There are hundreds of licorice varieties, and while I am no connoisseur, I do feel as though I’ve enjoyed my share. There are the chewy and sweet Licorice Scottie Dogs I pick up at Trader Joe’s and the Salty Licorice Fish from Ikea … odd, really, that I enjoy them.
Then there is the Australian-style liqourice. This variety is smooth, soft and very thick (which is, what I’m told, makes it Australian). I purchase my favorite kind, Wiley Wallaby Australian Style liqourice, from the boutique grocery near the Capsule office that boasts a large selection of local Minnesota products.
What does my delicious Wiley Wallaby liqourice have to do with local products? It turns out, Wiley Wallaby is a Minnesota-based company, hailing from Perham–a small town about three hours Northwest of the Twin Cities. But you would never know it by looking at the packaging. Is this product local or exotic? Does it matter?
Brands undoubtedly capitalize on locale in the marketing of their products. Think of Volkswagen. From its “Das Auto” tagline to its Autobahn Sales Event with the adorable German spokesperson, VW relies heavily on its German heritage. Would a VW be as attractive without its German association? Likely not, as many purchasers are drawn to the allure of German automobile engineering.
So what does being Australian say about a brand? Aussie hair care products, produced in America by Proctor & Gamble (and not sold in Australia), sport the image of a kangaroo. Outback Steakhouse, founded in Tampa, Fl., models its image and dining experience around the idea of the boundless and adventurous Australian wilderness. Foster’s Australian lager is an Australian brand, but does not enjoy widespread success in its own country.
And Wiley Wallaby liquorice? There isn’t a kangaroo on the bag, but there is a wallaby, which pretty much seems like the same idea. With “Australian” to your name, even when you are not really Australian, you seem to take on the personality of natural, adventurous and larger-than-life.
For the record, Capsule’s resident Aussie–Research Manager Yvette Webster–claims there is no such thing as Australian-style liquorice. But would we be as likely to buy Wiley Wallaby if it boasted Perham-style licorice? Maybe. Maybe not. But the question is worth asking yourself as you go about consuming in your daily life.
What does location say about the brands we associate ourselves with and the products we purchase? What do our choices to purchase those products say about us? And are we at all concerned about authenticity? All this thinking is making me hungry. I think I’ll go buy a bag of liqourice.