We recently talked about niche brands and how they needed time to establish trust and long term growth. Becoming a niche brand can be a result of a specific marketing strategy, or it can happen by accident. Sadly, many brands become niche players by accident.
For example, I don’t have any knowledge of actual business performance, but I would argue that AirAsia had a big vision of ‘Now everyone can fly’ which underpinned its reason for being and provided a broad platform for long term growth. Whereas Firefly was simply positioned as an airline that flew to short haul destinations that MH didn’t want to fly to. And SilkAir was based on the same premise for Singapore Airlines.
I suspect that ever since they were launched, both Firefly and SilkAir have searched for a viable market positioning. Both are niche players searching for their niche!
Low cost carriers? Not really.
Flying to unique destinations? Maybe some.
Unique inflight services or seating? No.
Better online booking and superior customer service? No.
So why would I fly Firefly or SilkAir rather than AirAsia or Tiger with their clear broad based marketing propositions of low cost, no frills, and high frequency schedules?
Firefly and SilkAir haven’t positioned themselves to be anything other than niche players. And they aren’t delivering a ‘job to be done’ which is unique or superior. In contrast, another niche player, Bangkok Airways, called itself ‘Asia’s Boutique Airline’. This clearly positioned the carrier as providing unique, specialist services which were not low cost. Like a ‘boutique hotel’.
Bangkok Airways has managed to achieve sometimes obscenely high fares by gaining monopolistic positions on various routes, but delivering excellent inflight full service even on the shortest haul flights.
It’s brand proposition is probably something like this: “We may charge you a fortune to fly with us, but at least we give you good food and drink served by charming, smiling inflight staff….and we get you to a place that is otherwise very hard to get to”. So Bangkok Airways deliberately positioned itself as a niche player, and then carved out a very profitable niche that it dominated.
Do you have a niche brand? Did you position it as niche brand deliberately, or did it happen by default?
If so, how are you going to adjust your vision and proposition to break out of the limitations the brand has created for itself?