Flying High: What Keeps Indigo Going

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 5465 , Published on 20 May 2012

IndiGo has consistently maintained its image as a friendly, hip airline. Everything starting from its logo to its banner advertisements tells us something that makes us smile. The vehicles it uses to carry luggage are labelled “CarGo”, in sync with the name “IndiGo”. The air-sickness bag says “Get Well Soon”.

Instead of an in-flight magazine, it has a shopping catalogue with interesting IndiGo branded curios. The picture on the left shows a USB drive with a disclaimer: “This item can   cause jealousy”! IndiGo’s on-your-face communication has effectively broken clutter and grabbed the attention of all. In today’s turbulent airline industry this is perhaps what has kept IndiGo soaring high.

The airlines industry of India has been in the limelight for quite some time now – though for the wrong reasons. Rising fuel prices and interests have caused most airlines to run into deep financial trouble. The industry has accumulated losses of nearly Rs 15,000 crore in 2010-11. Leading the pack is the national carrier Air India, followed by private sector Kingfisher Airlines. The only airline that has managed to make profits during these tough times is IndiGo. It has managed to increase its market share to almost 20%, securing the position of the largest low-cost airline in India. Owned by InterGlobe Aviation Pvt. Ltd, in fact, IndiGo has announced a buy order for 180 aircraft worth $15.6 billion from the European manufacturer Airbus.

Figure 1: Source DGCA Report

So what is it that IndiGo does to keep its books green? Rigorous cost control in the form of paid-for meals, high aircraft utilization and tightly framed maintenance contracts have been some methods. However, what has really caught the eye of customers is its branding. IndiGo is a brand that talks – to its crew members and passengers alike.

In its communication about new flights and services, IndiGo has been very imaginative. Advertisements literally grab eyeballs. The benefit of extra leg-room was effectively conveyed through the imagery of the comfort a long-legged supermodel would enjoy.

New flights to smaller destinations were promoted through witty print-ads. IndiGo’s regional advertising was the feather on the cap.

Late last year, IndiGo launched a fresh campaign to communicate its new international operations. The TV Commercial is like a runway musical, set in the Broadway Style. The lines “Our service is so popular, we're flying international” and “"we will remind ourselves for one more time with each and every single flight, we're here to be the model of a modern global airline" truly captures the coolness quotient of the airline.

At a time when the airline industry has been facing a severe shortage of pilots and crew, IndiGo has managed to attract applicants through sheer humor. One of its advertisements for hiring pilots looked like this:

IndiGo has also very successfully positioned its cabin-crew profile by associating a glamour quotient with it. Advertisements seeking new crew members communicate the message that the crew are not merely plain air-hostesses, but are as glamorous as supermodels. This creates an aspirational value in the minds of job applicants. The “Miss IndiGo” badges sported by the air-hostesses assure passengers time and again that the crew serving them is indeed special.

IndiGo’s has not spared its rivals.  Capitalizing on Kingfisher’s financial distress it announced that it continued to exceed consumer expectations in terms of service quality and pricing both in "good times and bad".  The cheeky advertisement was captioned “Let the bad times roll”, which was a direct attack on Kingfisher airlines and its tagline “Fly the Good Times”.

This article has been authored by Rubayet Chakraborty & Ahana Chakraborty from NITIE.



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