Air France is launching a new airline named JOON, which has been designed to appeal to young, working Millennials whose “lifestyles revolve around digital technology”. The airline will launch in autumn 2017 with medium-haul flights departing from Paris Charles de Gaulle. Longer route flights are expected to follow by Summer 2018. The airline will offer travellers an “innovative and offbeat” experience, with crew wearing more relaxed uniforms comprising of polo shirts, ankle skimming trousers, white trainers and slouchy blazers. Here, Mintel analysts discuss why Air France is targeting Millennials, and whether a similar concept could be successful in the UK.

Catherine Cottney, Trends Manager Europe CC (1)

“It makes sense for Air France to target this demographic specifically, especially when considering how large the Millennial cohort is in the country. According to Mintel’s report Baby Boomers versus Millennials 2017, 23.9% of France’s population is made up of Millennials aged 20-39. This move also reflects a growing desire for airlines to offer a more informal environment on board in order to set travellers’ minds at ease, as well as acts as a point of differentiation from other carriers. Air France has taken steps in this direction before: in 2015, it released an in-flight safety video that was more fun and fashionable than fear-inducing or frightening. Brands have long diversified to attract spending from new demographics and Millennials have proved an attractive proposition over the past decade or so. Other examples include Radisson, which has announced plans to open its first four-star Radisson Red hotel in Africa with a focus on local culture and authentic experiences targeting Millennials, and Asda, which has become the UK’s first major retailer to stock halal cosmetics, with a range aimed at Muslim Millennials. More brands would do well to take note of what different generations are looking for and open up a line of dialogue with representatives from these cohorts to make sure they get the tone and positioning right.”

 

fmcgivneyFergal McGivney, Travel and Technology Analyst

JOON is an interesting concept, but it’s hard to say whether a similar product offering could work for UK-based airlines. The press release states that it will “not be a low-cost airline”. This could be an issue, because air travel is a highly commoditized product, where price is paramount. Broadly speaking, style and service take a back seat to price when it comes to air travel. The best example is low-cost carrier Ryanair. It regularly receives negative press about its service, yet despite this, it is Europe’s largest airline in terms of passenger numbers, carrying some 120 million customers in the financial year to 31 March 2017. This is more than easyJet and British Airways combined. However, that’s not to say that JOON will not appeal to some. Ryanair’s business model is based on no-frills service, low-cost base fares and high volume sales. If JOON’s service offering is innovative and unique enough, it could encourage the more affluent Millennial to fly with them. It could be especially attractive for business travelers, who tend to fall into the 25-34 age group, according to Mintel’s Business Traveler UK 2017 report.

There is even some evidence, however, to suggest that air travel is becoming less commoditized. Many are willing to trade up to make the flight experience a bit more comfortable, especially when flying long-haul. Mintel’s upcoming report on the UK airline industry highlights that 68% of passengers say it’s worth paying a little bit extra to make a long-haul flight more comfortable, rising to 73% for 25-34s. However, much of this willingness to trade up for onboard services will be driven by low fares. Unbundling fares, offering low base prices, and allowing passengers to customise their flight with paid-for ancillary services, are more likely to attract younger consumers than higher-fare full-service offerings. In developing a product offering like JOON, airlines must remember that for most Millennials, air travel is a means to an end. Younger consumers love to travel, and want to do as often as they can. This means finding the lowest fares in order to to fit in as many holidays as they can throughout the year.

 

Catherine Cottney, Trends Manager Europe at Mintel, works at the forefront of detecting trends, innovations and consumer behaviour from across the globe and manages a team of contributors in the Asia-Pacific region. She has provided analysis on topical issues and events from a Trends perspective for a number of media outlets and publications including BBC Radio 4ʼs Today programme, the Financial Times and Women & Home.

Fergal McGivney is a Technology & Travel Analyst at Mintel, having previously worked for a market research company focusing on a diverse range of industries including travel, technology and media.

 

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