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11/08/2009 – Can An Airline Build Brand Loyalty Through Being Nice To Kids? Yes!
This post is less about the business of how airlines perform targeted marketing and more about how an airline is covering its bases to start their branding young.
Years ago when I was a kid, airlines gave us ‘little flyers’ wings and playing cards. Delta Air Lines used to hand out little white plastic L-1011 planes. The planes had “Delta Air Lines” on the wings in blue, eventually the words “Delta Air Lines” were embossed into the plastic…and then the planes and the wings went away.
Fast-forward to many years later and witness that virtually no airlines cater to kids any longer. From childhood through late 2006 my primary airline of choice was Delta Air Lines, in just the last two years they were my primary airline I flew just over 400,000 miles with Delta. Subconsciously maybe I was drawn to Delta because of my collection of little white L-1011s and wings.
Back in 2003 my daughter Lauren received a backpack and sunglasses from Virgin Atlantic. Her brother Max now uses the backpack and wears the sunglasses. My kids can associate the sunglasses with a toy Virgin Atlantic plane used by their baby brother, Bubba, and know the glasses came from the airline.
Over the past few years my kids have racked up some items from Southwest Airlines. For the past year one of my son Max has slept with an inflatable Southwest Airlines’ 737 hanging over his bed. Max has also been using an old orange Southwest Airlines lunch box for pre-school.
As Max heads off to Kindergarten in a few weeks I commented to the folks at Southwest Airline that he was upset he couldn’t take his tattered Southwest lunch box to kindergarten. Most airlines would shrug such a comment off, heck most airlines would have never handed out lunch boxes as prizes during a “your flight is late trivia contest,” but what Southwest Airlines did was not only nice, but will help cement a young travellers loyalty to their airline.
The morning after I commented on Max being upset by not being able to bring his Southwest Airlines lunch box to kindergarten a FedEx package arrived for him and his brother. What was in the FedEx? Two metal lunch boxes from Southwest Airlines.
I am sure Southwest Airline’s emerging media team, specifically Christi Day who is the airlines’ “Twitter Voice,” was just being a genuinely nice person (and by all accounts she is), but her actions also set into motion the furthering of one little boys association with Southwest Airlines, the planes, the brand and why he’s excited when he sees them fly overhead.
Airlines obviously need to cater to their business travellers and high yield passengers, however catering to kids and making kids happy should not be overlooked. Delta’s little toy planes from my trips on them as a kid likely caused me to rack up more than 400,000 miles in just two years.
Below are a few photos of Max & Bubba’s package from Southwest Airlines and Max ripping into the box to pull out his new lunch box.