Brand Awareness in the Digital Age – How Qantas Leveraged Data to Save its Brand

Brendan Lidster, the Operations Manager of Reload Media in Asia-Pacific, shuttles back and forth between Australia and the Philippines twice a month. When asked what airlines he considers when purchasing his air transportation, his immediate answer was “Qantas”.

Brendan is just one of the countless Australians who hold Qantas as their top-of-mind air transportation provider. This is interesting when you consider that in 2014 the airline went through some challenging times, facing profit loss and industrial action among other things. These challenges impacted consumer perceptions of the brand significantly.

So how did Qantas overcome these challenges and turn consumer perceptions back around?

The Dark Days

Almost three years ago, the airline carrier reported its biggest ever annual loss at $2.8 billion AU. The airline cited poor consumer spending, rising fuel cost, and tough competition internationally and domestically, as some of the factors that contributed to its challenging financial position. At that time, Qantas dealt with a fair amount of negative publicity and the question of whether it would survive the crisis was on the minds of many people.

The Winning Approach

Qantas needed to reconnect with its target market. Once the airline began to leverage the data it was holding onto from their website and Frequent Flyers feedback among others, it was able to draw on customer insights to identify marketing opportunities. Qantas compiled insights from 30 years of data history, around:

  • Customer flying behavior;
  • Frequent flyer profiles;
  • Customer NPS and feedback; and
  • Web and social media interactions.

Once Qantas had the foundations for market segmentation in place the ‘Feels like Home’ campaign was developed and launched in 2014, with follow up campaigns in 2015 and 2017. The videos featured real Qantas customers and employees and reached over 20 million people across the world. Moreover, based on House of Brand’s January to March 2017 Brand Tracking Research, 75% of Australians felt more positive about the brand after seeing the videos, while 59% of Australians were encouraged to fly with Qantas.

When we fast forward three years and look at Qantas now, it looks completely different.

Qantas had been busy repositioning its brand, with a focus on improving the customer experience. It seems that Qantas’ efforts have paid off, as Qantas now has the highest level of brand trust compared to other major competitors in Australia (based on the Corporate Trust Survey conducted by Actuity). Qantas’ Investor Day Report, which was presented in May 2017, revealed that Qantas is focused on positioning itself as a well-known and respected, transparent and honest airline, known for putting customers before profits and providing quality service.

Recipe for Success

“Setting up the right content, technology and channel execution on top ultimately to deliver business change is what is key to success.” – Stephanie Tully, CMO, Qantas

So, what did Qantas do to get out of its’ ‘dark days‘? To begin repairing the brand and improving customers’ perceptions and experiences, Qantas made investments in leveraging its extensive data warehouses, its people, its brand, and digital technology.

Having been around for almost 100 years, Qantas was sitting on a mountain of data that It wasn’t doing much with. Qantas used this data to inform and validate decisions in marketing and other areas of the business. The airline utilised a combination of digital and offline tools and methods to improve customer service and brand perceptions, focused on strengthening consumer trust in the brand.

Qantas’ Marketing Chief, Stephanie Tully, said that balancing these have been essential to achieving positive outcomes from the airline’s improvement initiatives.

Key Takeaways

Qantas employed a holistic approach to improving its brand perception, ultimately improving its overall business performance. Based on customer data that Qantas has collected, it tailored its awareness campaign to appeal to its target market and utilised digital channels and tools to reach them.

Wouldn’t it be great if we were all able to replicate the success of Qantas? But where does one even start? Here are some hot tips to help you get started.

  • Know your Target Market – Knowing your target market will enable you to understand who they are (demographics and psychographics) and better understand how to appeal to them.
  • Map the Customer Journey – This will enable you to identify what your target market is feeling, needing and thinking, and what they are doing at each stage of the path to purchase. It also helps you identify the possible touch points or channels to reach them at each stage of the purchase journey. You can also identify where the most marketing support is needed to help guide them down the sales funnel.
  • Develop a Strategy – With information on hand, you can now develop an approach for reaching your target market. Start by selecting the marketing channels and tactics that would most likely appeal to your target market.
  • Implement Your Plan – Execute the activities as per the strategy and begin driving meaningful action (website traffic, sales, sign-ups, etc.).
  • Monitor and Measure – To gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, regularly collect and analyse data, taking note of trends to uncover insights. Begin setting up monthly reports that identify key metrics that will help you guide future efforts to continually generate success.
  • Use data to inform decisions – Use the insights uncovered from your activities to guide your decision-making.