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Place brand efficiency : resident, manager and tourist perceptions of the region brand

Abstract : In the globalized world, Nowhere, Place, is directly competing against Powerful, World, to attract residents, tourists and talent, as well as firms and investments, whether the place is a meta-region, a country, a region, a city or other locations. Whilst places and destinations around the world have been proclaiming their qualities for a long time, mainly to create awareness or maintain preference, those marketing communications campaigns are short-term and don’t contribute to unifying the place. To compete in such cutthroat environments, public authorities and place agencies have started to recognize the value of adopting branding techniques by way of practising place branding. Place branding adapts several tools developed in the field of commercial branding to contribute to place development and establish image-building strategies that render places more attractive to identified markets. As such, this doctoral work endeavours to adapt mainstream marketing concepts to the context of place branding, taking into account the views of three groups of stakeholders to enhance place brand efficiency. I address these research questions in a French region-branding context, according to three sub-questions that summarise the chapters of this thesis. First, what is the advertising legitimacy of a place brand as perceived by the residents? Does it influence place-branding efficiency? Second, to what extent do place brand managers use community marketing strategies to operationalize the integrated marketing communications (IMC) role of the place brand? Third, to what extent does the region brand image constitute a relevant vehicle for promoting a destination integral to the nation brand image, as perceived by international tourists? Results show that the representational and functional dimensions of a destination brand impact differently implicit attractiveness and intentions to visit. International tourists also perceive the region and the nation brand images as congruent overall, which contributes positively to their intentions to visit the region. From a theoretical point of view, this research highlights the importance of adopting a multi-stakeholder approach to understanding place branding. Doing so contributes to the development of empirical evidence in the domain, by studying the understudied region branding form. This dissertation also highlights similarities with commercial branding and reinforces the external validity of three classic marketing concepts. The methodological implications of this work come from the different methodological approaches (i.e. measurement tools and methods), developed to meet the specificities and stakes associated with the main stakeholders of a place brand. In addition, this approach reinforces the internal validity of the present research and contributes to ruling out the existence of a declarative bias. The managerial contributions of this thesis are connected with the methodological implications, inasmuch as it provides place brand managers with diverse analysis grids that will enable them to take into account the specificities and stakes associated with the main stakeholders of the place brand, and also involve stakeholders in the place-branding process. Finally, I demonstrate the need for an IMC approach that is per se—for example, through the use of an overall brand positioning that covers shared elements between stakeholders so that they all relate to the place brand, or through the adoption of a bottom-up rather than top-down approach to place branding. This approach also should be able to extend to other place scales, by leveraging the image of a higher-order place.
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Emeline Martin. Place brand efficiency : resident, manager and tourist perceptions of the region brand. Business administration. Université Clermont Auvergne, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017CLFAD011⟩. ⟨tel-02079230⟩

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