You see a country's "customers" are its investors, tourists, traders, market intermediaries, NGOs, and office-holders in other countries and in multilateral institutions. Their interactions with one another take place in a complex environment, affected by governments, social forces, cultural factors, and markets.
The country must clearly identify its clientele: who are they, what motivates them, what do they do and buy (and how, where and when), what are their decision-making processes and priorities, who influences these and how. It is important to remember that people and institutions buy goods and services to satisfy needs. Nation branding is tantamount to casting the country as the superior if not exclusive answer to those needs it can cater to or even create.
The country's brand manager would do well to analyze the purchasing process: how, when, and where transactions are concluded. Understanding consumption and investment habits and patterns allows for better targeting and education of relevant market segments in order to influence and alter the behavior of target customers. They must also understand the people not only living in the country but visiting it. Understanding their psychology and demographics is crucial.
In this scenario the brand manager must distinguish consumer customers from business customers and from institutional customers. Consumer customers purchase goods and services from the country for their own consumption. Even tourists are consumer customers.
Business customers buy goods and services from the country on behalf of third parties. Tour operators are business customers. Business customers operate on a large scale and are, therefore, less numerous and less dispersed than consumer customers. Consequently, it is easier to foster long-term and close relationships with them. But, being dependent as they are on end-users, theirs is a volatile, demand-driven market. Moreover, business customers are tough negotiators (though some of them seek quality rather than price advantage).
Institutional customers assemble information about the country and analyze it in order to make or to influence political and credit decisions. Banks, governments, NGOs, and lenders evaluate and finance tourism projects based on such data.
To attract these movers and shakers, the country's brand manager must constantly monitor the global economy as well as the economies of the nation's main partners. Everything, from monetary policy to regulatory and fiscal developments affect purchasing and investment decisions.
So the next time you think of branding, take a step back and realize that everyone does it and needs to do it to stay "in business", including who countries.
Good Luck and More Successful Branding
Tuxedo Branding Blog Administrator