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California Travel & Tourism Commission Exploratory Strategy Research August – September 2007 arranged by Market Condition GmbH Research Goals Verification of the current images of the brand California as well as the positioning Motivation for visiting California
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August – September 2007
Market Condition GmbH
Conduction of 4 focus groups in Hamburg and Frankfurt.
Participants: Pre-recruited visitors of California and people who plan/consider a visit
Conduction of 400 interviews in Hamburg and Frankfurt.
Pre-recruited visitors of California and people who plan/consider a visit
September 2007Research Structure
For the quantitative part suitable participants are pre-recruited.
Two 2-hours focus groups are held in Frankfurt and Hamburg. In each city one group consists of people who have already visited California, and one group of people who plan/consider to visit California.
The participants are women and men between 23 and 67 years old.
The group consists of the following:
Within the frame of the qualitative part several projective procedures are used prior to and during the focus groups, in order to allow an access to the participants’ emotions and associations in regard of “California”.
Current Environment the Participants live in
Most of the statements are in regard of the
location of the domicile.
The most mentioned aspects are:
- quiet location
- green field location
- park nearby
- surrounded by woods and meadows
Also important aspects are the travel
The most mentioned aspects are:
- good travel connections
- good autobahn connection
- quickly at the airport
- close to a large city
The following points do also have a positive
influence on the domicile
- central location
- good infrastructure
- parking lots in front of the house
- nice neighbors
- good possibility to go out at nights
- a historic environment, it stands for a high quality of life
The statements regarding the disadvantages of
the current domicile vary between Frankfurt
The ideal international vacation
The ideal international vacation consists of
Competitors of California
As spontaneous competitors of California are
Brazil, Fiji, Florida, Canada, Mexico,
New Zealand, Spain, South Africa, Thailand,
Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Ireland, Japan,
Nigeria, Polynesia, South France, Texas,
West Africa, Dominican Republic, Boston,
British Columbia, North-east of the USA,
Portugal and the Rocky Mountains
The focus groups see the following as the
“strongest” competitors of California:
Brazil, Thailand, South Africa,
Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
The groups mentions the strengths and
weaknesses of those competitors.
Very good service
Very good price-performance-ratio
The swimming is in the foreground
Culture, diverse belief
Very good cuisine
Large insects and spiders
You get to know more tourists than indigenous people
High crime rateCompetitor Thailand
Beautiful beaches, high mountains
Very beautiful weather, climate
No time lag
Exotic, fantastic animals
Safari, wild animals, Krueger National Park
Good wine, red wines
Diving with the sharks
Only seasonal vacations possible, winter or summer
Very high crime rate
Impacts of the apartheid
You can’t stay everywhere you want, bad hygienic conditions
Malaria, vaccination required
As a white man you have to protect yourself
Disastrous social situationCompetitor South Africa
Totally different culture
Many German Immigrants live there
You can discover the island with a rucksack
Unique animal world
Small continent, in which you can find everything
Large time lag
Very long flight
Very expensive flight
Far too hot
Suppression of aboriginal inhabitants
Large areas only with steppe
Poisonous snakes, spidersCompetitor Australia
Very tolerant people
Unimportant how rich you are, brands are unimportant, too
Very short ways from mountain to coast
Flights are expensive
At the end of the world
English cuisine dominates
Jailbirds, not an enlightened peopleCompetitor New Zealand
Lots of nature and wildlife
Great lakes, rivers
Fishing instead of heat at the beach
Many sports activities
Friendly people, European
Beautiful rugged coast, beautiful to drive along with the car
Eating culture is not good
Pubs/restaurants are far too expensiveCompetitor Canada
According to the participants the various
destinations are suitable for diverse target
groups. New Zealand or Australia are rather
suitable for loving couples or families. Brazil
is also suitable for families. However, due to safety reasons South Africa should in any case be visited without children, but either with a second person or with friends.
California is assessed as a destination for “everybody”. You can go there for vacation as a single, couple, family, with a group or clique. It merely seems to be unsuitable as a destination together with small children.
Nevertheless, it is also an unsuitable destination “for the low-budget vacation”.
The visitors do not only associate sights with California, but also emotions.
However, the intender associate it with experience and diversity.
San Francisco is the most beautiful city in the USA
Is located at the ocean
From nature to shopping
Take pictures of houses
Intender - rational
California has a leading role in regard of ecology
Golden Gate Bridge
Many trips, see a lot
Celebrity bonusConnections to California
California – projective procedures
Prior to the focus groups
Describing California as a person, with all its features and characteristics, has shown some regional differences.
The participants in Frankfurt see California as a man in his 30s, with a family.
This man is open-minded and tolerant, innovative, intelligent and reliable.
The respondents in Hamburg see California as a woman, around 30. She is unmarried, yet, but plans to have a family one day.
She is wealthy and adventurous, always up-to-date and self-confident.
