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One third of Europe's regions is confronted with a shrinking population: they are losing inhabitants due to ageing, low fertility and brain drain. To turn the tide, many local authorities invest in place marketing aimed at attracting new residents and firms. This paper deals with the question as to how useful place marketing to beat demographic shrinkage really is. Theoretical and empirical insights from geography (e.g. place fuzziness, sense of place and locational inertia), are used to argue that there are limits to place marketing to attract newcomers. To illustrate this argument, some examples and data from European territories are presented. We conclude that it is more useful for Europe's shrinking territories to focus on ‘warm’ marketing that tries to retain rather than to attract place customers.

Keywords: Europe; demographic shrinkage; periphery; place marketing

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9663.2011.00672.x

Affiliations: Radboud University Nijmegen, Institute for Management Research and University of Twente, Institute for Innovation and Governance Studies, c/o University of Twente, PO Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, the Netherlands, Email: g.j.hospers@utwente.nl

Publication date: July 1, 2011

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