Thursday, November 01, 2007

Jewelry and pajamas from 14A

If air transport is becoming a commodity product then airlines must focus increasing attention on their brand creation and value proposition. Differentiation is challenging to obtain as there are relatively few to no patents possible in the industry. My previous research has shown that regardless how innovative airlines may be their nearest competitors are not shy to imitate their best ideas. One of the relative few safe havens and differentiators is the network, however as open skies and deregulation crumble bilateral hurdles these barriers will disappear. Therefore, subjects such as CRM, unique experiences, self service are all factors that can aid airlines in creating value and differentiation. That is why I always enjoy reading about airlines that attempt to create a unique and inimitable travel experience for their customers. Sterling in Scandinavia recently held a fashion show on board one of their flights which was co-branded with Pilgrim, a fashion accessory brand. Virgin America just announced the opportunity to fly SFO-JFK with two Victoria Secret models on board and a pajama party. Events such as these allow the airlines to capitalize on co-branding and give a boost to their brand. I predict that we will see much more of this, however it will be dominated by LCCs. Their customer base may be more receptive to such initiatives and the airlines can experiment more with offerings. However, network carriers will learn to offer their valued business customers similar experiences. Such as testing the latest cell phone or PDA.

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