Easyjet’s 50% jump in pretax profit versus two profit warnings for Ryanair’s “acquired taste” CEO presents us with another example of brands that stay in touch and adapt to changing customers’ needs and those that don’t, choosing instead to believe their own PR and hubris.
We have argued that Ryanair has been one of the most aligned brands, as a no frills carrier it delivers low prices for people who apparently wanted just price. However as the economy has eased, Easyjet identified the fact we would like a little bit more than a hair shirt and computers that say no. We also don’t want to engage in pitch battle for a seat, especially if we are travelling on business. We want slightly softer brands and not the hard edge ones that promise us amazing prices and then does everything to screw money out of us at every opportunity.
So as consumers needs change, Ryanair has “stuck to its knitting” allowing their brand to become out of step with the mood of the moment. Result? Its gets less share of our wallets.
Brands need to be managed with a sense of grace and manners towards their customers, as we are the ones that allow them to exist, whatever a brand manager or owner might think. Ignore our changing moods and feelings or just carry on doing same old same old and no matter how successful it appears at any one moment we will be drifting away from you.
If ever there was an illustration for the continuous tracking of the brand relationship with key customer groups I am not sure I’ve seen it. The sad thing is that there will be many people enjoying the decline of the Ryanair brand as it showed nothing but contempt towards it customers whilst giving amazing value for money.
Michael O’Leary once said he had done more for European Union than EU, well he would do well to look a little more closely to home if he wants to get the wings back on his great brand. Listening to another Michael (Eisner of Disney fame) might help them start welding those wings back on - “a brand is a living entity and is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures’
The Ryanair/O’Leary response is become nicer to customers –well hopefully it is not too late. Can the leopard change its spots? He would do well to learn the M&S lesson – hubris combined with not listening to customer’s has resulted in millions of customers released into the market free from false loyalty to find better more pleasurable ways to get better products and services.