Jet Airways consolidates low cost Konnect and JetLite brands but increases brand confusion

Rishul Saraf and Devesh Agarwal

India’s largest domestic airline Jet Airways, has announced a unification of its two low cost brands JetLite and Jet Airways Konnect to be called JetKonnect from March 25, 2012.

  • As per the airline, a “gradual rebranding” of the JetKonnect brand will commence on March 25, manifesting itself on letterheads, the JetKonnect website, boarding passes, tickets, stationery.
  • Signages at all check-in and ticketing counters will have dual branding reflecting the existing Jet Airways and the new JetKonnect logos.
  • Ticket sale for JetKonnect flights will commence from March 20 2012, with travel validity from March 25, 2012 onwards
  • Effective March 26, 2012 guests to would be automatically redirected to the new, re-branded
  • Some JetKonnect flights will operate under the S2 code, while others will have flight numbers prefixed by the 9W code. 9W and S2 will also continue their existing Codeshare agreement.

This is definitely a step forward for Jet which has long battled brand dilution and confusion due to presence of multiple brands which frequently overlapped each other.

      One step forward, two steps back

      Without enlarging, is this a Jet Airways plane or a Konnect?

      Our special correspondent Rishul Saraf had proposed, in his earlier article, that Jet Airways should merge its two low cost brands to remove brand confusion.

      To eliminate the prevailing brand confusion in the Jet Airways setup, Jet has uplifted Konnect from a temporary sticker on mainline full service Jet Airways planes into a full fledged “JetKonnect” LCC brand, and merging the colour schemes of the JetLite brand (see picture of the new livery here.)

      Over the long term this will result in brand recall, but, Jet Airways appears to have taken one step in the right direction, and two steps backwards in the confusion department.

      Two airlines, one brand ….. confusion

      One has heard of one airline operating two brands, but for reasons unexplained, the JetKonnect brand will be operated under both the low cost JetLite airline code (S2) and the existing full service Jet Airways airline code 9W.

      Two airlines, one brand? How will the passenger differentiate the two?

      Unfortunately, there is no clarity from Jet Airways. The airline’s answer “we will put a small tag line showing Operated by JetKonnect”.

      This is already being done, which then begs the question, why this branding exercise?

      LCC to drag down mainline full service brand …….. what is Jet thinking?!?!

      If the confusion between the two existing LCC brands Konnect and JetLite isn’t enough, the crew on the new JetKonnect LCC flights will wear the same uniform as the mainline full service Jet Airways, and JetKonnect will offer the same business class cabin on certain routes where guests will receive identical services as on the mainline full service Jet Airways Club Premiere class.

      If you can imagine what the planners at Jet are/were thinking, please do post a comment, for we cannot. Talk about downgrading the mainline carrier?

      Who is a target customer of Jet for the premium cabin (previously called Konnect Select)? Low fare or premium buyer?

      As an Low Cost brand, JetKonnect cannot command the same fare as the mainline Jet Airways, even though it is the same identical cabin, cabin staff, and service offering. At the same time, by offering the same cabin at a lower fare in the LCC brand, the mainline Jet Airways passenger will come to expect the premium cabin for lesser fares, and then over time, will value it less. It is a lose-lose scenario for Jet.

      Two airline codes, three brands, complete confusion

      Imagine a passenger steps on-board a JetKonnect stickered aircraft, operated under the S2 code, served by a Jet Airways attired crew. How is a passenger supposed to absorb and differentiate the triple combination of airline code, aircraft, and crew attire?

      Step back, review, and revise.

      The consolidation of the two LCC brands within the Jet stable is desperately needed, and JetKonnect as a permanent brand is welcome. However, the manner in which Jet Airways has chosen to proceed with this brand merger appears to create more confusion instead of removing it.

      May be Jet should take a step back, re-think and revise some of its actions, and implement a plan with much more clarity.

      What are your thoughts? Post a comment.

      About Devesh Agarwal

      A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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