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Budget Vs Premium Airlines: Who are your customers?  

Starcount takes a look at the customers of budget and premium airlines to find out what motivates this group of high-flyers to travel either low-cost or with a bit more luxury.

Whether you aspire for the jet-set life or spend your lunch breaks scouring cheap flight sites looking for a quick sunny retreat, we all have our reasons for wanting to get away. 

Whenever the subject of holidaying abroad comes up in the office or over a coffee, the same question pops up, ‘Who are you flying with?’

As a nation, we seem obsessed with finding out who our friends and family have chosen to ferry them skywards. We tell them tales of our own experiences flying with that airline, both good and bad, about how we were stuck on the runway for over an hour or what tier we are in the loyalty scheme! 

The point is, we all have a preference about who we fly with, but that can be determined by several factors such as where you are going or who you are going with. A family resort trip or perhaps a romantic city break. 

Maybe you bought a pair of baggy trousers and an oversized rucksack to backpack around Thailand – all of these are going to play a factor in who you decide to fly with. 

Normally for customers, it comes down to a choice between two – budget or premium.

There are pros and cons to both, getting to The Bahamas as cheaply as possible sounds great if you are willing to compromise on home comforts, or you can pay more to get those comforts back, but the price might make you need to sit down for five minutes. 

Here at Starcount, we are experts in understanding customers and their motivations, so we decided to put some of our data scientists on the case to see if we could get a better understanding of who budget and premium airline customers are. 

The power of passions

You are what you love. That is what we believe. One way we find out more about your customers is looking at what they like, share and follow on social media, It gives us an indication of what they are passionate about and helps you understand more about them than just what they spend with you.

Our data is built on 19 million UK social media users which unlike survey data is not modelled out, and our analysis allows the data to cluster forming ‘passions’ and ‘mindsets’ of customers which helps us understand how they are motivated and what they love.

Our budget and premium flyers share some top ‘passions’ for obvious reasons, they all love holidays & travel, shopping and eating out – I mean don’t we all! But after that, we start to see two different customers emerging.

We start to see interests in coupons & saving money, fast food and celebrity gossip breaking out at the top for our budget flyers. While our premium customers are intrigued by entrepreneurship & start-ups, politics and general technology. 

Already there are clear distinctions between our budget and premium travellers. But which airlines are flying highest to appeal to them?

Top players

Unsurprisingly for customers in the budget section easyJet, Ryanair and Flybe come out as the top airlines for those looking for a cheap no thrills flight. While for the premium customer, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates find themselves the top airlines for customers looking to travel with a bit more luxury. 

However, if we look deeper and track the growth of these airlines, we can see that for our customers who identify as premium, there is a significant growth in airlines associated with low-cost travel. The likes of Lufthansa, Aer Lingus and Ryanair are all showing growth in engagement from premium customers. 

The role of the influencer 

We can learn a lot about customers from what influencers they follow, and the differences between who budget and premium flyers follow helps to paint a clearer picture. 

The top influencers for our budget customers are a combination of primetime TV personalities, with money-saving tipster Martin Lewis taking the top spot, and entrepreneurs who have found fame from their reality-business-focused talent shows. 

Our premium customers share the interest in entrepreneurs, but politicians have found a way to slither their way into the mix, commanding a high level of influence among this audience.

What is fascinating is the impact these influencers can have, with influencers for our budget customers having more than double the impact, compared to our premium customers. 

Last call

This dip into our insight tells us more about the differences and similarities to budget and premium customers than meets the eye. A customer flies budget because they do not have enough money, and another flies premium because they can afford it. Not the whole picture.  

Premium customers are showing a growing interest in the traditional budget airlines, a whole audience that the top budget brands have thought out of their grasp. While budget customers take heed of the advice from their social media gurus and can be influenced into a good deal on a more expensive airline. 

Understanding your customers is vital for every industry. Airlines need to take a step back and have a look at who their customers really are, so they can talk to them in a way that their words will have an impact. 

There are turbulent times ahead for the airline industry that could cause more than just a couple of cancellations! Customers are becoming ever more aware of their carbon footprint and the consequence their travel has on the planet. Airlines need to find a way to make up for their environmental impact or risk a potential decline in people using them to travel. 

Starcount is looking into the growing environmental trend in the UK and its effect on airlines, come back later this week to find out more about this significant audience threatening UK’s airlines. 

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