How Airlines can be most effective for marketing luxury goods

Airlines serve one of the best customers, who can afford indulgence and luxury. They are the best medium to get the target audiences for luxury brands. The only reason why it made me think so was looking at the kind of losses Indian airlines companies are going into even after serving the customers who won’t think before spending extra dimes for comfort and entertainment.

Airlines in India, although struggling to get a push in terms of FDI, have huge potential to turn things around. There are other things which airlines can focus on to increase revenue or market share. A domestic flight takes minimum 1-2 hrs. to reach destination, also, there is a boarding time for approx. 30 mins. This is the time when 80 percent of the folks traveling have nothing substantial or important to do. This is the time when anyone will read the lamest magazine available (one can sleep but it is not that comfortable). So why not have something else which interests or increases one’s IQ about technological advances going around us, something which can keep us engaged, something which can keep small flight hiccups at bay and let fliers enjoy the luxury.

Let’s divide airline services in India into three major categories. First category has destination fliers belonging to tier-1 cities, this category has the maximum proportion of heavy spenders, who try on the most luxurious brands which need grand openings in India, the brands which do not have an established market or are trying to enter the country. Let’s say in food & beverages Starbucks, Papa John’s or in technology Apple’s new products(i-pod 6G, ipad2), or in gaming or new phones like Sony Ericsson’s Xperia, or in snacks with new cookie launched or Pepsi/coke’s new campaign. This is the place where these brands can engage and can actually make people think about how good they can be in their leisure.

Second category has destination fliers of tier-2 cities, this category is ready to spend as much as they can to match the first category: they just need a push, which can give them some silly reason to spend on. This category also includes majorly the youth who want to be ahead of the world in every possible term. Everyone in this category wants to give a try to things for which they are never given a chance. Marketing products to this category has the best returns. This category should be marketed products which are already established in tier-1 and somewhat established in tier-2 cities too.


Third category is the one which has a little less experience, sometimes they don’t even know about products and are on back-foot for spending on luxury. Although the travelers of this category are mostly on office-sponsored trips or need to spend an extra buck to fly, but they are the ones whom everyone in their circle looks up to. If they are wearing the Louis Philippe, their friend will too. They are kind of ambassadors to a brand. In-fact, these are the target customers of luxury brands from tier-3 cities. So introducing them to the brands will solve the purpose of advertising to the target audience from this segment though the results might not be as apparent as in the previous two categories due to constraints in their spending power.

Message here is quite clear : Airlines are the best medium for marketing any luxury, leisure or indulgence product. Internet might be the first and foremost medium but the fact is it is going to be virtual experience. Nothing can beat the real experience, if the product is good. This will have multiple benefits as customers prefer the airline which serves best and also keep fliers busy. Airline will generate revenue from marketing products, products will get hands on reviews from its target audience and the same audience will be thanking airline for keeping them updated in a better way with the growing world around them and for making better choices. 

[The article has been written by Sandeep Tharwani. He did his B Tech from NIT Calicut in 2009 and is presently working as consultant in Deloitte Consulting, Hyderabad. He loves to explore the area of marketing and brand management as much as he likes equity trading (analysis) and studying market trends.  ]

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