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Southwest Pulls Away From Airline Rivals In Key Metrics

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Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:44
Ted Marzilli

As consumers find tighter seating and higher fares despite lower gasoline prices, Southwest Airlines is the best positioned domestic airline in consumer value perception and purchase consideration among leisure travelers.

53% of consumers who have gone on at least one leisure trip this past year would consider purchasing a ticket from Southwest next time they are in the market. The airline with the second greatest purchase consideration, Delta, comes in at 43%, while American and United score at 36% and 35% respectively.

Even though Southwest lost a little of its value perception since last year, it still has more than double the Value score of the nearest competitor, JetBlue. Value perception is measured on a range from -100 to 100, with zero being neutral: Southwest lost four points since the same time in 2013, it still retains a 40 Value score, compared to JetBlue at 17.

Southwest also leads rivals in ad awareness, with 39% of leisure travelers recalling one of their ads over the past two weeks. The airline did a top-to-bottom brand and marketing overhaul this past fall to commemorate its expansion into major hubs, and for the first time, international cities.

Out of the 11 domestic airlines YouGov BrandIndex examined, five of them had negative value scores, with Spirit and United coming in lowest at -6. Even though Spirit often promotes fares cheaper than its competitors, it is well known for tacking on higher fees from everything from bringing carry-on luggage to charging more add-on fees for the forthcoming winter holiday season.

Since one year ago, Delta has made the greatest strides in both value perception (+5 points) and purchase consideration (+6 percentage points) with leisure travelers, while American, United and US Airways have improved modestly in purchase consideration.

However, several airlines have shaved some points from both metrics, with Air Tran losing the most on both fronts, with 3 points on value and 4 percentage points on purchase consideration. YouGov BrandIndex shows a group of airlines which range closely to each other with weak value and purchase consideration scores, including Alaska Air, Virgin America, Air Tran, Frontier and Spirit Airlines.

Domestic airlines recently came in the middle of the pack in YouGov BrandIndex’s first annual Brand Category Satisfaction rankings, coming just behind grocery store chains and financial investment advisors, and ahead of online streaming music sites and life insurance companies.

YouGov BrandIndex measured the 11 major domestic airlines with its value, purchase consideration and ad awareness scores. All respondents were adults 18 and over who have gone on a leisure air trip at least once in the past 12 months.

Domestic Airlines: Fliers with more than one domestic trip in the last year
Domestic Airlines: Fliers with more than one domestic trip in the last year
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