Lufthansa has been in India for more than half a century, and has successfully ridden on its ‘More Indian than you Think’ image in the last couple of years. Wolfgang Will, Senior Director- South Asia and Sangeeta Sharma, Senior Manager, Marketing and Product, India of the Lufthansa Group Airlines, tell us how important a market India is for them

Post On : 24-04-2017 | Monday

Lufthansa has been in India for more than half a century, and has successfully ridden on its ‘More Indian than you Think’ image in the last couple of years. Wolfgang Will, Senior Director- South Asia and Sangeeta Sharma, Senior Manager, Marketing and Product, India of the Lufthansa Group Airlines, tell us how important a market India is for them


Q] How will A350 change the game for Lufthansa Airlines in India?

Will: Lufthansa A350 being the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft, will add great quality in our offerings out of India because we are talking about not only a fuel-efficient aircraft, but one that will reduce the noise footprint by 50% which is good for all the people living near the airport. We have several other features like noise reduction inside the aircraft, LED mood lights that adjust to the bio-rhythm of the passengers etc. It’s about passenger comfort and flight comfort and offering the best to our customers in India. In fact we launched the Lufthansa A350 services first in New Delhi and Mumbai has become the third destination worldwide to have it.

Q] Why did you decide to launch A350 in India first and what percentage of the overall revenue of Lufthansa does the India market contribute to?

Will: This aircraft really adds capacity to our routes to Munich. While Munich was selected because it is an important hub for us, India was picked because we see healthy growth here especially when it comes to the point of sale, we have seen a huge increase in passengers in a competitive market like India. As far as India’s revenue contribution is concerned, 2% may sound very little. But if you look at our overall turnover of billions and billions of Euro, then it is a very significant amount. I can tell you that India is within the top 10 markets for Lufthansa.

Q] In 2014, Lufthansa’s first country specific TVC was launched in India…you have carried forward that theme ‘More Indian than you think’ in your recent campaign too. Why does a German success story in aviation need to look Indian to make it work here?


Will: Actually there is also an Indian success story which we wanted our customers to see. Our first ad showed the connect between Germany and India, telling customers here that Lufthansa is catering to their expectations and needs. This second TV commercial goes a step further. While the tagline is still ‘More Indian than you think’, we wanted to demonstrate how India has grown in importance for the rest of the world. We cherish the success story of India and the best way to show it was through Cricket, in which India is without doubt a champion. 

Sharma: We wanted to take our passengers’ trust in Lufthansa beyond the rational level to an emotional level. So the TVC is a celebration of India’s growing importance and how the world wants to be like Indians. For e.g. the film Dangal was released in North America and Canada across 331 cinema halls two days before its India launch. Turmeric Latte which is nothing but our ‘Haldi milk’ is one of the most popular drinks sold at Starbucks worldwide. Can the world get more Indian than that? So it’s not about Lufthansa trying to be Indian, we are basically only highlighting what we already had for some years i.e. Indian food, Indian flight attendants, Indian entertainment etc.

Q] What are the different mediums you are using to promote the campaign?

Sharma: We have a huge Digital campaign. We have got 1.6 million impressions on a 24 hours property that we were running on YouTube. So we are everywhere—videos, on social media, digital platforms and not just Cricket websites. We have used Cricket in our ad because it’s a sport India loves like no other and it also cuts across demographics and age groups. We wanted to make a statement that we understand the distinct needs and preferences of an Indian customer.

Q] When you came up with your first ad, Lufthansa saw a 13% jump in the number of passengers from India…what kind of target have you set for yourself this time?

Will: The same year as our first TVC launch in India, we had added much more capacity with the Airbus A380. So the ad helped us to fill those additional seats then. We are confident it will happen again. As a salesperson I want as many people as I can get to board our flights. The limit is always the capacity because you cannot have more sales than seats available on the flight. So, yes it is in line with our business plan to sell more tickets out of India, and we are already seeing a healthy growth. However it is not happening only because of the TVC, we have an approach which covers a lot of segments within the ‘More Indian than you think’ campaign. We are also very active on the corporate side like our initiative Lufthansa – Runway to success which promotes Indian entrepreneurship. We have also had initiatives like the Diwali surprise where we connected the Indian community throughout the world and lit up our planes with Diwali lights. Then there was Lufthansa Cook & Fly contest where the winning recipe became a part of the Lufthansa First and Business class menus. Then there was the ‘Your announcement contest’ where a boy from Mumbai outclassed 14 shortlisted children from several other countries to make an inflight announcement on a Lufthansa aircraft.


Q] United Airlines had to face backlash because of the overbooking controversy, what steps are you taking to ensure overbooking causes minimal inconvenience to passengers?

Will: We have a very structured system to tackle any flight which is overbooked. If volunteers agree to stay back we take over all their expenses till they are booked on another flight, in addition to giving them cash benefits. Interestingly we have more people who are keen on taking up this offer than we actually need. They actually get disappointed about not having to stay back in the event we have more no-shows than expected. “Oh no, I had already planned on what to buy with this unexpected income” is a reaction we often hear. Today our revenue managers have developed sophisticated systems which can predict the demand very well. So, unlike 20 years ago when flights were overbooked by a number exceeding 30-40 today we are talking about a very small number which can be controlled better.

Q] What kind of growth has Lufthansa registered in the past year in India?

Will: We are not talking on specific markets but I can assure you that in the last couple of years, Lufthansa has had a healthy double digit growth.

Q] What is the biggest challenge Lufthansa faces in India?

Will: The fuel fees and taxes on fuel are very high in India. Operational costs are high. But this is something that affects each and every airline. I am convinced that if this burden is less, growth would be more accentuated in India.

Q] Looking ahead, which areas do you see as potential growth drivers?

Will: We are the most successful European carrier here. We didn’t have the chance to add a new destination, a new flight every couple of months like the Middle East Carriers, so we did not grow the same way. But we grew within our possibilities. We are currently integrating our operations here after the launch of services to Mumbai by our subsidiary Brussels Airline. Traditionally we have been strong when it comes to the corporate segment. We have now seen the leisure segment expanding, and would like to have a strong footing there. That is exactly where our campaigns help us-- to make our potential customers see that there is a choice. There are so many passengers who would have never thought of travelling on Lufthansa Airline, but now they are considering it.


Category: CMO Interview Volume No: 13 Issue No: 46







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