AirAsia tries to move low-cost model upmarket

AirAsia Ad 1.jpgMalaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia is trying to position itself as a “high quality, sleek and cool brand” in Southeast Asia with these ads.

The ‘Have You Flown AirAsia?’ campaign aims to “shift consumers’ mindset of low-cost carriers by showcasing the airline’s innovation, high quality service and unique experience”, says AirAsia.

I don’t get it. The whole point here is to project AirAsia as a low-cost but high-value carrier – but many people will agree they already are. Perceptions about low-cost carriers remain, but they will not go away. At the end of the day, a good product is all that matters and AirAsia has succeeded in doing that (barring some complaints about its customer service).

My humble opinon – by trying to create an up-market perception of the low-cost model, AirAsia seems to be doing itself a disservice.



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3 Responses to AirAsia tries to move low-cost model upmarket

  1. Shashank Nigam 26 October, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    Siva, being a regular reader of your articles, I’m intrigued by your take on the latest AirAsia brand campaign.

    AirAsia has indeed succeeded in the holy grail of branding – ensuring excellent brand delivery. They deliver what they promise. This is the hallmark of any great airline brand, like Singapore Airlines. You and I know this, since we’ve flown them before.

    But what about other potential customers who haven’t experienced flying with AirAsia? They don’t know how good the food on AirAsia is. They’re probably forming their impressions of a “low cost carrier” from that in US or Europe, where they might have flown one previously. But as you mentioned, AirAsia’s brand experience is a far cry from that of a RyanAir or a Spirit Airlines. Hence the need to set the right brand expectations too.

    And I personally think that this campaign has come at the right time – just as AirAsia X is expanding its wings in Europe, MidEast and Asia Pac. There’s a need to not just create awareness, but also differentiate the brand from a “typical LCC” that the flying public might be familiar with.

    What do you think?

  2. Siva Govindasamy 26 October, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

    That’s a tough one – where do you go vis-a-vis advertising? Upmarket or mass market? AirAsia appears to be taking the first approach with these ads – not sure if that is the best way to do it.

    Then again, if the market has changed because of the economic crisis, it might just work.

  3. Kinbin 27 October, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    Sensationalism does wonders to ticket sales. However, one would be hard pressed to call a cattle wagon a luxury people carriage instead.

    Unless they are creating a new business model, a cattle wagon remains as one, in spite of paid offerings for cushions, pillows and a haystack for comfort.

    Having taken Ryanair on several occasions, I am pleased with their style. Timely departures and arrivals. Loads of walking to the airbridge only to find out that passengers use the stairwell, and apron to board. Having travelled from London to Ireland, for a 1.5 hour flight, there were warm meals and cold meals, albeit not the Asian fare. I pay for the service I get, which is acceptable to me.

    For Air Asia to change its business model towards the middle ground, I surmise corresponding efforts to increase ticket prices. If so, it is in danger of being a run-off-the-mill carrier, neither an effective LCC nor CX-SQ grade.

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