Spirit Airlines: An Unorthodox Airline

Spirit Airlines: An Unorthodox Airline

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Spirit Airlines has long been considered an unorthodox airline. They, of course, address all four P’s in their marketing strategy; however, they focus a large amount of their effort on price and promotion. They focus on cutting price through “unbundling”. They focus on promotion through taking advantage of social issues and breaking news. Many advertisements and deals promoted by Spirit have given the public a definite shock-factor. Spirit has made two objectives very clear: they are furious at getting the customer the lowest fare possible by any means necessary, and they will similarly use any means necessary to get those potential customers to notice those fares. Such a blatant marketing strategy works. Even going up against some big competition, Spirit finds ways to be competitive and successful in flagrant fashion.
Spirit addresses “price” by attempting to get the lowest possible fair for their potential customers. They have instituted their “unbundling” strategy that essentially removes all the conveniences that other airlines afford. Fees for checked bags, fees for flight changes, and no complementary in-flight beverages are just a few of the cost-trimming techniques employed. This strategy allows Spirit to come up with impossibly low fares. It also conforms to customers who just want to get from point A to point B without paying extra for services they don’t use. This strategy, coupled with an in-your-face “promotion” ploy, has made Spirit Airlines “the most profitable airline in the U.S.” (Nicas, 2012).
In July of 2013, the Anthony Weiner scandal hit the newsstands for the second time. Not long later, Spirit unleashed the unabashed ad of a hotdog and the description, “Carlos Danger, In a Spirit Airlines Production, The Weiner Rises Again" (Costello, 2013). This ad is one of many that ride on the waves of social media hype to get the attention of the customer. Just a few weeks ago when the Miami Dolphins suspended a player for bullying, Spirit released this ad: don’t be bullied by high fares, fly incognito out of Florida (Wilson, 2013). Both advertisements were linked to low-fare promotions and garnered waves of attention. Other unsubtle Spirit ads seem to approach, if not completely tackle, the unprofessional. One of those ads features a man in bed with his friend’s mother. The tag-line totes, “You think that’s low? Spirit Airlines fares are even lower” (Segal, 2009).

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In-spite of furious public complaint, Spirit continues to breach unwritten contracts of marketing decency. Yet, they find results in the form of increased attention and, ultimately, revenue.
As for the “place” in their marketing strategy, 60% of Spirit’s routes overlap with American Airlines (Securities and Exchange Commission, 2012). Even in their most heinous of ads, Spirit typically tries to identify themselves as the lowest possible fare to vacation spots in the Caribbean. As a result, they are the self-proclaimed competitors of American Airlines and Jetblue. In order to set them apart from the competition, Spirit uses the aforementioned means of promotion and pricing.
The “product” tends to be the most ignored puzzle piece. This is done on purpose. In order to get such low-fares for pricing, the product must take a direct hit in quality. In fact, Spirit Airlines was considered the 11th worst airline in the world by businessinsider.com and was placed on the Consumer Reports “naughty list” for 2012 (Rosenberg & Davies, 2013). Spirit’s product really isn’t that great. Safety is a non-negotiable aspect of the product, but anything else is considered a potential cost-trim. If you want a low, safe fare, with absolutely no expectations of comfort or luxury, then Spirit’s “product” will do just fine.
Spirit has proven time and again that shameless marketing, unbundling of services, and timely advertising schemes get attention. Even when faced with public upheaval and behemoth competition, Spirit continues to succeed with their marketing strategy. By expertly focusing on price and promotion in the four P’s of marketing, even while sacrificing the quality of product, Spirit is able to find substantial success as a cheap vacation airline. The question is, will this marketing strategy continue to succeed, or will the public finally get fed-up?



Works Cited

Costello, C. (2013, July 25). Spirit airlines released an ad featuring anthony weiner as a masked hot dog. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/spirit-airlines- mocks-anthony-weiner-2013-7

Wilson, A. (2013, November 8). Spirit airlines: "don't be bullied by high fares, fly incognito out of florida.". Retrieved from http://www.nationalfootballpost. com/Spirit-Airlines-Dont-be-bullied-by-high-fares-fly-incognito-out-of-Florida- 1227.html

Nicas, J. (2012, May 11). A stingy spirit lifts airline's profit. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304749 904577384383044911796

Segal, D. (2009, March 28). Don't come crying to this airline. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/business/29spirit.html?pagewanted=all&_r= 0

Securities and Exchange Commission, (2012). Form 10-k. Retrieved from Edgar Online website:http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ABEA5PAQQ9/2782836702x0x6 50888/D0EABB5A-7957-4EDC-8CD0-A58A9A706444/Spirit_2012_10K.pdf

Rosenberg, M., & Davies, A. (2013, May 17). The 20 worst airlines in the world. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/worst-airlines-to-fly-economy- 2013-5?op=1

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