Differentiation Strategy: Flying on Segmentation, Experience Design, & Relevant Messaging

There must be something wrong with me. I am generally content with my airline experiences and I have a lot of them. I’ve also been willing to forgive many of the service breakdowns I’ve experienced as a traveler – as long as I can get to my venue safely and in advance of the time I actually need to arrive (not necessarily what it says on my itinerary).

The Future of Air Travel?

That said, maybe airlines are moving even further in the direction of “experiential offerings.” Here is the contender:

In case you missed it, Joon is the new airline brand of Air France. With the announcement of the launch, Air France has communicated its intention to go after a clearly defined market segment and purportedly has designed an optimized experience for that sizable group.

From the Voice of the Brand

According to Caroline Fontaine, VP Brand at Air France:

“We started with our target customer segment, the millennials, to create this new brand that means something to them. Our brief was simple: to find a name to illustrate a positive state of mind. This generation has inspired us a lot: epicurean and connected, they are opportunistic in a positive sense of the word as they know how to enjoy every moment and are in search of quality experiences that they want to share with others. Joon is a brand that carries these values.”

In their preview statement about Joon (which evolves from the French word “Jeune” translated to “young” in English), Air France notes:

“Joon is especially aimed at a young working clientele, the millennials (18 to 35 year-olds), whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology. This new brand has been entirely designed to meet their requirements and aspirations, with an authentic and connected offering that stands out in the world of air transport.

Joon will not be a low-cost airline as it will offer original products and services that reflect those of Air France. Joon is a lifestyle brand and a state of mind. Short, punchy and international, the name Joon is designed to address a worldwide audience.”

While light on details, pending a grand unveiling around September, Air France has offered a glimpse into Joon’s “electric blue” brand colors and brand imagery in this YouTube video:

The Traveling Jury is Out

I am certainly not ready to opine on Joon’s likely success (given so little is known about its actual re-engineered offering), but I think a lot can be learned from Joon’s brand development and communication efforts to date.

Launching an airline is NO small feat. The infrastructure and investment (even in the context of a well-established brand like Air France) are daunting. To take on the endeavor, Air France likely:

  • defined an emerging traveler segment that they were not sufficiently capturing.
  • believed that they would not be able to retain their current traveler segment and attract their desired segment within their current brand structure or experience.
  • felt there was a market opportunity if they could resonantly “claim” and “design” an experience better suited for their target market.

Doing the Homework and Bitesize Info

Brand leaders at Air France and Joon have spent time studying their desired segment. As evidenced by their messaging, the study of millennials went beyond “stated preferences in air travel” and to core values as well as the overall lifestyle of that customer group.

Based on customer insights, Air France is launching a brand that attempts to “look like” and “speak like” the segment they are seeking to attract. The Joon announcement has sought to create “buzz” through video assets like the one above and via short easily shareable snippets about Joon’s unique value proposition (UVP).

Now What

I suspect leaders at Joon have paralleled their market research spending by investing heavily in revamping aspects of travel so millennials will feel that Joon’s experience is “perfect for people like them.” The title of a Fortune article written by Kirsten Korosec (Millennials Are Getting Their Own Airline and That’s Good for Everyone) speaks to optimism that improvements geared at millennials will have wide sweeping positive impact.

Like all things in business, the market will prove if Joon will dial-up a differentiated experience for its target consumer. For now, Joon’s brand leadership has seemingly positioned a well thought through market approach and has offered initial messaging that has conjured up images that maybe a truly different experience will take flight.




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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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