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In a dysfunctional time for the airline industry, most airlines, especially major carriers, are adapting the concept of "doing less with more." One low-cost carrier, JetBlue, is changing the domestic aviation landscape in this regard and is defying the odds. Here is a company that has examined each marketing mix elements carefully, has adapted them to its customer’s needs, and is succeeding because of this approach.
With regard to Product, JetBlue is cornering the marketplace with its productivity, in-flight features, and customer service. Due to the fact that the company only purchases new planes of a single type, maintenance downtime is reduced and it is able to keep its planes in the air. In fact, JetBlue maintains the highest in-air average in the industry. Additionally, JetBlue employs an "operational recovery tool" technology that allows planners to minimize flight cancellations and delays. On board, JetBlue prides itself on treating all customers as equals and providing more comfort than other airlines. Features that draw customers in include assigned seating (contrary to its competitor, Southwest Airlines), leather seats, more leg room, and superior on-board service. Furthermore, JetBlue is one only a few airlines that offers each passenger free Direct TV and XM satellite radio entertainment. Finally, with regard to customer service, JetBlue focuses intently on attracting and motivating a talented workforce. The company gives each employee a sense of ownership in the operations. This value and respect bestowed on each employee translates into a motivated, productive workforce that focuses on customer satisfaction and exceeds consumer expectations.
Although JetBlue focuses on service value through highly productive personnel and aircraft, potential consumers are still interested in value when they fly; the Price aspect of the marketing mix. Customers are interested in quality service at a reasonable price.
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In terms of Place, JetBlue continues to analyze the market. Through an investigative study, the company determined it was best not to compete in the New York-Boston and New York-Washington shuttle markets with the current dominance of Delta and US Airways shuttles. However, JetBlue is considering giving major airlines a run for their money as they consider to enter the high-demand Caribbean market.
Lastly, with regard to Promotion, JetBlue surprisingly has quickly garnered a loyal, satisfied group of flyers which has led to repeat business. As JetBlue has discovered that attracting new customers and customer turnover can be costly, the company focuses strong attention on customer retention through its high quality/low cost strategy and free word of mouth advertising. This approach helps increase the company’s profit margin and simultaneously reduce costs.
“JetBlue demonstrates that with the right people, the right product and the right cost structure, airlines can grow, even in this current, challenging environment” (Dodds, 2007). In an effort to maintain a leading edge, Z-Wing can learn from JetBlue’s marketing mix, described above. In addition to upgrading aircraft, introducing new long-haul jets, launching its ‘In Touch’ service, and implementing a new customer relationship management system, Z-Wing may find it beneficial to benchmark specific strategies from JetBlue. Tactics such as lower fares, higher quality service, new and standardized aircraft, and customer retention could prove to help increase profits, lower costs, reduce customer turnover, and redefine the company as a “different kind of airline;” one that customers would prefer over the competition.
Dodds, B. (2007) JetBlue Airways: Service Quality as a Competitive Advantage. Journal of Business Case Studies. Retrieved August 17, 2008 from http://www.cluteinstitute-onlinejournals.com/PDFs/211.pdf.