AirAsia ramps up Singapore presence

While Singapore has been a relatively neglected market for AirAsia, Kathleen Tan (pictured), CEO of AirAsia Expedia, has new plans to reach the market here, with her eye on two specific target groups.

With a newly formed local team in place, Tan told Marketing she was confident that 2013 would be a good year for the brand in Singapore.

The two groups she highlighted are "heartlanders" and the millennial generation.

With Singapore's small geography, she said heartlanders, those living off the central areas of the city, are looking to head out and travel and this will be a core target segment for the brand this year.

Until recently, the brand has primarily used online and social media to reach locals. But it is now adding print, to reach those in the heartlands. It started the year launching a series of print ads to promote its latest direct flights from Singapore.

While the tactical campaign might have been short lived, what it brings to light is  the long term change the airline is taking in its marketing direction for the country.

"Singapore is not a difficult market, English is widely spoken and we have to narrow down on who we want to target with our destinations. The Singaporean crowd is comparatively more sophisticated so the ads that run in Malaysia will not work here," she said.

In targeting the second group, more on-ground activation will be used.

In Malaysia, the brand is much more active with sports sponsorships and various engagement forms. However in Singapore the ads so far have been rather "soul-less", said Tan.

The local Singapore marketing team will handle on ground activation in the upcoming year to better connect with the millennial generation and understand the pulse of local travelers.

Last year, the brand fronted a new look, moving away from the bold red background after a decade of splashing red across all mediums for its ad campaigns.

"Bold, Fun, Friendly, Innovative - everything we have to do has to be innovative," she said, taking out her newly designed business card with the new black and white retro-themed background with a red AirAsia logo.

"To deviate from the red was very hard for me emotionally because I built on the red but there was a need to take the risk and innovate. If I had stuck to the red, the brand would not be evolving and I would not be evolving," she added.

She added that a lot of Asian companies do not concentrate on branding and that is a focus for the brand in 2013.