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Southwest Airlines Brand Exploratory & Strategy
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Southwest Airlines Brand Exploratory & Strategy



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  • 2. INVENTORY OVERVIEW•  Key Product Attributes –  Price –  Customer Service –  Flight Times and Schedules•  Bags Fly Free Marketing Campaign –  Focus on price savings vs. competitors•  Strong Social Presence –  First airline to hit 3 Million Facebook Followers –  Over 1.3 Million Twitter Followers
  • 3. WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING – PROS “They  dont  suck  nearly  as  •  Cheap flights much  as  everyone  else.”  •  Customer service “Southwest  is  quickly   becoming  the  class  act  of  •  No fees the  American  skies.”  •  Choose your own seat “Southwest  on  a  bad  day   beats  out  anyone.”  •  Easy Check-in•  On-time/Early Flights•  Comfortable Seats
  • 4. WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING – CONS•  Seating/Boarding Experience•  Limited departure/destination cities•  Inconvenient gate locations “Southwest  saves  money  •  No first class/luxury by  leasing  the  worst  gates.”  •  Lacking on-board entertainment “I  detest  the  chaos  of  the   Southwest  boarding  process.”  
  • 5. SERVICE HIERARCHY •  Wifi  on  all  planes   PotenFal   •  More  DesFnaFons   •  Bags  Fly  Free  Augmented   •  Swabiz.com   •  A  Fun  Flight   •  On  Fme  (ish)   Expected   •  Reasonable  Price   •  Friendly  Staff   •  A  à  B   Core   •  Safety  
  • 6. IN DEPTH INTERVIEWSWHO DID WE INTERVIEW? •  18 Travelers at Tampa & Jacksonville Airports •  66% leisure travelers, 33% business travelersPURPOSE •  Determine Southwest’s brand image and associations •  Understand customer motivations when purchasing flightsSTRATEGY •  21 free elicitation questions •  Triangle scatter plots •  Projective & Laddering techniquesGOAL •  Does Southwest’s mission of exceptional customer service influence purchasing habits?
  • 7. BRAND IMAGE ELICITATION•  Colorful Planes •  Cattle Call/Crowded•  Bags Fly Free•  Fun/Happiness•  No Assigned Seats•  Good Prices•  Great Customer Service
  • 8. BRAND IMAGE PROJECTION Toyota Camry VW Jetta Ford Taurus LincolnLexus • Cadillac Honda Civic Chevy • “Old” Mini Van • Hyundai Ford Mustang Honda Civic “Red” “Sporty”
  • 9. LADDERING Low  Prices   Savings   No  Fees   Non-­‐stop   Flights   Time  is   Money   On-­‐Fme  Peace  of   Able  to  Focus   Airport   Mind   on  PrioriFes   LocaFons   Convenience   Less  Stress   Easy  Flight   Customer   Service  
  • 10. TRIANGLE SCATTER PLOT CUSTOMER SERVICE “What  do  you  value  most  when   choosing  an  airline?”      “Where  would  you  put   Southwest  on  this  diagram?”  PRICE RELIABILITY/ EASE OF TRAVEL
  • 11. SUMMARY•  Southwest’s brand image is consistent with their mission –  Fun, friendly, easygoing –  Best customer service in industry•  Customers don’t consider customer service when booking a flight –  Price, convenience more important•  Although Customer Service was not the #1 factor in the purchasing decision it was often mentioned as a reason why established customers liked to fly Southwest.•  Should be used as a retention strategy to encourage brand loyalty
  • 12. BRAND POSITIONINGPOSITION•  “The Low-Cost Leader” –  No Baggage/Change FeesFINDINGS•  8 out of 18 travelers believed Southwest was a good deal•  Average flight prices have risen 39%, vs. 10% for competitorsRECOMMENDATION•  “The Value Leader” in air travel
  • 13. ONLINE PRESENCEPOSITION•  Southwest does not partner with third party aggregatorsFINDINGS•  9 out of 18 of travelers used an aggregator•  Consumer complaints - lack of website functionality•  “It’s a pain that they are not on an aggregator.”RECOMMENDATION•  Update website to reduce customer’s need for aggregators –  Date/flight matrices –  Advanced search tools
  • 14. CURRENT ADVERTISINGPOSITION•  Free of fees•  Mainly positioned around baggageFINDINGS•  What do you think of when I say Southwest? –  6 out of 18 said Bags Fly Free•  Checking bags makes Southwest more effiecientRECOMMENDATION•  Continue to focus on Free Bags as a point of difference, reminding consumer during purchase•  Upfront & honest pricing strategy
  • 15. SOCIAL MEDIAPOSITION•  Engage consumers and build a community of Southwest brand loyalistsFINDINGS•  Strong following of loyal consumers•  They have endured some challenges in managing and implementing their strategyRECOMMENDATION•  Improve internal communication•  Integration between marketing and other organizational departments
  • 16. SWOT Posi%ves   Nega%ves     Strengths   Weaknesses   -­‐Low  cost   -­‐Execu%on  of  promo%ons     -­‐Strong  customer  service   -­‐Limited  flight  offerings  Internal   -­‐Point  to  point  offerings   -­‐Labor  Costs   -­‐No  bag  fees   -­‐Social  Media  Presence       Opportuni%es   Threats     -­‐Business/Government   -­‐Consumers  resistance  to   External   Accounts   higher  fares   -­‐BeJer  fuel  economy  jets   -­‐Fuel  Costs     -­‐Slowing  Global  Economy   -­‐Teleconferencing  
  • 17. FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS•  Focus on value over price•  Update website to mimic functionality of aggregators•  Facilitate better coordination between Marketing and other organizational departments