Decoding leading American airlines' success in driving purchase intent
December 6th, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

Decoding leading American airlines' success in driving purchase intent

The choice of an airline is more than just choosing a carrier to one's destination. It’s a discerning decision influenced by not just service quality but also cost and overall value- a sentiment shared by 48% of US adults who, as per recent data from YouGov Profiles, indicate their choice to book budget flights when they travel for leisure.

Evidently, value is an important consideration for American consumers when purchasing flight tickets. But which airlines are really perceived as offering the best value for money?

Data from YouGov BrandIndex reveals that Southwest Airlines earned the highest Value score - which tracks whether consumers think a brand represents good or poor value for money - between August 30 and November 29, 2023. The world’s largest low-cost carrier - who welcomed the Hallmark Channel to their inflight Live TV line up just in time for Christmas – scored 22.9 points during the three-month period. Southwest’s significant lead on the other airlines in the list can also, possibly, be explained by its 2023 Cyber Monday sale that offered consumers 30% off on base fares for travel between January 9 and March 6, 2024.

The American legacy carrier, Delta Airlines, who recently introduced an expanded food and beverage menu across Delta One and domestic first-class fights and rolled out a slew of ‘Fly into A Winter Wonderland’ deals for the holiday season, comes in a significantly distant second with a score of 9.3 points. JetBlue sits at a close number three with 7.7 points followed by United Airlines and American Airlines at 7.3.

Hawaiian Airlines, the largest operator of commercial flights between the US and Hawaii (3.1), British Airways, United Kingdom’s flag carrier (2.2) and Quatar Airways, flag carrier for Qatar (1.8) close out the top 10 list.

When ranked by the value for money offered, Southwest Airlines clearly beats the other brands in the list by a large margin. However, does the brand's perception as one that provides a bang for the buck translate into tangible sales?

Using data from YouGov BrandIndex, which monitors several key measures of brand health daily, let's explore the performance of Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, and JetBlue to uncover how successful they are at converting consumers, from Awareness to Consideration and finally Purchase Intent.

Stage 1: Awareness

At the top of the purchase funnel is Awareness, a measure of whether consumers have ever heard of a brand. All three brands have high rates of Awareness among consumers in the US but it’s Delta Airlines that’s the clear leader at 91%. Southwest ranks second at 87% and JetBlue is in a slightly distant third at 82%.

Stage 2: Consideration

When it comes to the brands that Americans would consider choosing the next time they’re in market for air tickets, Delta Airlines once again leads the pack with a Consideration score of 90.5 percentage points.

Looking at their conversion rates from Awareness to Consideration, however, Southwest Airlines shares the top spot with Delta (40% for both) - double the conversion rate registered by JetBlue during the period (20%).

Stage 3: Purchase Intent

The Purchase Intent stage shows the brands consumers would be most likely to actually buy from. Unlike in the case of the first two stages of the purchase funnel, this stage is led by Southwest Airlines with a score of 17.8% - more than thrice that of JetBlue (5.2%).

Converting at a rate of 51%, Southwest Airlines fares the best at moving consumers through the purchase funnel - from Awareness to Consideration to Purchase Intent - and edges out Delta Airlines (43%) and JetBlue (32%).

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Methodology: YouGov BrandIndex collects data on thousands of brands every day. A brand’s Value Score is based on the question: “Which of the following brands do you think represents good/poor value for money and delivered as a net score between –100 and + 100. The data is based on the interviews of US adults aged 18+ between August 30, 2023, and November 29, 2023. The figures are based on a four-week moving average. Learn more about BrandIndex.

The purchase funnel performance of the top three brands – airlines in the US – by value score has been further analysed to uncover how successful they are at converting consumer awareness into sales.