Sonoma– the brand–tea kettles to purses

filed under: Wine Country Living posted on November 5th, 2007

As a relatively recent (1999) transplant to Sonoma County, I don’t need to be sold on the Sonoma County lifestyle.  I do spend a lot of time with out of town country property buyers showing them what makes Sonoma County special to me:  the stunning views, fabulous food and wine, the gardening paradise and fabulous places to ride and a very active equestrian community.  According to yesterday’s Press Democrat, much of the US is taking it’s appreciation of the Sonoma lifestyle national.  “The name Sonoma can now be found on everything from field glasses by Tasco to a lounge chair at Ace Hardware, tableware by Thomson to tea kettles by Farberware. Coach, the ultimate name in aspirational handbags, featured a Sonoma line of natural grain leather purses that sold in the three figures. Men can order a pair of H.S. Trask “Sonoma” loafers for $170. “Sonoma” is one of the leading house brands for Kohl’s Department Stores, putting Sonoma on blue jeans and bath towels. Montgomery Ward is peddling a Sonoma line of furniture. The even more well-heeled homeowner can capture a bit of Wine Country glamour by logging on to and ordering up the “Sonoma” wicker and mahogany outdoor bar set for $3,263.”

“Co-opting cachet

Sonoma carries what marketing experts call “geographic equity.” Manufacturers, restaurants and retailers can gain an immediate response from consumers, even without marketing, by co-opting the cachet of a place, even if the product was made in China and has no connection to the area at all, said Damon Aiken, a professor of marketing at Western Washington University, who has studied the phenomenon.”

Apparently Napa doesn’t carry quite the same cachet with marketers, being a measly two syllable word, which aside from the obvious wine connotations (an area in which it pre-dates Sonoma in fame–remember the old Sonapanoma Mendocino ads?  That will really date you if you do–Italian Swiss Colony ads from the 60’s cashed in on Northern California cachet.)

Napa apparently resonates with branding experts and marketers in terms of car parts too–less appetizing if you are planning to open a trendy eatery in Washington DC, Dallas or New Zealand.

 What do locals think of this exalted marketing status?  Considering the fact that tourism brings over a billion dollars into Sonoma county businesses, more than doubling from $500 million in 2000, and one of the top 3 industries in the county, along with wine and technology, it can’t be all bad.  More on this later.

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on Sonoma– the brand–tea kettles to purses