Dean Wilkie

I have been thinking about Qantas’s moves to start a new airline up in Asia.

Starting a new airline from scratch means that consumers will hold absolutely no information about the new brand. Nothing beats a fresh start right?


I really question Qantas’s approach from this perspective. Qantas as a brand has strong positive associations, which consumers will use in forming brand judgments and in comparing to alternatives. A quick search of the internet and you can see that in 2006 it was voted the 2nd best airline in the world. In 2011 it was voted the 8th best. A dramatic drop but still, Qantas is seen as the eight best airline in the world and it currently has a 14% share of the Asian market.The point is that Qantas has equity where as a new brand has none.

 The next thing I want you to consider is something called the order of entry effect. Essentially, in many categories a brand’s market share has been shown to decrease with its entry position. The later a brand enters, the lower the brand’s share. There are several economic reasons but from a marketing perspective, consumers will learn more about earlier entrants than later entrants. The more you know about a brand, the more likely you are to purchase it. To illustrate, the market share of airlines in the domestic market is roughly Qantas (65%), Virgin Blue (20%), Jetstar (10%), Tiger (5%). It is no coincidence that it follows the order in which these brands entered the market.

 My rough calculations have it that this new brand into the Asian market will be at least the 20th entrant. Using the average order of entry estimate, the 20th entrant into a category will get about 2.4% share. This is based on having parity with all other entrants on every other variable. In the airline category, this would be advertising, number of planes, flights, price, service, lounges etc. If this new airlines was at a disadvantage in any of these (which it will be), the market share will be even lower. In addition, the connection we have to Qantas because it is an Australian airline is the same connection every consumer will have with its local airline carrier. (Another barrier to consider).

 So you have to ask the question, does it make sense to launch a new airline or should they try and improve the competitiveness of its existing brand which has 14% share.

Lecturer Dean Wilkie is an expert in branding at the Australian School of Business.