Battle of the innovators
Virgin Atlantic is an example of a brand being smart about how it maintains the perception of its Category Innovator status. Virgin hasn’t been a disruptive innovator in the travel sector for some time, but they’ve successfully and consistently used product initiatives that speak volumes rather than sell volumes. They are experts at taking small things that give a perception of innovation and leadership (from the ice creams in economy, to the use of Google glass onboard a small number of flights) and giving them scale through a communications programme characterised by a distinctive personality and a real passion and purpose.
AirBnB are recognised for their role in reshaping the culture of travel – making us more collaborative, open and adventurous – and they are seen as coming up with valuable new innovations in the sector. But travellers do not yet feel like the brand is delivering this with the same sense of purpose, conviction and distinctive character as Virgin Atlantic delivers on its day. The result is that while there are high levels of intrigue about AirBnB, its levels of consideration and trust are dwarfed by Virgin.
AirBnB, has made a great start in short amount of time, but can learn from Virgin’s conviction and personality. If they can match their innovation with their levels of conviction, they will soon turn intrigue into trust and drive their market penetration and consideration further.
But Virgin Atlantic provides a lesson for other brands who are no longer at the cutting edge of their category. You don’t need to have it all, if you use your strengths smartly to increase perceptions in weaker areas.