Cathay Pacific: Merges Marco Polo and Air Miles to form premium travel lifestyle brand ‘Cathay’
Airlines these days are way more than just companies that fly you. Qantas, for example, pre-pandemic earned more profit from its frequent flyer scheme than it did from flying internationally.
Yesterday Cathay Pacific which has been battered by the restrictions of the pandemic, not to mention the regulatory attack on the freedoms of Hong Kong residents, announced a new branding initiative.
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Cathay Pacific has already simplified its airline brands by wrapping its previous domestic fleet ‘Dragon Air’ back into the main brand. It’s now doing something with its other frequent flyer brands including its separate but associated loyalty program – the Marco Polo Club, and a frequent flyer points processing brand, Asia Miles. I’ve always though these last two loyalty brands are a little confusing, while some attributes have offered advantages (using points in Asia Miles to book Qantas flights using American Express points).
Part of this is to do with changing orthodoxy in marketing which now recognises the power of a single brand rather than the differentiation that multiple brands can offer. Cynics would say that the multiple brand strategy favoured the income streams of advertising, design and brand agencies, but you wouldn’t hear that directly out of my lips!
Wrapping all those brands as ‘Cathay’
Cathay Pacific is going to wrap all those brands together for marketing purposes.
“Cathay” brings together Cathay Pacific, Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles all in one place, simplifying the way our customers interact with us, including how they earn status and use miles.Media Release, Cathay Pacific
Of course details are light, and will be rolled out over the coming months. But, of course they have release a promo video!
I have so had my ‘life elevated ‘after watching that.
Credit Card – first cab off the rank
Next year, as the first major initiative under this new ‘brand’ will be a co-branded credit card for Hong Kong residents, followed by ‘a refreshed customer relationship programme in the first half of 2022.’
Initially, the new combined brand ‘Cathay’ will be just a Hong Kong thing, with ‘Cathay Pacific’ remaining the international brand. Presumably, the single brand will eventually be rolled out across the world, but I suppose they have an ‘out’ in case testing or reality doesn’t support that.
Travel lifestyle space
Cathay’s Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang sees this as based on the original brand’s history:
“Our ability to enter the travel lifestyle space and the success of this strategy is built upon the enduring strength, trust and respect that Cathay Pacific has established over 75 years of accomplishments, and the hard work and dedication of our people around the world.”Augustus Tang, Cathay’s Chief Executive Officer
With the future return of travel to pre- pandemic intensity, grabbing a piece of this ‘lifestyle’ market is important, as a way of diversifying the brands income sources, and as a recovery from the devistation to the balance sheet of COVID-19.
I have a finite amount of patience when it comes to this kind of branding puffery. However, wrapping all this activity up in one brand is sensible.
Interesting factoid, ‘Cathay’ was the name used by medieval Europeans for China.