Marketing Medicine: Is There A Market For Fastjet?
SA asks: Is Fastjet really going to happen and how will they compete with Kenya Airways? Fundamentally, is there a market for them?
I read the news the same as you, and from what I can tell Fastjet will indeed soon launch a low cost airline in Africa. Is there a market? I think the answer has to be a resounding yes. We are at a stage in the development of our regional economy where the old monopolies and oligopolies are about to face stiffer competition. I’ve also spoken to many Kenyans since we heard the Fastjet news.
The reaction has been wholly positive, and ranges from ‘ Now perhaps I will have the chance to fly before I die’ to ‘ Competition, bring it on!’ But airlines face a big challenge. It’s quite evident to marketers who study the global airline market. It is, quite simply, one of the least differentiated segments of commercial activity in the world. Most airlines end up being a pale reflection of the national image from their country of origin.
And, as in other weak categories, their marketing programmes tend to follow the herd.By contrast low cost airlines have often enjoyed good profits. The Irish Ryanair was one of the first airlines to announce strong results in the wake of the global crash. And, as Fastjet is a venture of EasyJet, these guys will have a proven low cost business model.
But to overcome the category weakness, the marketers of FastJet will need to deliver on three consumer requirements: Firstly a very clear brand promise – something a passenger can remember as a single sentence. Secondly a staff culture which delivers that promise with fervour.
There cannot be any ‘off days’ when the entertainment system goes ‘phut’, or the chicken meal choice runs out, leaving rows 20-68 with beef. And thirdly, a very easy to use booking interface. Whether by phone, through agents, online or in its own retail outlets. The most famous airline brand 35 years ago was Singapore Airlines.
At a time when western travellers weren’t too sure about flying on airlines run by Asians, the ‘Singapore Girl ‘campaign gave them a strong service promise to think about. It was a credible promise too, because of the heritage of service in the Orient, and because Singapore made absolutely sure that their cabin crew could deliver.
Since then it has become harder and harder to tell which airline you are flying on, once you are on board. Cabin interiors are pretty samey, the food comes from one or two suppliers at each airport and the only difference is the budget per head the airline is prepared to lavish upon us. Even the design of crew uniforms seems to be driven by a wish to make them wear cuts and colours that their mums would never have let them wear in public!
J asks: Please advice me on how I can get my few reggae theme nights that I host for different clubs here in Nairobi and also Nakuru. I wish to expand my business and own my equipment (sound) so far it is not doing bad but I need to improve on the marketing.
J, small entrepreneurial businesses like yours are making a big difference to our economy. Now’s the time, as you say, to improve on the marketing. Think about it like this. You have friends and supporters who like your music and encourage you to host events. Your marketing objective should be to grow that group, and encourage them to create more positive word of mouth about what you are doing. Then, when you announce a theme night, you will attract a bigger audience.
Every time you perform, collect information on the people at the venue. Ask for mobile numbers and gmail addresses. Tell them it’s so you can tell them what’s coming up, so they don’t miss out. Maybe get some pretty girls and cute guys to do that on your behalf! Then set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and set up sms group messaging on your phone. The first two cost nothing. The third will be an investment.
Use FB and Twitter to chat to your public, tell them what you have planned. Set up a discussion on reggae and ask what they like. Use SMS to publicise your next gig, and create immediacy. Try it and let me know how it goes. Chris Harrison is a marketing and advertising practitioner of 30 years’ standing. From Nairobi, he leads a network of 13 Ad Agencies across Sub Saharan Africa. He’s ready to prescribe answers to your marketing questions, and you can consult him on
Twitter @harrisoncj or at www.chrisharrison.biz