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Experience sharing and formation of the international platform in the field of regional products support

Regional branding is one of several ways to promote rural regions and support development of socially, culturally and environmentally oriented economies in areas that are interesting due to their natural and cultural heritage. The group that is provided most of the support includes local business people, i.e. handicraftsmen, farmers, small and medium-sized enterprises, whose skills and proficiency help to spread the region’s renown, and, at the same time, identification with the region represents a great marketing opportunity for them.

Regional brands contribute to development of sustainable tourism as they enable tourists to find their bearing when shopping in tourist regions. They also provide an alternative to the “consumer style” tourism, not only thanks to local products but also due to promotion and education that accompany branding. Buying local products and using local raw materials also reduce environmental burden because the transport distances are much shorter. Branded products, their promotion and sale, and perhaps a possibility to meet the producers in person and visit workshops or farms strengthen the region’s attractiveness for tourists, form its character and have a positive impact on perceiving the region as a whole.

Finally yet importantly, introduction of the branding system in a region initiates required co-operation among business people with a common philosophy (producers, retailers) as well as between them and the local government, representatives of nature conservancy and NGOs which results in rejuvenation of the local community and fulfilment of one of the preconditions for using different forms of support from national and international (European) sources.

At present, examples of local or regional branding of various, usually agricultural, products can be found in almost all European countries. Growing demand for products with known origin and guaranteed quality is a natural response to globalisation of production and supply.  Regional brands cannot stop this omnipresent process but they can help to mediate the way from a fair and faithful handicraftsman or farmer to an informed customer. In this way, branding can contribute to preservation or development of traditional crafts and agricultural activities, or support new ones, which may have a positive impact on the economic structure of rural areas. Development of the local communities is an accompanying and no less required consequence.

The international co-operation platform, which was formed thanks to the project “Experience sharing and formation of the international platform in the field of regional products support”, supported from the European Social Fund within the Operational Programme Human Resources“, confirms that motivation for the introduction of regional branding and its concepts have many similar features all over Europe but at the same time, there are a number of specific aspects that are connected with the different local conditions but not only with them. Mutual information exchange and inspiration can therefore contribute not only to development of specific projects but also to raising general awareness of the local production’s potential and to searching for financial sources to support them.

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Co-financed from the European Social Fund and the State Budget of the Czech Republic Spolufinancováno z Evropského sociálního fondu a státního rozpočtu ČR