Aviation Marketing: Should your brand be aligned with a moral cause?

Do customers want brand engagement or a moral cause to support?

Social marketing tactics are designed to engage the customer on different levels and extend the relationship. However some argue that engagement is not that important and that brand loyalty can be achieved by supporting causes or organizations that make the world a better place.

The aviation industry is comprised of thousands of companies that work together to keep aircraft flying, people moving, and the wheels of commerce spinning. Airlines, airports, and a few manufacturers have adopted social marketing, Which begs the question: if the majority of related businesses do not practice some form of social marketing, are they missing an opportunity to grow their business and their legion of brand advocates?

Brands can only engage when the customer is open and receptive

The digital era has disrupted the traditional strategy of branded communication. The customer now chooses the time and place for brand interaction. Considering that the customer is subjected to over 3000 advertising messages per day, one can rationalize that engagement is overrated because the customer has built up a subconscious resistance to responding because of sensory overload. Do you really want to interact with a widget manufacturer or MRO facility? Perhaps, if they have something of interest to offer or a service that makes my life easier.

Enter the idea of the cause branding

The strategy of rallying the troops around a cause can be traced back to Chinese military treaties which existed during the period of the warring states (476-221 B.C.). In the Art of War, 5 principles were identified that should be considered before entering into a military campaign:

The moral cause

The climate

The terrain

The command

Organization and discipline

Although well over 2000 years old, these principals can still be applied to aviation marketing in the digital era.  Marketers practicing people-to-people engagement may want to consider linking their brand with a cause.

Recent studies have indicated the following:

  • A shared passion can create a shared relationship between a brand and its target consumer
  • Consumers may reward or punish a company depending on its commitment to social or other causes
  • Cause marketing should be considered as a loyalty strategy for customer engagement

Leading by example

Southwest Airlines walks the talk when it comes to cause marketing. One cause they support is the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant program. Through this program, SWA provides complimentary round trip tickets to nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation programs. To date more than 26,200 tickets in 24 states have been distributed.

I’d like to hear from other aviation marketers. Have you aligned your brand with a cause? Was it beneficial? Did your customers treat your brand with a preference?

Comments welcome below.

To lean more about SWA’s Medical Transportation Grant click here

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