Horizont-The aviation is stronger
picked out as a central theme
18. Januar 2007
"The aviation is stronger picked out as a central theme"
Lufthansa head of marketing Andreas Bierwirths about the future media strategy and the response different audience
You are the head of marketing of Lufthansa for 100 days. The changefrom Germanwings in Köln/Bonn to Frankfurt, was it difficult for you?
Andreas Bierwirth: I always say I have two children: my son and Germanwings. It already creates a huge bond if you are involved from the design to the first charter for a low-cost-carrier and experience how this now flies with 25 planes and carry 7.5 million passengers in a few years. On the other hand it is very attractive for me to work for Lufthansa, which is an exciting brand and one of the few global German brands. There is no better way to fly.
As marketing director by Germanwings you could decide the skills of the airline by yourself. How much creative freedom have you been given by Lufthansa?
Bierwirth: A company like Lufthansa has grown and has a decision-making processes which is suitable for a big group. But also here the work flows with quicker. Conversely Germanwings became increasingly formal as they grew.
Which subjects do you wish to address first with Lufthansa?
Bierwirth: One question that I am concerned with is as follows: how can Lufthansa become more relevant to a younger audience? With a base price from 99 Euro we are actually a cheap airline. But this perception is not adequately pronounced.
How do you intend to change this awareness?
Bierwirth: We must strengthen the online area further. It is not about taking trade away from the travel agencies but about an expansion of the whole market. We have revised the website in 2006. In 2007 we will increasingly use searching engine marketing and optimised newsletters.
What do you understand exactly by optimise?
Bierwirth: After my experience newsletters generate reservations that can be measured because a break with the media is avoided. The customers see the offer and often book straightaway. This area of stimulation is for us important. Up to now there appears a weekly newsletter with price offers and one every 14 days with further information, however only in a small community. The aim this year is to double the rate of transmission.
The largest part of the media break of Lufthansa in Germany still flows into the classical media. According to Nielsen Lufthansa in 2005 still put three quarters of around a 20 million euros budget heavily in print. The rest went to TV, radio and posters. Will this split remain?
Bierwirth: There will probably be a shift in favour of online marketing, but also radio and Out-of-Home
Are all other media being neglected?
Bierwirth: Not with us. In stimulation marketing these media are supporting pillars because they create rapid coverage. To make a lot of business quickly they clearly work well. In contrast the premium area will continue with print, particularly magazines, and direct marketing will have a supporting role to play.
Lufthansa as Vollsortimenter offers on the one hand the Better-Fly-Offers for 99 euros for the populace, on the other hand it offers private jets and the First Class terminal for a handful of customers. Can one credibly advertise this way under one brand?
Bierwirth: This is just an art. My task is to develop the high quality perception further and to highlight, in addition, the variety of other offers. The advertising for this will not basically change. We will appeal to various target groups with various motives. Furthermore, we plan to sharpen the campaign all together. The same aviation theme will be made stronger picked and the sublines will be removed. Instead of seven or eight sentences there will to references with more information under Lufthansa.com.
So there will be no new changes from the new head of marketing? It will stay with the agencies MECH and Wundermann which are engaged at this time?
Bierwirth: I think it is wrong to change the agencies and the campaigns just because I am new. Adjustments must be made with care. The long lasting achievement of the Lufthansa campaign is well documented. The budget for the new year is about to be announced. We would eventually have another pitch, but not in the next year.
For two years Lufthansa is getting into sports sponsorship. Where will this lead?
Bierwirth: Sport in particular football have two aspects for us: On the one hand our connection with DFB and FC Bayern ties in with our claim for leadership in quality. On the other hand football for us is also economically relevant. We have free capacity in our airplanes on the weekend and the fans can travel to the away matches of their teams. Thus we have equipped www.lufthansa.com/fanflug with a sports portal that connects travelling with sports events. Incidentally, the handball world championship is also sponsored by us. Thus Lufthansa becomes a sports brand.
For 99 Euro per flight, the fans perhaps will take their wife and children. Nevertheless, the Cologne district court has decided in the end of 2006 that Lufthansa may not advertise any more with the base price because you have failed to point out to the fact that the service fee is yet to be included.
Bierwirth: Lufthansa have the most open prices in the market. The competitors are advertising with net cost, Lufthansa with gross prices. By comparison our 99-euro-flights are actually likewise 1-euro-flights because they contain airport charge, taxes and now also the service charge � so all expenses are included. Moreover we provide about 350000 tickets for this price a month, clearly more flights than a low cost carrier.
Have you considered advertising with the net prices?
Bierwirth: With my history this appeals to me naturally. But the respect for the Lufthansa brand prevents me from making this proposal. However when one notices that one prices himself at 99 euros in the market, one must consider this. At the moment it looks like the market is again crossing over to a communication in terms of gross prices.
The most contributed to the result were not the Better-Fly-Offers, but rather the tickets for the Business Class and the First Class. How do you intend to promote the HON Circle, introduced in 2005 which concentrates on the best Lufthansa customers?
Bierwirth: We have promised to the members of the HON Circle the highest product and service orientation. We must do justice to them by other innovations. Furthermore our HONs feel so connected with Lufthansa their experiences can be always transmitted directly to us. Therefore our HONs are also extremely important for the Customer-Feed-back-Management.
With the introduction of the HON Circle the Senator status has lost quality ranking. Can you afford to treat the Senators as a much-flying second class?
Bierwirth: The Senator is still a high-respected customer with Lufthansa. And the status is still perceived extremely positively. All the same we have also been in communication with our Senators about products also in the pipeline.
Interview: Juliana Paperlein
The 35 years old man answers as a marketing manager since beginning of September 2006 of Lufthansa advertisement, brand management, direct marketing and distribution marketing, customer analysis and market research as well as the areas Miles and More and Worldshop. Before Andreas Bierwirth was active as a manager of the Lufthansa daughter Germanwings which he has built on. Before his activity with Germanwings, the graduate in business management worked for The Institute of Marketing University of Münster and also as director of Westair in Dortmund.
The biggest airline of Germany carried in 2006 more than 53 million airline passengers, that’s about 4.2 percent more than 2005 and this may increase again once comparison with last year's turnover is published at the beginning of March. In 2005 achieved Lufthansa about 18.1 million euros of turnover � an increase of 6.5 percent. The most important traffic proceeds contributed 14 million euros, an increase of 8 percent in comparison to last year. The operational result doubled to 577 million euros. The largest contribution to the result is from the most frequent flying passengers, above all, the exclusive circle of First-Class-Customers who are looked after for two years in the HON Circle. The bulk of the business Lufthansa does is with favourable offers like the Better-Fly-Rates for 99 euros.