Saturday, October 25, 2008

Slugfest @ Indian domestic airlines : Kingfisher, Jet and Indigo fight it out


Soft drink brands are infamous for advertisements which focus on spoofing the rival brand's copy ( think Pepsi vs Coke, Mirinda vs Fanta, 7Up vs Sprite ) ... hence the term "Cola Wars". Understandably, with sugared water its difficult to create meaningful new USPs ... so this is probably the easiest way to ensure sustained recall and interest  in the target consumer's mind.

With increasing competition in the Indian domestic airline sector here are a couple of intersting "Cola War" type of ads I've noticed recently :

1) Kingfisher takes on Jet ( before they decided to work together for synergy savings earlier this month ) : Jet put up the first hoardings announcing changes in their branding graphics, crew uniforms, in flight entertainment etc. Within a few days Kingfisher had hoardings erected right above the Jet hoardings claiming that Jet's change was actually forced by Kingfisher's superior services.

2) Indigo takes on Kingfisher :  Kingfisher's brand tagline is "Fly the good times". Of course with the economy in doldrums, rising oil prices, high operating costs the times are not really good. Jet and Kingfisher decided to put their rivalry on the backburner and save some money by synergizing operating costs, laying off personnel,  rationalizing the routes / # of flights between city-pairs and jacking up airfares. 

Indigo one of the leading "low cost" domestic carriers, capitalizing on the situation announced that they continued to exceed consumer expectations in terms of service quality and pricing both in "good times and bad". Just to really rub it in they captioned the ad "Let the bad times roll" !!! 

Both these counter-ads, though confrontational are factually correct. Jet was forced to transform a number of their services in order to stay competitive post the launch of Kingfisher. Also with the price hikes across the domestic airlines Indigo continues to offer the best deals ... at least in the Mumbai-Kolkata sector ... I speak from personal experience coz I just bought Indigo tickets for our mini-vacation in Kolkata this November :-)


  1. would hertz & avis qualify ? avis claims / used to claim that they were no. 2 so they "tried harder" ( than Hertz )

  2. The other bitter slugfest that culminated in an "understanding" and "pooling of synergies" was Star Sports and ESPN in India. But, on the topic of air-travel, the misery in the air is a bonanza for surface transport. Volvo buses and trains must be packed beyond capacity after a brief 2-3 year interlude when the 2AC crowd seemed to be take to the skies. The monopoly train operators in India and, ironically, the US are benefitting by doing nothing at all.

  3. get your facts straight. probably you did not notice that oil prices are significantly lower now than the $150 per barrel of crude few months back.