Features that are mentioned in both cities are:
The negative features of this person are, for both cities:
A postcard from California -
Projective task prior to the focus group
The most mentioned aspects in the postcards through all four groups are:
With partner/family 23
Multi-City tour 26
People are open-minded and friendly 12
To get to know people, country, nature 16
California - projective procedures
Collage in the group
California - Strengths and Weaknesses
Participants who have already visited California, see the strengths especially in the nature, the inhabitants and the diversity that California offers.
Participants who plan a vacation associate also the diversity, but in addition also a couple of practical strengths, as well as the feeling of freedom, especially in regard of mobility.
The visitors see the following weaknesses:
The intender see the following weaknesses:
The participants cannot agree on a suitable duration for vacations.
The shortest recommendation is 1-2 weeks, the longest one is 1 month. The majority decides for 2-3 weeks.
California can also be visited 12 months a year. The weather “is always that you can tolerate it”, “less rain, more consistent”.
It is “also called the sunny state”.
The average duration of the past vacation in California is three weeks.
The motives in the self-drawn pictures of the visitor groups can be grouped into the following categories:
Intenders of visiting California
The main reason why the trip has not been done, yet, is primarily financial and that the children were too small to make such a vacation.
Other reasons are insufficient holidays, a lot to discover in Europe, one decided for other parts of the USA, because of acquaintances or difficulties in deciding for one destination, since one wants to go there together with friends.
The motives in the self-drawn pictures of the intender groups can be grouped into the following categories:
Booking of overseas travels
Various strategies are mentioned in regard of the booking of overseas travels:
- Special travel agent
- over the internet
- word of mouth friends/acquaintances
- travel agencies
- directly at the airport
- search the internet, booking in the travel agency
Search for information is possible
Preparations make as much fun as the actual vacation
Spontaneous booking possible
No opening hours like a travel agency
It is cheaper
You are familiar with it
It is easy
You have to enter personal data
They are liable if something is not right
I have a person to talk to
Are often incompetent
You receive tips in a good travel agency
For specific questionsCharacteristics of the booking methods
The participants do either favor bookings online or in travel agencies, although when a booking is done in a travel agencies, an information gathering has usually been done in advance. Often merely the car and the flight are booked in Germany, especially in regard of online bookings. In travel agencies one rather books the entire trip.
Most of the participants are open-minded towards online bookings, many use this option. Only a few prefer to go to a travel agency. To book online is “cool”, you have “better costs”, and the curiosity is satisfied.
Especially the aspect of time plays a major role,
“I can take a look when I have time, at 10 or 11 at night”.
In Hamburg the participants are even more open-minded to online bookings than in Frankfurt. More people book online, even older participants use this option.
Search for Information
Important are the planning and the gathering of information, as well comparing the prices. Own uses the internet, books and acquaintances as source of information.
Also movies like e.g. “Baywatch” or “The Streets of San Francisco” usually help to gather information, or to get an impression.
The participants claim to use search pages such as Google or Web.de for their information seeking.
Also used are online travel providers such as Opodo or LTU.
Frequently used are also sites that compare various airlines. Another source of information are online forums.
Most of the participants do seldom or never use the websites of tourist bureaus.
The reasons are:
- “I visit websites from the region”
- “I use it for latest information when I’m in the nation, not now”
- regarding Thailand, there were “no information, and only obsolete things”
- regarding Greece, “I wrote once to them, but never received an answer”- “I rather used the sites of the national parks for my California trip”
The personal impression of California is a “mixture of various impressions”, and is influenced by various factors, e.g. by personal travel experiences of friends and acquaintances, as well as reports and shows on TV.
One is interested in being able to call up the following information online:
The participants would prefer if there was “a main page that had several links, sorted by subject”.
“That there is only one contact point, e.g.
“I would search for “California” in Google”.
In Frankfurt most of the participants from the visitor group as well as from the intender group, state to plan to book their next California trip in a travel agency.
In Hamburg the majority of the intenders and users decide for an online booking.
- booking of flights
- booking of rental cars
- not necessarily the booking of hotels
Current California Spot
Several main messages on several levels have been identified, about California, about
addressee, about the attitude towards life and
messages with a request character.
None of the participants has any difficulties to name a message.
The following quotes are verbatim from the participants.
- California is diverse
- California is large and vast
- California is such a divers state, that everyone can go after his own needs
- California introduces itself
- You have many possibilities to do something in this state, there is an immense diversity
- Sport, freedom, relaxation
- food, drinking, sport
- all positive aspects are summarized, beach, ocean, Disney World
- Various target groups are addressed
- It has something for everyone
- It has something for every type, every taste
- California is a diverse destination for every generation
- California is everyone’s dream, suitable for every generation
- feel lucky, nonchalant, relaxed, be happy, live intensively
- The good mood was conveyed
- cool, spacey, wow, fun
- feel happy, don`t worry
- Intensive life
- Action and fun
- We live intensively, we are happy
- All are very open-minded
- Be free, come to California
- This is your day
- California makes you free and happy
The spot represents mostly what the participants associate with California.
