Business Traveler Market Share Growth Strategy NRW Germany

Strategic Change Program

Market share: +5% points in 2 years

This business case is related to a market share growth strategy of a global airline in the German market. Whereas the airline's market share in the Netherlands was above 55%, just over the border in Germany it was only 6%. A strategic study revealed that the airline's natural catchment area included North Rhine-Westphalia/NRW as well. Hence, the aim was to grow the market share of frequent business travelers to at least 15% in 5 years.

Situation - North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the largest Bunderlander of Germany with over 17Mn residents. However, we knew from quantitative consumer market research, that frequent travelers only made up 4% - or approximately 500.000 persons - of the total population of 18 years and above.

Hence, to reach them effectively while avoiding wasting millions of marketing dollars on expensive mass media campaigns, we had to come up with a disruptive strategy (please bear in mind that those days internet and email campaigns did not exist).

Solution - Since the use mass media such as newspapers, TV, radio, etc. would have resulted in a very negative ROI, we decided to go for direct marketing. The only issue was of how to identify and target frequent travelers effectively. Firstly we tried list brokers, but our at random sampling research revealed a 90%+ waste as well.

So we went for another approach. We found a very well profiled database list of 42Mn households in Germany ( The Schober household database was unique in Germany and allowed drill-downs on basis of geographic, demographic, psychographic, and durable consumer goods possession. However, not on frequent traveler criteria. However, at that time, the airline had about 100K frequent flyer members in NRW. So we developed a very extensive 4-page questionnaire with all possible questions regarding business and leisure travel journeys, buying criteria, decision-making units, etc. We also included about 25 profiling questions that matched the segmentation profiling criteria of the Schober list.

The questionnaire was sent to all 100K members, and to our surprise over 45K replied ( although the incentive of free points might have helped the response rates). Because we were able to mirror from a considerable sample size (45K), the accuracy of the Schober data selection was very accurate as post research proved (above 75%). In the meantime we developed a massive direct mail campaign existing of 10 direct response mailers, covering awareness, image of the airline and of Schiphol Airport, and business, and economy class.

eMs Contribution - Strategic market assessment │ strategy design │ development of the direct mail campaign │ management of the research and execution of the direct mail campaigns.