Project: New Brand Strategy for Eurocamp, 2001
Agency:Barrington Johnson Lorains & Partners
With almost thirty years’ experience in self-drive European camping, Eurocamp was the established market leader. The culmination of a loyal customer base, consistently high customer satisfaction rates and an unrivalled reputation in the market, Eurocamp had established itself as the generic European camping brand by the close of the 1990s.
In 2001, Eurocamp set its marketing team a formidable task: increase customer growth by 5 per cent.
With booking figures of approximately 26,000 per annum, this required an influx of 1,300 new customers (and incremental sales worth approximately £975,000).
To recruit 1,300 new customers from the existing camping marketplace was an extremely difficult task. The entire European camping marketplace in the UK measured just 100,000 households and Eurocamp’s existing marcomms strategy had concentrated predominantly on retention through direct mailings.
Eurocamp, like many camping competitors, had been unable to recruit new customers to the brand, stalling in the wake of increased demand for self-catering apartment holidays and the proliferation of discounted breaks.
Secondly, bookings from the company’s own customer database were proving static, even in decline, having been optimised by previous mailing programmes. Customer loyalty, the bedrock upon which Eurocamp had previously built its foundations, was beginning to subside. Increased consumer choice, allied with a growth in discounted holidays, within the camping marketplace and elsewhere, had begun to take its toll on Eurocamp’s traditional customer base.
The objective of 5 per cent growth in 2001 looked extremely unlikely from traditional market channels.
In Spring 2001, BJL and Morwenna Angove, Eurocamp’s sales and marketing director, assembled a team to establish where potential new customers could be recruited.
It soon became apparent that the UK’s broader self-catering market held the key for future customer growth. With over 4m households in the country taking a self-catering break each year, the potential was vast and, until then, untapped.
Both self-catering and camping holidays have many commonalities – including offering holidaymakers complete independence whilst on holiday – and the view amongst the team was that a Eurocamp holiday, presented correctly, would be an attractive proposition for many of these 4m households.
Understanding the new target audience was pivotal to the success of the campaign. In-depth research was commissioned across the country with a variety of self-catering holidaymakers. The results were enlightening and invaluable for the new approach.
Initially, amongst the research groups the concept of camping was met with a curt dismissal. Years of negative stereotyping, some of it personally endured, some imagined, threatened to cloud the rational, tangible appeal of camping as a holiday.
In fact, when participants were faced with unbranded images of Eurocamp’s sites, facilities (pools, children’s clubs) and accommodation (mobile home interiors) the reaction was one of interest and an initial attraction. For many, the “mystery” brand was something they may have been willing to try and the images shown reflected what they most wanted out of their holiday (fantastic locations, clean beaches, quality accommodation and activities for their children). Ironically, these were some of the elements they had compromised on during past self-catering breaks.
Regardless of the rational appeal of a Eurocamp holiday, however, attaching the brand name to these engaging images created a confusing juxtaposition for most of the groups. On sight of the logo – and, more crucially, on seeing the word “camp” – the groups’ latent hostilities quickly surfaced.
It was with this irrational preconception of camping holidays in mind that the team developed their strategy for 2001.
The fundamental challenge for the new strategy was to combat decades of negative stereotyping. Even the brand name itself was problematic, explicitly describing the nature of the holiday and therefore hindering its appeal before people had even witnessed the product. Yet, with thirty years’ experience and as the market leader, it would have been unwise to simply implement a re-branding as a panacea.
Instead, the strategy was to build upon the latent strengths of the product and shift the focus away from the negative traits associated with camping. BJL set about a new creative approach, comparing a Eurocamp holiday to other self-catering breaks and positioning the product as a credible mainstream offering. A Eurocamp holiday had proven itself, in research groups, to contain everything, and more, people expected from a holiday and so the new advertising challenged people to “upgrade their holiday experience”.
This “upgrade” led to a revision of camping terminology. For instance, mobile homes become “holiday homes”, sites more refined “parcs”, whilst staying in a tent emerged as a night “under canvas”.
The focus of the creative was now on the exceptional facilities available at most parcs – large pools, great locations, kids’ clubs and spacious holiday home accommodation (“canvas” was deemed too “rustic” to approach the new market with). Eurocamp’s holidays offered each of these extras as standard and comprised a rational and financial reason to make the change to self-drive self-catering.
The resultant “upgrade” campaign, which told of “first-class seats” and “five-million-star accommodation”, commenced in January 2001. It included a DRTV advertisement, narrated by Cold Feet star Helen Baxendale, press display advertising, traditional classified insertions and a revamped direct mailing programme. This was the largest advertising campaign the company had ever undertaken and heralded the arrival of Eurocamp as a “new” self-catering operator in an ever-increasing, ultra-competitive marketplace.
2001 was the most successful season in Eurocamp’s history.
The “upgrade” campaign introduced 26,000 new enquirers to the brand; of these, just over 2,500 booked a summer holiday. This represented an astonishing 10 per cent growth and incremental sales of around £1.8m, on a total spend of just £500,000. Incredibly, 89 per cent of the new customers had never taken a camping holiday before.
Eurocamp’s existing database also witnessed increased booking activity from the new “upgrade” mailing programme. Enquirer conversion rates rose by 38 per cent, customers’ by 83 per cent.
Fundamentally, the campaign had succeeded not only in recruiting huge numbers of new people, but also in retaining and reactivating past customers and enquirers. All without compromising Eurocamp’s desire to maintain a premium pricing structure in the camping environment.
Subsequent research and database analysis over the following two years has proven the burgeoning mainstream appeal of Eurocamp. Database profiling, undertaken by analysts Talking Numbers, has indicated a new breed of Eurocamp customer who in the next few years will form the heart of Eurocamp’s database.
With lower affluence, a broader lifestyle profile than traditional Eurocamp customers, a tendency to prefer holiday homes in high season and, encouragingly, a higher propensity to make repeat bookings, the new customers are informing the company’s approach to NPD, customer profiling, pricing and geographical expansion.
The “upgrade” campaign sought to dispel the myths and position camping as a better way to self-cater. This approach was imperative due to the diminishing customer franchise Eurocamp was faced with and the approach has succeeded over the past three years in fostering a gradual sense of awareness and rational appreciation of the product.
Therefore, Eurocamp looks to the future with new optimism, a new sense of purpose and, crucially, a new customer following.