Top 10 airline brands for 2012


Skytrax, the UK based research company that specialises in research for commercial airlines, has just announced the winners of the world airline award for 2012.

Skytrax parent company, Inflight Research Services work has been used by the UK government to determine the UK government policies on air transport.

The Skytrax Awards are one of the benchmarking tools for the air industry. They measure passengers’ satisfaction levels by surveying passengers in all cabin classes.

The award is announced after a 10 month telephone survey with 18 million airline customers from 100 countries. That’s right, 18 million airline customers from 100 countries. This must be one of the largest surveys ever attempted.

That’s 1.8 million participants a month or based on a 20 day working month, its 90,000 calls per day which equates to, assuming an 8 hour day, 11,250 calls an hour! Many of which are international, in different languages and probably, if they use my carrier, many of the calls cut off half way through the conversation.

I’ve managed some large brand audits that required a lot of calls but not 18 million in 10 months! So Skytrax should be commended for managing such a logistical nightmare. But I digress.

As I mentioned, the survey takes 10 months and covers 200 airlines, both domestic and large international airlines. The survey measures standards across 38 key performance indicators of airline front line product and services.

The study focuses on customer satisfaction related to experiences right across all touch points including check-in, boarding, onboard seat comfort, cabin cleanliness, food, beverages, in-flight entertainment and staff service.

According to the World Airline Awards website, product and Service factors ranked by customers
in the survey included the following elements:

GROUND/AIRPORT
Standard of Airline web site
Online Booking service
Online check-in services
Airport Ticket Counters
Waiting times at Check-in
Quality of Check-in service
Self Check-in options
Boarding Procedures
Pre-boarding for families
Friendliness of Ground staff
Efficiency of Ground Staff
Transfer services
Arrival services
Baggage Delivery
Handling Delays

ONBOARD: PRODUCT
Cabin Seat comfort
Cabin Cleanliness
Toilet Cleanliness
Cabin Lighting / Ambience
Cabin Temperatures
Cabin Comfort amenities
Reading Materials
Airline magazine
Inflight Entertainment standards
Audio/Movie programming
Audio Video on demand (AVOD) options
Quality of Meals
Quantity of Food served
Meal Choices
Selection of Drinks/Pay bar formats

ONBOARD: STAFF SERVICE
Assistance during Boarding
Friendliness of Staff
Service Attentiveness/Efficiency
Consistency of Service across different flights
Staff Language skills
Meal service efficiency
Availability thru Flight/Cabin presence
PA announcements
Assisting families with children
Problem solving Skills
General Staff Attitudes
Staff Grooming

This is an enourmously complex project and it doesn’t end there. Follow up research includes back up interviews and the data is weighted to ‘provide nomination equity when evaluating airlines of different size.’

Anyway after all that, here is the list of the top 10 airlines for 2012

The World’s Best Airlines 2012

1. Qatar Airways
2. Asiana Airlines
3. Singapore Airlines
4. Cathay Pacific Airways
5. ANA All Nippon Airways
6. Etihad Airways
7. Turkish Airlines
8. Emirates
9. Thai Airways
10. Malaysia Airlines

It is interesting to note that 6 of the top ten are Asian brands and the other 4 are Middle Eastern Brands.

Looking back over the last 10 years, the list has always been dominated by Asian and Middle Eastern brands. With the exception of 2006 When British Airways came first, no European Airline has ever appeared in the top 3.

The top 1,000 brands in Asia – so what!


Following the completion of a research project carried out in conjunction with TNS, the Asia Pacific edition of the globally respected marketing magazine, Campaign Asia has named Sony as the top brand in Asia.

According to the study the top 4 positions all went to power house North Asian brands – Sony retained its position at number one followed by Samsung, Panasonic and LG with Canon at five. In fact the top 5 were unchanged from 2010.

At six is Apple, HP at seven, Google at eight and Nestle at nine with Nike at ten.

