The „KäseStrasse“ brand
A process of brand reorganisation with cooperating companies to strengthen the local brand and safeguard cheese culture
- Topic area
- Agriculture and forestry, incl. value chain
- Disaggregation level
- Alpine pasture management & mountain agriculture
- Business management
- Project region
- Local Action Group (LAG)
- LAG REGIO-V Regionalentwicklung Vorarlberg
- LE– Programming Period
- LE 14–20
- Project period
- Project costs overall
- 182 744,00 €
- Subsidy from LE 14-20
- 73 097,60 €
- EN - 19.2.1. Umsetzung der lokalen Entwicklungsstrategie
- Project initiator
- Käsestrasse Bregenzerwald GmbH
Short descriptionThe ‘KäseStrasse Bregenzerwald’ is an association for the preservation and promotion of the `Bregenzerwald’ cheese culture and was founded in 1998 with the support of the EU LEADER fund. The aim was to position a leading regional product for agriculture and tourism. The licensing model led to an increasing bypassing of the ‘KäseStrasse Bregenzerwald’ brand, which in recent years has increasingly limited the brand´s ability to act and led to a certain discontent among its members.
The termination of the licensing model into an umbrella brand organisation "KäseStrasse" for producing companies is not only a significant consolidation step, but also challenges the organisation to completely revise and implement its brand concept and the brand organisation. The aim of this project is to set the strategic course outlined above.
Point of departureThe ‘KäseStrasse Bregenzerwald’ is an association for the preservation and promotion of the Bregenzerwald cheese culture and was founded in 1998 with the support of the EU LEADER fund as a broad cooperation of farmers, shepherd huts and cheesemakers, tourism (cheese farmers), craftsmen and marketers with 150 members. The aim was to position a leading regional product for agriculture and tourism.
The brand work focused on two areas of activity:
1. The development of a range of cheeses and its positioning on the market: Silage-free production was pointed out as a unique selling point, as only 2% of milk produced in the EU is from silage-free agriculture. The Bregenzerwald-region is the largest connected silage-free region in the EU (hay-milk region). Note: out of the 2.4 billion litres of silage-free EU milk, 45 million litres come from the Bregenzerwald alone!
2. Development of offer in the adventure and tourism sector: with offers such as: cheese hosts, cheese & wine, cheese autumn, cheese hiking trails, alpine experience, etc., the region was positioned as an adventure and culinary region. Via tourism, the regional adventure brand has very quickly developed into an internationally renowned brand. The level of awareness of ‘Bregenzerwald’ was significantly increased.
It can be assumed that the high degree of awareness and indirectly the ‘KäseStrasse’ is still a criterion for bookings. The situation described is in principle a good condition for a higher-priced product. In the past, the brand concept for the cheese range included a licensing model, which was also intended to form the financial basis for the further development and maintenance of the brand. This means that the sale of the leading product cheese, in addition to the membership fees, should finance ongoing brand work (development of adventure offers, expansion of the cheese range, quality assurance, member support, etc.).
To ensure this, cooperation agreements in the form of licence agreements have been concluded with trading partners in the bulk consumer and end customer sectors. The contracts were also called "triangle contracts" because it was an agreement between the manufacturer, retailers and the trademark owner. These three players had a contractual relationship. The agreed royalties for the use of the brand per product sold led to a systemic circumvention of the "KäseStrasse Bregenzerwald" brand label, which in recent years has increasingly restricted the brand organisation's ability to act and led to a certain discontent among its members. Customers were increasingly offered cheese of the same origin without the "KäseStrasse" brand, but with different information on the origins of Bregenzerwald, and the "KäseStrasse" brand owner was thus put in financial straits.
In times of prosperity for example, around 600 tons of cheese were awarded the ‘KäseStrasse’ logo every year and thus licensed.
However, the brand owner advertised the entire cheese region with a production volume of approx. 4,500 tons. This share of 19% at that time has now fallen to 2.5%. This situation makes it clear that end-product licensing is the wrong way for the survival of a regional umbrella brand organization. However, since all milk-processing producers (alpine dairies) benefit from the public relations and brand work of KäseStrasse, it has become necessary to initiate restructuring measures and seek a new financing approach.
