Thanks to social media, influencer marketing is well and truly on the up. Influencers are used in all different segments of marketing, by a variety of companies – and now, thanks to millennials, airlines included.
You’ll see them promoting fashion labels, food brands, subscription boxes, tooth whitening kits, and much more – but airlines? You’re probably wondering how influencer marketing can benefit an industry that operates on the notion that customers purchase a ticket that will take them where they want to go, in the cheapest and easiest way possible. You might be thinking, surely customers would opt for strategic ease rather than being seen on a particular airline? Are folks actually going to pay more attention to an airline if they partner with an influencer?
The answer to the last question is a resounding yes. As we’ve seen in example after example, influencers can be a ‘make or break’ marketing tactic for any brand, and learning how to partner with them is a fantastic way to stand out from the crowd – or indeed, follow the trends.
Just as we consume more screen time, consumption of the majority of products has grown rapidly thanks to the millennial generation. If we look at the biggest country in the world – a country that luxury brands are finally tapping into as a goldmine market area – we can see that at the start of this millennium, only 4% of China’s urban population was considered to be in the middle class. Experts now predict that in less than three years, that figure will be a whopping 76%,which is over 550 million middle-class people in China. Domestic consumption is considered to be one of the most important factors in the economy of any western country, and as income rates grow in China – and indeed throughout the majority of Western millennial culture – surveys show that over 60% of people will spend more on travel.
We might be jumping to conclusions here, but it seems likely those countless Maldivian screensaver-esque images we scroll past every day on the gram, have something to do with everyone’s new nomadic tendencies. According to The Guardian, global airlines generated £30bn in profits in 2016, with total revenue rising to over £579bn, and that number is only projected to go up in the coming years. So, as travel becomes more of a status symbol, and as airlines attempt to reach the millennial market, influencer marketing has become that much more important.
The reasons for this are simple: modern customers and millennial adventurers expect luxury and an experience that puts them first – and will look great on their grid. They want the perks, customisation, impeccable client service, and an atmosphere of adventure throughout it all. As a general rule, consumers are now willing to pay a bit of extra money if it involves being treated like a VIP. Influencer marketing runs exactly parallel to these customer desires: it showcases airlines as glamorous and user-friendly, demonstrates authority, and makes travel exciting – in other words, it turns wanderlust into a reality, and a very desirable one at that.
Just as we see saturation in all areas of industry, there is an overflow in the number of airlines on the waiting to whisk you away to paradise, and that can be overwhelming to consumers. In using influencer marketing, airlines can help inspire authentic trust in those who might not be familiar with their company. As it stands right now, a reported 70% of millennial consumers report being influenced by the recommendations of their peers when they make buying decisions.
So, as it’s pretty easy to see in our earlier statistics, it’s not just trendy to be a jet-set, millennial diva… it’s actually airline economy gold dust: aviation is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, so it really is essential for airline companies to remain competitive and continue to build large and, perhaps more importantly, authentic and engaged audiences.
Influencer marketing for airlines cannot be overlooked: having a good social media personality in your corner as an airline will help you promote differentiation in the airline industry, because if there’s anything influencers are experts in, it’s unique expression. People follow influencers because they like what they see and their tastes align, so if most airlines offer essentially the same services (flights to and from various destinations), consumers are for more likely to follow their aspirations and go with the one that – according to their favourite influencer – offers differentiation and the development of a positive brand identity.
It really is as simple as that: once again, influencer marketing has proven to be not just an intelligent, but actively essential way of promoting a positive corporate identity to the millennial/gen X/gen Z/future generation, and it seems that right now the sky’s the limit for the aviation industry.