Time for a new tiger brand

Another post on Facebook complains about Tiger Airways. “Second flight cancelled, no info. Never flying Tiger again”. Within seconds a sense of comradely builds as other ‘friends’ join in to attack. “Missed flight due to check-in shambles. Worst airline ever, don’t fly Tiger”. “Stranded again. Thanks Tiger, first and last time!”.

In today’s social media world, people are empowered to spread the word and it happens instantly. This is, for many brands, the downside to social media.

This isn’t new – especially for Tiger. The low cost airline has more than its fair share of customer complaints, blogs and negative media. The issue is that’s all one way. I couldn’t find any real effort from Tiger to respond to customer concerns.

Any brand should be concerned about negative PR, especially when it happens frequently. However, it can also be an opportunity. Things do go wrong, but it’s how you respond that can be the difference between loosing your customers and actually building ambassadors for your brand.

Having Facebook sites, blogs and tracking comments on Twitter is yet another opportunity to get closer to customers, to show you understand and care. But you have to go beyond the ‘likes’ and build dialogue on the good and the bad. It also helps retain customers by quickly offering something to compensate when the brand disappoints. Smart brands are now also taking the next step with unexpected rewards and random acts of kindness.

Tiger don’t actively do any of this. They don’t even appear to even be listening. The perception is they don’t care and they don’t want to know.

If you follow the conversation online, the brand seems to have high dissatisfaction levels and virtually no loyalty. If so, the brand is in serious trouble. It’s not perceived as a brand of choice (even when considerably cheaper). This forces the brand to constantly attract new, unaware customers – and spend significantly more to do so.

Being budget is never easy but it has to be about more than price. Most budget airlines get this. One example is America’s Southwest Airlines. This is a powerful brand that has built a distinct and quirky personality that connects with its customers and works hard to deliver memorable experiences. Often cited as the world’s most successful and loved discount airline, Southwest boasts 1.4 million likes on their Facebook page, an innovative “nuts about Southwest” blog and no shortage of stories of positive experiences.

So what’s next for Tiger? The brand needs to be completely repositioned. With Virgin now moving more upmarket to compete with Qantas, the time could be right. However, there is a massive caveat on this – the brand needs to be built from the inside first. It doesn’t matter how sexy they look, what they call themselves or any gimmicks they create to get attention if they don’t have a solid foundation for the brand.

Tiger has to get the basics right and then look beyond ‘being cheap’. It needs to uncover its compelling truth, to unite its employees and truly, deeply connect with its audience. The new brand needs to build understanding and commitment amongst stakeholders who represent the brand. It must also actively listen and build dialogue with its customers and then constantly seek opportunities to delight. Ultimately, the aim is to inspire employees to consistently seek ways to deliver memorable and valued brand experiences. The result will be measurable improvements in the customer experience, organisational performance and the brand’s reputation.

Michael Hughes
Director of Brand Strategy

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  1. Thanks Michael, as a frequent domestic flyer in Australia I couldn’t agree more – for these guys they need to find their brand proposition beyond ‘cheap’. In this market budget prices are table stakes – the market needs another reason to select the Tiger brand, at at the moment they are only providing reasons to not select.

  2. Paul - The Kind Little Blogger

    For as long as Tiger Airways has existed I have defended them. They’re an easy target. The low-hanging fruit of the Australian aviation industry. Think back to Virgin’s early days, much was the same. But they managed to push passed it with a strong focus on customer service and their sex appeal. It seems that customers want somebody to pick on. And it’s usually the cheap “and nasty” guy.

    I have flown Tiger at least a dozen times. Had one delay of 20 minutes once, due to weather. I have never had a problem with them. Nor have a lot of people. But we hear only of those that have and rarely of those that haven’t. I think those that have had a good experience have a responsibility to set their friends right. It’s only fair, I think.

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