AirMiles Avios – Consignia all over again

Rosie Baker is Marketing Week’s specialist on sustainability and retail.

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What is AirMiles thinking? The decision to rebrand with the new name Avios appears to be a lesson in how to give loyal customers a slap in the face and erase any resonance customers had with the brand.

Early feedback, on the Marketing Week site, seems to be overwhelmingly negative.

Comments like:

  • “Absolutely hopping mad about this. Makes it such a poor deal compared to current terms”,
  • “I think it may be time to cash out my air miles before they become useless”
  • “Looks much less attractive … makes the whole thing a pretty good waste of time”

don’t inspire confidence in the programme’s ability to engage with consumers under the new brand.

AirMiles is one of the oldest loyalty points schemes there is, and while nostalgia and heritage alone aren’t reasons to keep a brand, the resonance it has with consumers is huge.

Replacing it with a meaningless brand name, and a scheme that appears to have fewer benefits, is a ludicrous step for a brand to take. And the communications sent out to customers doesn’t seem to be adequately explaining the change in a way that is relevant to consumers.

Have brands learned nothing from Royal Mail’s Consignia debacle? Or even Aviva’s successful rebrand from Norwich Union?

Royal Mail’s failed attempt to rebrand to the utterly meaningless moniker Consignia didn’t last long before the company saw sense and revert to the trusty old Royal Mail.

Aviva, however, managed to successfully rebrand the 200 year old insurance company Norwich Union in such a way that within a few months of the name change, recognition of the brand was boosted brand awareness was up to 80%.

All AirMiles has succeeded in doing is alienating existing loyal customers.

Before, it had a point of difference, but now it ahs been described as being the same  as BA and BMI’s points programme and pushing customers towards Virgin’s points deal.

Could there be an embarrassing climb down on the horizon?

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