Facebook was the top social networking site at number 17 whilst Twitter leapt from 123 to sixtieth.

HTC, whose stock has tripled in the last year and is now Asia’s second largest maker of smart phones leapt from 532 to 100.

Interestingly no Chinese brands made the top 100 and only one Indian brand (Amul) managed to do so.

Amul, the largest food products business in India and the maker of ‘the big daddy’ of butters and the number one ice cream in India, was the best performing non-Japan or Korea brand, coming in at number 89.

At 123, Louis Vuitton was the highest luxury brand and surprisingly luxury brands fared poorly. Despite listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange recently, luxury brand Prada came in at a disappointing 348th, only two places above CIMB and down from 252.

Although Maggi (22nd) place and Tesco (96th) will be familiar to Malaysians, the top Malaysian brand is Marigold at 131, down from 129. Other Malaysian brands include Malaysia Airlines at 163, Maybank at 172 and F&N at 238. Old Town coffee also deserves a mention at 245, coming in almost 40 places above Maxis at 284. Celcom, Maxis main competitor was further down at 395.

Sticking with Malaysian brands, Boh tea was down at 417, Firefly, a budget airline was at 462, up from 518.

The highest new entry was Hankook tyres of Korea at 246. The highest new entry Malaysian brand was Life, a sauces/condiment maker at 718 followed by Kimball, another sauce/condiment maker at 825. Surprisingly Proton, the Malaysian national car was also a new entry at 916.

The survey was carried out in ten Asian markets: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. Ages of the respondents were from 15 to 64 and approximately 300 respondents from each country were surveyed.

Participants were asked only two questions:

“When you think of the following (product or service) category, which is the best brand that comes to your mind? By best, we mean the one that you trust the most or the one that has the best reputation in the (product or service) category.”

“Apart from the best brand you entered, which brand do you consider to be the second best brand in the (product or service) category?”

14 major product and service categories were covered in the survey:
Alcohol and tobacco
Financial services
Automotive
Retail
Restaurants
Food
Beverages
Consumer electronics
Computer hardware
Computer software
Logistics
Media
Telecommunications
Travel and leisure
Household
Personal care.

In addition to these major categories, a further 72 sub-categories were included!

The final rankings were determined based on the total number of mentions each brand received across all categories and countries.

Then the data was weighted on two levels: the first to reflect the population composition within the markets covered, and the second to reflect the competitiveness of the categories included in the study.

Now I don’t know about you guys but if there is one thing I have learnt over the years it is that markets such as Malaysia and Japan or Thailand and India have very little in common, especially when it comes to food, alcohol (60% of the Malaysian market is Muslim and therefore alcohol is forbidden) and other culture specific products.

Furthermore, I don’t know how they included all the categories and sub categories but I can only assume the answers were aided. Nevertheless, imagine a questionnaire that lists 14 potential answers and then a further 72 options to those answers! How accurate are the responses going to be?

I also think that the sample size and the demographic – only 300 participants per country and a massive demographic of 15 – 64 is simply too big to provide results that are actionable or relevant.

And we don’t know the gender of the participants yet gender will be crucial in many of the listed categories and in how we communicate with prospects, with what content and across what platforms.

And looking at the brands, someone in India is not going to name Proton as the best (another thought, define best?) automotive brand because the Malaysian national automotive brand has yet to go on sale in India.

Frankly, I don’t really understand what is the point of this survey and what it means? How is it relevant to a consumer or company in Malaysia when it lists brands not available in the country? How can a company leverage its position? What must a company do to move up the list, perhaps to the top? How relevant is the ranking?

If the survey must be done, it would be better if it were country specific and related to each category alone. Rather than asking two (aided) questions, it would make sense to develop questions based on the product needs in that country. Questions will also need to be developed based on the category.

And instead of looking at traditional approaches that rely on demographics, in the social economy, it would be better to work with social media communities. Results could then be correlated and geographic comparisons made although they still won’t offer actionable data to the brands.

What do you think?