I was reading in the Globe and Mail about the International Air Transport Association (IATA) meeting in Paris this past week....
The attendees were the leaders of many of the world's major airlines. One of the key topics was branding. Here's what Peter Knapp from Landor said to these leaders:
"If an airline wants to build brand loyalty, it must provide quality amenities and services that are uniquely its own. It's sometimes hard to see who's ahead of the pack when you have similar planes flying to similar destinations with similar services. The name of the game is to get as much difference from your competitors as possible."
The article went on to show the brand differentiation among different airlines (many airlines were featured including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Gulf Air, Harmony Airways of Canada, and Virgin Atlantic). Sadly, not one US carrier was mentioned .... but it's not surprising. It's hard to come up with any clear brand differentiation among them. They are virtually interchangeable commodities. And we all know that commodities compete on price!
I am loyal to American Airlines, but not because of any unique offering or special, branded experience, it's because of my frequent flyer status. Being Executive Platinum (EP) almost forces me to use AA.
Even though I am EP on American, I experience a much higher level of branded service on their OneWorld alliance partners. Cathay Pacific's branded service is exceptional. Every flight attendant comes by to welcome me ("We are delighted to have you on board, Mr. Arruda!") because of my status (AA Exec Platinum is Emerald in OneWorld) .... even if I am flying economy.
When flying to Hong Kong, I take a flight from the JFK to Heathrow and then take Cathay to Hong Kong. I still get my American Airlines miles and I benefit from the highly unique services of Cathay. Of course, I pay more for this .... but it's worth it! I would much rather take an American Airline's flight from JFK to Hong Kong, but the experience would not compare.
Right now, while all of the US airlines are competing in price wars and behaving as a commodity, there's a unique opportunity for one courageous US carrier to emerge as the preferred brand .... one for which people will pay a premium. Personally, I want that brand to be American Airlines. If you are reading this AA, please contact me to discuss. You have an incredible opportunity to take the lead!
BTW, I am writing this from the BA lounge (with dinner service and a full bar) at Milan Linate.
Oh, boy. The dreaded sign up form.
Before you run for the hills, we wanted to let you know that MarketingProfs has thousands of marketing resources, including this one (yes, the one behind this sign up form), entirely free!
Simply subscribe to our newsletter and get instant access to how-to articles, guides, webinars and more for nada, nothing, zip, zilch, on the house...delivered right to your inbox! MarketingProfs is the largest marketing community in the world, and we are here to help you be a better marketer.
You may also like:
- A Podcast Within a Podcast Within a Podcast: Inception Marketing With Lindsay Tjepkema on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
- B2B Content Marketing Report: Benchmarks, Budgets, Trends, and COVID-19 Response
- Effective Content Types for Each Stage of the Buyer's Journey [Infographic]
- Beyond Content Marketing: 10 Steps to Real ROI With Content Operations
- Optimize Content Strategy With Insights From a New Study: NetLine's David Fortino on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]