Brand in decline – Qantas

I’ve been loyal to Qantas for a very long time. Initially because it was superior (certainly in the post Ansett environment) more recently because of irrational reasons and lack of choice. These days are now officially over. But rather than bore you with the number of brand fails I have had to endure, I’ll share with you the catalyst event which has now resulted in my decision.

Qantas regards itself as a full service airline. For these reasons I have been a loyal brand user – to the point where I have become a Gold Frequent Flyer. The bundle of benefits included features like high frequency of flights, safety record (although that is questionable now), lounge access at airports, on board service, on board entertainment, a global alliance flying scheme to name a few things.

When traveling on business I really like knowing I will get a meal when leaving directly from work, time is limited and it is one less thing I need to think about. It was good to know my 7pm flight two days ago included ‘Dinner‘ pre-flight as can be seen below. So there can be no disputing, what Qantas believe they are providing.

Unfortunately when dinner arrived – it didn’t quite meet my expectations.

In fact, I feel insulted by Qantas that they call this dinner. It’s plan rude. If you asked someone out for dinner – would you buy them a sandwich? If you had people over for dinner, would you give them a sandwich?

When you insult customers they eventually take their business elsewhere.

This decision to save less than $5 on a hot dinner has resulted in Qantas losing my $25,000 I spend on air tickets per year. As now I will fly Virgin Australia domestically (now full service with decent lounges) and Singapore Airlines when going overseas (who are now linked to Virgin in Frequent Flyer schemes).

Yes, by trying to save $5, Qantas have just lost $25,000 from a Gold frequent Flyer.

For me it comes down to brand promise. It isn’t that I want too much, but what I do want what the brand promises me. And when the brand attempts to deceive, or save cost against their promise – that is when I look to other providers.


Creating Brand Loyalty

Here’s a list of brands for which I am personally brand loyal with. And to the right of each brand I have a given a reason.

Brand & reason
Qantas Domestic:    They are the only full service domestic airline in Australia.

Ripcurl Wetsuits :   They are simply the best quality, and the warmest. I will never, ever switch as the cost of getting it wrong is $600+ mistake. I also love the brand history.

Collingwood FC:    I am a fan and I support the club, in this category performance wont create switching, but it does reduce my purchase frequency

iphone: I love it’s seamless funcationality and integrating so much, I find it hard to believe a better option will ever exist. I don’t even mind putting up with a few dropouts

Crumpler Bags: I love their design, and functionality, I also love the story of how they started and the fact the owners are from my local city.

Seth’s Blog: I know I’ll get a golden entry aroud once a week.

Twitter: It’s the only social network which suits my attitude & lifestyle. I like it’s brevity & immediacy.

Google Search: Works best. Would switch if better one came along. On occasion I now search on twitter for attitudinal & results based on timeliness.

Lavazza Coffee : Best tasting Roast & ground coffee after trying many others.


If we are fortunate enough to have a level of brand loyalty, then it’s equally important that we understand why we have it. In the case of Qantas, it’s more serendipitous than through providing a super product. Notice I’m only loyal with domestic travel, I’ll switch to Singapore or Cathay on international travel. Other brands like the Collingwood football club suffer from reduced revenue rather than losing market share. And Google, well they are only as good as their product where the switching costs are extremely low…. Once upon a time I was loyal Yahoo search…

The point for startups is simple. The reasons for brand loyalty are varied. Generating it is almost always related to having an awesome product. If our product isn’t awesome enough, then we need to ‘Awesomize it’. Only then will the brand story matter. Once we get loyalty our next job is to build a wall around it where switching costs are too high.