The success of the brand is undisputed. A clear indication of this is the per capita consumption of cheese in Austria, which has risen by 30% in the last 18 years. A quantity that has lasted for the past 10 years. In addition, in the NUTS3 comparison, the Bregenzerwald is now among the highest milk prices in Europe. A success that results from the cooperation of farmers, processors and consumers. In the meantime, the licence agreements have largely been terminated and agreement has been reached with the dairy members on the value of the KäseStrasse brand initiative. The 17 village dairies and 22 alpine dairies (core members of the KäseStrasse) have now decided to secure the financing of the umbrella brand organisation through a base financing of € 0.003 per kg milk per year (basis of assessment is the milk quantity of 26,667 kg - milk quantity exceeding the previous marketing year). The aim is to avoid payment evasions, to restore the lucrative use of the brand and to strengthen the common interest in this important local brand.
The dissolution of the license model into an umbrella brand organisation "KäseStrasse" for producing companies is not only a significant consolidation step, but also presents the organisation with the challenge of completely revising and implementing the brand concept and the brand organisation. The aim of the present project is to set the strategic course outlined above. The application of the existing word-image trademark is to be increased from the current 2.5% - of the core dairies producing in the Bregenzerwald - to 60% and thus a multiplication of market presence is to be achieved.
Note: When the trademark is mentioned, it is not only the figurative trademark (logo, trademark, brand mark) that is mentioned. Behind the "KäseStrasse" brand is the sum of all measures which position the leading product of the KäseStrasse in its uniqueness on the market. It therefore affects (almost) all actions of the KäseStrasse brand organisation.
Targets and target groupsThe project aims to complete the strategy change from a licensing model to an umbrella brand (service) organisation for manufacturing companies. With the completion of the project, the brand organisation has been strengthened and is a decisive link between the 17 village dairies, the 22 alpine dairies and the marketers. The presence of the existing figurative trademark has increased from 2.5% (of the quantity of cheese produced by the core dairies in the Bregenzerwald) to 60%. In addition, the brand range was expanded to include sheep and goat cheese and other dairy products.
With the implemented umbrella brand organization, measures have been introduced that lead to continuous quality improvement and stronger cooperation between the companies. The project focuses on the development of the umbrella brand organisation "KäseStrasse". One focus is the positioning of the brand with the leading product cheese or GMO-free hay-milk products; as a product brand = quality brand and seal of approval.
An accompanying measure in the project is the strengthening of the original brand "aus der Region KäseStrasse Bregenzerwald" or "aus dem Bregenzerwald". In the area of the original brand "Bregenzerwald", cooperation with regional players (tourism, gastronomy, handcraft, trade) is increasingly sought within the scope of the project. The embossing of the original brand is a common concern of: Bregenzerwald ‘KäseStrasse’, Bregenzerwald Tourism, Bregenzerwald Work Area, honestly Bregenzerwald etc.. The aim here is to exploit maximum synergies for a strong original brand for all regional brand representatives. An indicator of this are the joint actions or appearances of the organisations at presentations, trade fairs, local events, etc. At least two joint actions per year will be carried out during the project period.
Project implementation and measuresThe most desired effect of the change of strategy is the preservation of a closed hay-milk region Bregenzerwald as an inestimable unique selling point. It is expected that five years after completion of the project, more than 95% of dairy farmers will continue to farm silage-free and use GM-free concentrated feed from the EU area (note: farmers with suckler cows are excluded).
The project is intended to increase the willingness of producers to cooperate in the areas of product development, quality assurance and marketing (possibly also joint central purchasing, accounting, etc.). The stronger joint appearance will further expand the market position of cheese from the Bregenzerwald and further stabilize the milk price. At least a 3% milk price increase is expected from the brand work, which means an annual increase in value added of € 675,000. The project therefore makes an important contribution to strengthening the region (increase in purchasing power, resilience, contribution to the preservation of the cultural landscape).