market match to see whether you can include this new market in your plans.
To bring the concept of product - market match to life, take the Ecochallenge "What Kind of Traveler Are You?" The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) uses the explorers quotient (EQ) quiz to identify market segments. You, too, can take the quiz to determine how you would be classified. Think about what types of tourism experiences or products you prefer. The CTC uses the EQ quiz to match travelers' needs to the products Canadian tourism businesses offer. Once travelers have taken the quiz, they can follow links on the CTC website to products that might suit them. Although this is a highly sophisticated version of a product - market match, you should apply the same concept as you develop your marketing plan.
Learn more about Sustainable Tourism.