JWT’s predictive report on consumer behavior (10 Trends for 2013- http://www.jwtintelligence.com/shop/10-trends-for-2013/) spurs thinking and you immediately join the dots to your area of brands and function.
How can these trends shape an Indian airline’s brand communication and messaging?
How can an airline brand define its stance in the midst of a behavior change and transformation?
Most airlines abroad have used tested models on the same trends. Can we replicate the same considering the emphasis on these trends?
Please note these are thoughts that require certainly very deeper conversations with the stakeholders to understand the operational side of the story but I am certain that a movement towards creating differentiation and aspiration can be worked upon.
Play as a competitive advantage: “…unstructured time begets more imagination, creativity and innovation – all competitive advantages.
For an airline to stand in the market place, differentiated, the customer service has to be a signature. The delivery of service is often uncontrolled and spontaneous. Though training and manuals can set standards and guide the delivery, the human resource and service interface is a game of moment. For the empathy and understanding that this line of staff needs to embody, an airline needs to invest more in alternative learning. It needs to address the emotional setup of these members of service. Focus on creative workshops; to spur the element of fun and sensitivity, music therapies; to address communications and let it sort emotions, hobby classes; to develop thinking.
Happy People. Happy Service.
2. The Super Stress Era: “And…governments, employers and brands alike will need to ramp up efforts to help prevent and reduce it”
This is a trend that should translate into a visual and emotional excitement for all travel brand pundits. The romance of travel can now be re-christened and re-positioned in the modern context to overcome the stress that is financial and emotional. Position travel as a stress buster. Make the airline a stress free journey. Talk about ease and peace. Choose an image that speaks the language of empathy, understanding and sensitivity. Analyze what stresses the travelers most. Is it the thought of ending a holiday and entering monotony? If so, then can your airline say:
One holiday ends so the other can begin. Take a holiday again and again with our low fares and easy connectivity.
Personalization is a magic that spreads fast. It multiplies its impact and begets loyalty. Look at British Airways Know Me program, where customers were mapped and extended a personalized service or KLM Surprise (http://surprise.klm.com/) where a football maverick flying on board was presented with foot ball event calendar. Does it have to be expensive? No. It is a part of the service culture within an organization and it should be spontaneous. Surprisingly, not a single airline in India owns this space strongly.
First-time fliers given a mark of care and love, mothers with children given a relief moment, a birthday not gone unnoticed or newly married couples made to feel special.
An excellent opportunity for airlines to co-brand with third party vendors like a Mothercare for a child pillow, a collection of postcards from Hallmark (the in-flight team gives to the first time fliers saying: Hope you had a good first flight. We look forward to serving you again. J). The cost for printing a post card will be less but the impact will be very far reaching.
The most “no-brainer” personalization can be applied to an old couple or a pregnant woman. It is visually most evident and all it takes is CARE.
Can we extend it to messaging?
Can we celebrate moments of personalization on our advertising campaigns?
New aircraft. New Wow.
You don’t want to miss this!
(A child showed marveling at the magnificence of the aircraft)
Everything is retail
And every customer’s mind is retail. It wants choices, it wants multiple pricing, it wants to buy.
An airline needs to focus on their in-flight shopping capabilities. This is the right time to create a differentiation that can make someone change his/her mind while choosing the airline.
Health & Happiness
Health and happiness are linked even strongly in these times, when wellness is the buzz word. Wellness food, wellness experiences or wellness locations, you name it and it is there for most of us who can afford it. Can airlines introduce a wellness meal? A free access to some stress busters especially for the business class customer? A movement that teaches some exercises you could do when on board to keep your muscles relaxed on a long haul flight?
Just imagine an in-flight attendant walking in the aisle just to notice that you are moving your arms too many times, comes to you and shows you an exercise you could do that keeps your arms.
Qatar Airways has tied up with Deepak Chopra on Health and well being onboard.
Who can forget the touch of Singapore Airlines, the essence of their planes and the voice of their service? It was one airline that predicted the explosion of sensory branding.
Airlines in India can now take sense seriously.
Each sense can be a brand touch point.
An airline that speaks in one single voice with characteristic style and tone.
Airlines can brand their perfumes, increase the visual drama in-flights by brighter uniform, expressive service gestures and a warm touch so much so that it should say, I am ___ airline.
Taste in another sense that can spur loyalty for an airline. In-flight meals’ presentation and taste can create a signature for the airline. Can Airlines organize Food Festivals at 35000 feet? Can flights bound to Goa carry Christmas and New Year muffins/cakes?