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Marketing local products:
Short and long distribution channels

[ Summary ]

Section I
Marketing local products via short distribution channels


Chapter 4
The different forms of marketing



4.5 Sale combined with a cultural
or tourist service


Urban consumers often want to know more about the methods of producing goods. They are also very keen to pass on knowledge and know-how to their children. If they are to “consume the rural environment”, they need to actually participate in an activity, e.g. helping to make a product, going on a cycling route, watching a show, etc.

Selling to tourists is a variant on direct farm selling, except in this case what is sold is more of a service than a food product. It is a leisure or a cultural product, knowledge about or a link with the history of an area, a pleasant interlude. As mentioned earlier, it is rare to sell large quantities of food products via this type of distribution channel.

Installation requirements

  • It must be situated in a local tourist area or a site of cultural or tourist interest.
  • The right knowledge and proper aids are required to provide the service.


  • The service must be designed to recover in earnings the work that it entails.

  • A complete service must be offered at a fixed price, where customers pay only for booking their day out.

  • A “key” to discovering the site must be provided (booklet, exhibition, etc.).

Customer requirements

  • To be able to consume the product at a fixed price, with the whole service included.

  • To have every detail organised for them (e.g. in the case of a cycling excursion, the service provider should supply the bicycles on the spot).

  • To receive information and explanations (guided tour, documentation, leaflet, etc.).

  • A welcoming atmosphere, enjoyment, rest and relaxation (a place to have a drink, etc.).

    Discovering organic farming by bicycle: the “Eko-Boerderij Route” (Drenthe, Netherlands)

    The product being sold is a leisure product (a bicycle tour), combined with a cultural product (an explanation of the special features of organic farming). Along the 42-km cycle route, customers discover seven organic farms where they receive explanations about production methods and can buy products.

    In quantitative terms, sales of products remain limited. Customers are not going to ride 42 km by bicycle every time they want to buy organic vegetables. The farmers’ intention is not direct selling but promotion. Associating their name with leisure cycling increases sales through commercial distribution channels (supermarkets, specialised shops where the products are sold). The leisure product allows for the free use of advertising channels (e.g. cycling magazines) and attracts the support of national tourist offices.

    For a more detailed description of this initiative, see the directory of “Innovative action programmes and rural development” (LEADER European Observatory).


Potential and risk level of the different forms of marketing and types of product
Form of marketing Type of product Potential Risk
Direct farm sales Farm produce (vegetables, poultry, cheese, wines, etc.), including fresh products + to ++ (depending on patronage, hence on the location of the farm) 0 to +
Local tourist fair All types of local product but especially festive goods + to ++ depending on patronage +
Distance selling Products which keep well + + to ++ depending on mail shots and means of promotion
Mail order selling Store cupboard items, especially wines and festive goods +++ +++
Collective shop in town All types of product, including fresh products (complete range) +++ +++
Urban fair for local products Festive products ++ to +++ + to ++
Local markets All types of product, depending on patronage of the market + to ++ + to ++

N.B.: + low; ++ average; +++ high.

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