Brand health scores suggest Thomson’s reported rebrand to TUI could be a risk

With Thomson set to be rebranded to its German parent TUI, the latest brand tracking data suggests TUI might be wise to persist with the UK package holiday provider’s current branding.

The Thomson brand will remain for up to two years in the UK market before being rebranded to TUI

On Wednesday at a half-year results briefing, the TUI Group, will announce plans to roll out the TUI brand, it already trades under in Germany, across its European business.

Over the next three years, the TUI brand is also expected to fully replace First Choice Holidays, Marmara in France, Arke in the Netherlands and the group’s five airlines – Thomson Airways, TUIfly, TUIfly Noridc, Jetairfly and Arkefly, according to The Times.

TUI, which is based in Hanover and listed in London, is expected to report underlying losses of €306m in its first half results, a 12% improvement year-on-year, with the company-wide rebranding a bid to drive efficiencies.

However, any decision to wipe out Thomson, which ranks 10th on the UK’s 55 biggest travel agents and above fierce rival Thomas Cook, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex, would come at a time of positive growth for the brand.

Over the last six months, its brand index score, which combines consumer’ perception of quality, value, satisfaction, reputation and whether an individual would recommend a brand, has risen 3.5 percentage points to a total score of 13.2.

For the same period, Thomson’s brand buzz score, which weighs up the positive and negative perceptions among consumers, has significantly climbed 3.5 percentage points to 4.6.

It’s a similar story for holiday provider First Choice. Although it is nine places (19th) below Thomson on YouGov’s BrandIndex ratings, its brand index score has risen 2.7 percentage points to 7.5 over the last six months.

In 2001, TUI introduced a single logo across its brands, including Thomson, to harmonise the experience for holidaymakers, and the latest group rebranding follows rival Thomas Cook Group’s decision to centralise its marketing communications last year.

Thomas Cook said the changes were made after it discovered that the needs of its customers were more similar across Europe than previously believed.

The move could also be to halt the growth of independent bookings, which are on the rise in comparison to a stagnant packaged holidays sector.

In 2013, 58% of UK holidaymakers booked their last domestic or overseas holiday themselves, according to Mintel, which forecasts UK households will take almost 41 million overseas holidays annually by 2018.

A senior representative from Thomson declined to comment to Marketing Week on the potential changes.