The age of the toxic brand has dawned. This has ushered in an array of “Marmite” brands and love them or hate them it doesn’t matter – they’re winning either way!
The toxic companies are flourishing and no matter how many people despise them they keep on growing, fuelled by the horror stories we hear in the news.
Take RYANAIR: People really do hate Ryanair: this February, for example, a mutiny was reported on one of their flights.
Despite being grounded for several hours, passengers were refused food and drinks by staff.
In the end, the customer service was so bad the passengers took matters in hand and called the police: http://news.sky.com/story/1215664/ryanair-sorry-after-mutiny-on-delayed-flight
Ryanair’s image problem is neatly summarised by Google auto-complete:
Although its not just mutinies and Google Michael O’Leary has to worry about. Last year the airline was voted the number one worst brand by Which? magazine.
According to their survey, which was taken by 3,300 people, this was down to the “aggressive and hostile” way customers were treated, and the “rude and unpleasant” staff.
I doubt the hidden charges and extra costs wouldn’t have helped either.
According to the Mirror: “One traveller claimed to be happy to pay £50 extra on a rival airline “to be treated like a human being!”
In response to the survey, Ryanair fought back in its typically brash way:
In a statement attached to the tweet they wrote, “Which? hasn’t got a clue about air travel but consumers actually do, because they’re too busy booking Ryanair’s low fare, on-time flights to waste time filling in Which magazine’s tiny surveys.”
A terrible response of course, but they were right! You can be the most hated brand in Britain, but if you can give people offers they can’t refuse, and be on-time, it doesn’t matter.
Ryanair has been growing at an astounding rate in the last several years. Just look at their profits since 2009.
Despite reports this week that they’ve just experienced their first dip in five years, the company has predicted a 40 per cent increase in passengers by 2019: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/may/19/ryanair-profits-down-first-drop-5-years
They are also outrunning their rivals EasyJet when it comes to the public’s interest. Using Google Trends, you can see how much people have searched for each airline since 2004:
From 2009 Ryanair have dominated the search engine battle and if you look further their lowest dips of interest are roughly the same as Easyjet’s highest peaks. Which all goes to show: being love is great, but being hated isn’t as bad as you might think.
What you need to avoid is people not caring at all. “The opposite of life is not death,” said Elie Wiesel, “it’s indifference.”
As long as RyanAir stays cheap and on time, their toxicity is irrelevant.
Public hatred for a brand isn’t bad – it’s publicity. Which means that no matter how entrenched in their image it becomes, Ryanair will continue to fly.
Just don’t expect them to hand out any free snacks as they do so.