Imagine designing an airline for young adults — or “millennials”, as they’re called nowadays. Well, Air France has gone ahead and done just that. It’s called Joon (get it?), and it launches this fall.

Here’s a not particularly helpful video they made to promote it:

While we’re still waiting for full details about Joon, we know that:

a) it won’t be low cost
b) it will be “innovative and offbeat”, prioritising “enjoyment”
c) flight attendants will wear polo shirts, bomber jackets and skinny jeans

Hmmm….it’s fair to say Air France has assumed rather a lot about what young people want from air travel. What about getting from A to B for a reasonable price and with minimum hassle?

In Air France’s colourful imagination, there’s an entire generation of “epicurean and connected” millennials out there who are prepared to pay more for a quirky lifestyle experience complete with stereotypically “trendy” staff. Bien sur.

Don’t assume

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Air France has come in for a bit of stick.

Since when were millennials all flush with cash and obsessed with being cool? Since middle-aged marketing types wished they were.

It’s all a little bit out-of-touch, like a teacher trying to be “down” with the kids.

Air France’s VP has said that while dreaming up Joon, millennials “inspired us a lot”. Well, what about asking your customers what inspires them?

After all, it’s real people who are going to be using this airline, not someone’s idea of them.


Listen to your customers

It’s always a good idea to listen to what your customers are saying — especially if they’re millennials.

What about asking your customers what inspires them?

Millennials have grown up with the internet. They’re digital natives used to shopping around for the best deal online and interacting on social media.

They expect brands to be constantly providing them with information, understanding their demands and adjusting their solutions accordingly.

By not doing this, Air France showed that they were stuck in the past. And when you’re trying to launch something youth-oriented, that’s a bad place to be.

Get serious about feedback

This is all about building your business around what your customers are saying. Creating a culture of listening to customers and believing that their voice is valuable.

For some businesses, this requires far-reaching changes that won’t happen overnight.

But one practical step is to proactively ask for feedback, to get insights into what your customers want.

By doing this, Air France might have discovered that stewards in white trainers wasn’t top of millennial air passengers’ priority list.

Once you’ve got the insights, then you can take action, as plenty of big brands have done. BA Holidays, Jardine Motors, Eurocamp and TSB, to name a few.

But UGC isn’t only useful for listening to your customers.

Changing perceptions

Air France doesn’t need a spin-off to be cool again. Here’s a way to change brand perception by using UGC.

Let’s say you’re a heritage brand like Air France. You’ve got a stuffy image and a reputation for older clientele.

Your demographic data tells you this isn’t fair. You’ve got plenty of younger customers – it’s just your brand perception that needs freshening up.

Instead of launching a whole new airline aimed specifically at millennials, you can use UGC to change how people see your brand.

Collect content, like reviews, images and stories, specifically from your younger customers for you to display on your site. Authentic endorsement from real-life millennials…no “inspiration” required.

Volvo, General Motors and Lexus changed their brand image by doing just that.

Is Joon a symptom of a brand not listening?