It was announced recently that Air France is reviewing what to do with Joon, its boutique airline geared towards Millennials. With the admission from Air France that the brand was “difficult to understand from the outset for customers, for employees, for markets and for investors” there will undoubtedly be many that pile on the airline whose days seem numbered.
While this will be added to the list of misguided efforts to market to Millennials, Air France’s efforts were not without merit. Air travel is generally a horrible experience. Trying to create a niche brand focused on experience isn’t a bad idea. Neither is creating a product/service specifically for a segment of customers. But…
When setting out to create an experience-based brand for a specific segment, the full experience needs to resonate with that group. One of the aspects of airline travel that makes it so terrible is the other passengers. Presumably, Millennials would prefer an experience filled with other Millennials. In order to create this Millennial-only environment, Joon would need Millennials to be willing to pay more (like a brunch place selling $30 avocado toast) or make the experience terrible for other generations (like the Firefly Festival). Joon offered low fares (remember, Millennials are poor) and an all around pleasant experience for everyone. So why wouldn’t a Baby Boomer booking a flight from Paris to Capri book this cool, new low-cost airline?
So was Joon really a Millennial’s dream when it comes to air travel? Or was it Ryan Air with craft beer? They get points for trying to improve the air travel experience, but it was probably doomed to fail, as Millennials are not going to shell out more money to upgrade their air travel experience. Until this cohort gets out from under student loans and is no longer confronting skyrocketing housing costs, it seems unlikely for a Virgin-for-Millennials airline to take flight.
This also begs the question of whether or not Millennials are enough of a homogeneous cohort to represent an actionable segment for businesses to market to. Of course, when we say that “market to Millennials” we are referring to the selfie-taking, brunch-loving, job-hopping hipsters society loves to hate. But the reality is that a lot of Millennials are currently leading normal, suburban lives driving kids to school and commuting to office parks. Me lugging my two year old onto a Joon flight isn’t what anyone had in mind for the Millennial airline.