“It reflects what I have imagined, calmness and action”.
However, you would “need to see more regions, as various activity groups”.
“I fly there because I want to get to know the countryside and the people, and they show only little of that”.
The spot is basically seen as appealing and professional, however there are some criticized aspects.
The spot is neither assessed as unclear nor as surprising.
One has the impression “they try to address every target group”.
Further, one wants to “stuff everything into the spot, what is associated with the state”, “whether this is right or wrong cannot be assessed”.
Based on the spot “I would not have booked the vacation”. “It shows everything, if you know that it is there, but it doesn’t say anything, it shows no highlights”.
If you have already been in California “you can associate it with that, if not than it is anywhere”.
“You don’t see any landscapes, that makes you want to go there”.
“The spot was typically American, but California is not typically American, that is a discrepancy”.
“It sells better”
Appealing to people who haven’t been to California, yet
Celebrities are usually also used in Germany
It is good to see some familiar faces
It helps to remember the spot
Schwarzenegger is California
They fit to California
You don’t need celebrities
The Hollywood sign was missing
It is overloaded
Rather for younger people
Clint Eastwood or Terri Hatcher don’t fit
I place no value on thatUse of Celebrities
Other celebrities that are associated with California are:
As rather unsuitable are mentioned Pamela Anderson and Barbara Becker.
The commentaries about Thomas Gottschalk are mostly
The commentaries about JürgenKlinsmann are also mostly
One participant has the following opinion,
“Of all the suggested celebrities Klinsmann is the only one who has sufficient sympathy factor, but I wouldn’t necessarily associate him with California”.
The participants see Steffi Graf also as rather unsuitable,
although the reactions are not that negative here.
Most of the participants don’t know John Cleese, he is rather associated with “Monty Python’s”. He appears “too British, too
David Beckham “is associated with soccer, and what has
California to do with soccer?”
“That Beckham, and his wife, they appear like an artificial product”.
“These are people where you would think, they would do everything as long as the money is right”.
The participants show not much sympathy to any of the suggested celebrities.
“If they want someone who talks German, they should rather look for someone who has a certain credibility”, someone “who really has to do something with that state”.
“I want to have an American. Schwarzenegger is o.k., that is something different, I want an American, not a German”.
“Those guys like Schwarzenegger, that are real men, down-to-earth, he stands for something”.
The tagline is assessed positively and as
fitting, although it is not “the big hit” and lacks the “wow feeling”.
It “passed too quickly” and it is also “exchangeable”.
A suggested alternative would be “express yourself”.
Fits, there is something for everyone
You can find yourself in nature
Has a lot to do with activities
You can fulfill yourself
Everyone can present himself
It has a reference
Too quickly presented
It also fits to whiskey
I can also find myself in other countries
The state is too commercial that it would fit
The individualism should be more emphasized
Like Lufthansa, a better way to flyTaglineCalifornia find yourself her
The winter spot is rather negatively assessed by the participants. Although it has a “surprise effect”, “you think you’ve landed in the Alps”, the spot is “very irritating”.
Most of the participants associate California with
“summer”, “warmth, ocean, and not high mountains”.
Altogether the spot is seen as “unfitting for California”, the winter scenario is “not a nice additional, positive effect”, it is merely “a small aspect of California” and “specifically you need to know that you can go skiing in the Sierra Nevada”.
The participants don’t like this idea.
To all of them California is associated with sun, warmth, beaches.
The spot per se is appealing, “somehow a round thing, it shows that there is also a different side, besides the one that everyone knows and uses”, but the idea of winter sport is not assessed as attractive, it only appeals to skiing fans, although “I would like to have these snow pictures in there, but not related to sport”. However, one is “willing to have both spots running”.
The spot is surprising, generally one would not have associated California with winter, however one does not feel addressed by it, it “is not interesting”, “it is no addition”. The spot shows “pressure, fun, fun, fun. Why can’t they go walking in the woods?”
Over the beach, “emphasizes the relaxation”
Board Meetings are assessed positively
The spot is “quite funny”
“It is sophisticated”
“It addresses various age groups”
The wine grower scenes are positively assessed
The beginning is too strenuous
Too much emphasize on sport
Too much emphasize on activities
The celebrities are unknown
Everything is missing, it could also be Switzerland or Nova Scotia
It shows nothing of California
One or two highlights are missing
It is exchangeable
The last picture could also be the Baltic Sea or North SeaNew Ad – Main Message
The new ad is altogether positively assessed.
It is said to be “better than the films”. It is
“closer, not jet-set like”, “more honest”, it doesn’t show “some beach beauties”.
What is especially liked is “the slight ironic text from the working environment, that is shown with different pictures”.
The logo is altogether positively assessed,
“yellow can stand for the sun and blue for the water and the ocean”, “it is not so massive”, “it is o.k., simple and touching”.
Negatively mentioned is that it “looks unfinished, looks like self-painted”, “something similar already exists, regarding the colors”, and the “writing is insignificant”.