Developing needs blur lines across airlines and tour operators in the UK

Air travel is on the mend as traveller confidence matures. Branded search data shows strong industry-wide recovery with a 29% growth in the last 2 years and some airlines stood out, excelling at capturing the evolving expectations of flyers.
27 March 2024

Senior Consultant, Digital Analytics Kantar

Fit into Everyday Life to build your brand’s Demand Power

Brands with powerful mental and physical connections leverage their predisposition to create value faster, resist market downturns and recover sooner from them. We call this a brand’s Demand Power.

Brand tracking reveals how TUI and Jet2 strengthened their Demand Power to drive commercial resilience in 2023 and beyond, challenging easyJet’s lead in the value segment. BrandDynamics, Kantar’s daily brand performance tracker, shows that a steady and sustained progression on “fit wells into everyday life,” a key image positioning for value airlines, led to increased predisposition  for these brands.


What fit wells into everyday life means for consumers

Fit wells into everyday life means something different to each one of us, so we decided to dive into the largest source of unprompted consumer insights, Search, to understand what’s happening in travellers’ mind.

We used BrandDigital, Kantar’s monthly brand tracker powered by digital search, to analyse 12 airlines  active in the UK market, covering 28.6M average monthly searches from January 2020 to December 2023.

BrandDigital reveals easyJet and Jet2 were the only brands to outpace the market, both increasing their share of branded search by 5%, while competitors stagnated or lost share. In a nutshell, easyJet and Jet2 succeeded in increasing Salience and active search consideration as air travel ramped up.

Search data shows three areas where these brands won at fitting into traveller’s everyday life: 

• Increased attractiveness of package holidays, accommodation, car and other add-ons drove category searches (+193% in the last 2 years). easyJet and Jet2 capitalised successfully on this trend with a +389% and 171% increase in branded search, respectively.

• Increased interest in solo travel (+44% increase in interest YoY). Both easyJet and Jet2 developed dedicated content, pricing and offers to address the specific needs of solo travellers.

• Increased complexity of what is considered good value with growth in searches about luggage allowances, legroom and other limitations (+140% in the last 2 years), deals, vouchers and promotions (+71%) and reward schemes (+48%). These themes highlight flyers’ hunt for the right value equation. easyJet and Jet2 notably stood out by capturing Perks (+271% and +102%, respectively), a category usually captured by legacy carriers and their loyalty programms.


Breaking away from traditional industry silos

These digital signals suggest travellers are breaking away from traditional category descriptors and differentiators:

• Value airlines such as easyJet are becoming preferred options in areas typically associated with travel operators or legacy carriers e.g. package holidays and perks. Are they tapping into new audiences or are they testing flyers’ loyalty to historic players?

• While all-inclusive holidays remain a mainstream demand driver for package holidays (+263% in the last 2 years, 42.0K average monthly searches), terms such as Airbnb (+185%), safari (+200%), accommodation (+39%) display disruptive potential in that space with lower-than-average volume but high growth in demand. 

These terms suggest travellers are curating their own experiences and cherry-picking from different experience providers, opening opportunities for revenue diversification and increased personalisation e.g. booking an Airbnb through an airline, choosing a Travel Operator’s airline but choosing 3rd-party accommodation or looking for a more immersive, safari-type, experience.

• Increased attractiveness of package holidays reflects travellers’ appetence for hassle-free travel. Yet, it must be at the right value. Beyond cost consideration, increased demand in anything related to reward schemes and associated terms such as luxury (+100%), tier (+196%), points (+124%) highlight flyers’ hunt for exclusiveness and chasing a higher sense of status. They are balancing hassle-free travel with building experiences that make them feel special. 

These signals are grounded in foundational global travel trends, with travellers looking to get away from the routines of their daily lives and finding new opportunities to gain a sense of status from exclusive memberships and communities.


Overall, category lines are getting blurrier, opening opportunities for new products and services and amplifying the need for meaningful differentiation to cut through an increasingly competitive market.
Stay tuned to learn more and discover what Kantar’s brand solutions can do for your brand’s growth.
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