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Marketing concepts: Qatar airways

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 4207 words Published: 25th Apr 2017

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Advertising is an indirect way of communication which influences the target segment to consume their product or enjoy their services. The study of this advertisement will help us examine the concepts of consumer behaviour used in the promotion of the Premium Terminal of Qatar Airways. This will help us determine the reasons for requirement of a premium terminal and also study key elements used which attract the passengers. Most of the passengers travelling by first and business class could relate to this advertisement, hence resulting in its success. Qatar Airways is the national airline of Qatar and has its headquarters based in Doha. According to Mr Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Doha International Airport and Qatar Airways – For a visitor, the first point of contact with Qatar is generally the airport and it is their driving priority to ensure that the best-ever facilities welcome first-time and return visitors. It gives all its first class passengers an access to the top end spa facilities and even body massages to relax themselves. “The new Doha Airport will set a benchmark for all the future airports. It will be an international signature for the vision of Qatar,” he declared in London during a ceremony to unveil the Master Plan of new Airport.

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This advertisement is a part of multi-million dollar global campaign designed to demonstrate the assets of the airlines and to increase its awareness among masses. It’s one of the three advertisements which are a form of extensive brand campaign launched by the Qatar Airways for its extensive promotion which include the Lounge, the Appetizer and the Journey. However we are going to analyse the Lounge Commercial.

We shall now look into background of the product which is Qatar Airways.


The background is going to give us an insight about history of the airlines and an overview of its current position. Qatar airways is among the fastest growing airlines with an unmatched in-flight service based on what Porter (1985) would refer to as the competitive differentiation (Porter, 1985). Initially the airlines were privately owned by a royal family of Qatar. It became operational from 20th January 1994. But at present, this airline is partially owned by private investors, while the government holds 50% stake. Qatar Airways has managed to push the boundaries in aviation industry achieving what other airlines have been unable to do. The company follows a long term growth strategy, which includes addition of a new aircraft every month to their growing fleet size and inauguration of the New International Airport at Doha by 2011.

Qatar airways have a unique Privilege Club which is one of the most generous loyalty clubs in the world. Its members have an access to a range of exclusive services and benefits designed to make their travelling experience comfortable and rewarding.

Since we have a rough idea of the product, we will now study the association of this advertisement with different cultural dimensions used by Hofstede, as this will shape a path for the application of other relevant theories.

Hoftede’s dimensions :-

Geert Hofstede introduced the five dimensions of culture which distinguish between different cultures across the world and help the marketers in the development of advertisements. This advert satisfies the Hofstede’s dimensions of Culture.

High Power Distance- Since the premium terminal at the Doha International Airport is exclusively for the first and business class passengers and not for the economy class, it relates to the Hofstede’s high power distance. It’s so because there is a lot of difference in the quality of services provided to different classes – be it economy or first class. It even relates to the culture of Qatar.

Masculinity- According to Hofstede, “Masculinity stands for a society in which gender roles are clearly distinct: Men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success; women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life”. The main elements portrayed in this advertisement are ego, high status and comfort. The high level positions are mostly held by men in Gulf countries like Qatar. Thus Qatar is a highly masculine country which is very well depicted here. The business class is still considered to be male dominated. Thus we see a man enjoying the premium services at the Qatar lounge. The people in such social cultures give a lot of importance to status and money and are ego-oriented. Thus this brand helps its customers to associate themselves with high status and power.

Individualistic – This term refers to a culture in which everyone is expected to look after themselves. As we can see, the man shown in advert is individualistic because he’s independent. Further the use of a mobile phone and laptop enhance his individuality. As perceived, all the first and business class passengers have the privilege to enjoy unique services like spa, sauna, Jacuzzi etc. Thus as an individual, they like pampering themselves.

Now since the idea of advert has become pretty clear after studying the Hofstede’s dimensions, we can now focus on some more theories to explain the whole concept in depth. To start with, let’s understand the purpose of using some specific objects and signs in this advert.

Semiotic Analysis

Semiotics can be defined as “the study of the correspondence between signs and symbols and their roles in how we assign meanings” (Solomon, 2007, p 103). Every advertisement demonstrates a symbolic meaning. Semiotics is an apt way of understanding an advertisement and is often used to analyse it. If we talk in terms of marketing, it is thus the study of how these marketing environments and advertisements of their products make efforts to re-create the meaning of acting on people’s sensual awareness of tastes, sounds, smells, images, and words. Rather, we would not exaggerate the point if we say that as humans, we are the ‘meaning machines’ in that human beings tend to get through everything that is sensed with meaning (Desmond, 2003, p 183).

It is interesting to know that meaning of an ad is based upon the interpretation of the viewer, as much as on the people creating it (Langrehr & Caywood, 1995). As a result of this, the people will think at an individual perspective and therefore will interpret the advert in many ways based on their socio-cultural environment, personality and knowledge. However from the semiotic point of view, every marketing message has three components: an object (product), a sign (symbol), and an interpretant or meaning, and is commonly used for analysing different types of advertisements (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2004) as a result of which it is selected for this purpose.

Many symbols have been used as semiotics in this advertisement each of which defines something different. The object is Qatar Airways, the Iphone is the symbol. It can have different meanings based on the individual interpretations. It can be taken to represent the luxury and high social class of the passengers travelling through the Qatar Airways. Whereas on the other hand, it could be thought to help its passengers connect to their loved ones. While from another perspective it may represent a person as an individual as many scholars consider the use of cell phones as individualistic. They have shown the passenger, a porter and an air hostess in the advert. But if we analyse carefully, they have not shown the face of any of them. This is so because they don’t want their target audience to deviate from the product, rather they want them to concentrate just on their product and amazing services they provide to their customers.

There has been the use of various elements which can be interpreted to be associated with royalty and high class, like the laptop, iphone, comfortable chair, vintage items, porters carrying the suitcases of first and business class passengers. The market research measures are mostly based on the visual elements, and not verbal elements, used in the advert. The quality work and giving personal attention to each of their customers is their main objective and trademark. The premium terminal at Doha International Airport provides exclusive services to its first class and business class passengers. These services include fine dining and spa facilities and even massages. The passengers can unwind themselves by pampering themselves with a relaxing Jacuzzi, sauna or a soothing spa and even indulge in some rejuvenating treatments from facials to body massages given by strained therapists perfecting in the aromatherapy (See Appendix 1).

The whole process of sauna or spa is depicted in a segment of this advertisement (See appendix 2). The use of objects like Gardenia flowers, bamboo, aqua marine stones for massage, steam, bath tub, and wind chimes relate to the exquisite royal services provided at the terminal. The wind chimes can be perceived as a symbol of relaxation and peace of mind while the other elements used relate to the materials used during a spa or sauna. This demonstrates the extra effortsl made by the authorities at the premium terminal to give the highest standard facilities to their current customers and to attract the potential customers. There has been an extensive use of the purple colour in the advert which leads us to give a thought to why they have used purple as the primary colour.


The colours convey meanings mainly in two primary ways which can be either the natural association or the psychological or cultural symbolism. The association of colours may arise from the political beliefs, superstitions, religious beliefs, historical reasons, cultural beliefs etc. The purple colour relates to the self knowledge. It is the union with your higher self (Colour Therapy). Qatar being a royal country associates well with the colour. The Qatar Royalty Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and his better half Sheika Moza bint NaseerAl-Missned have been seen supporting this colour many times. In a recent event, the Royalty wore a tie of purple colour while his wife wore a purple dress (See Appendix 3). Thus there has been the use of Purple colour in the logo of Qatar Airways as well as the uniform of the crew. One of the reasons can be that this colour is used in their country flag (See Appendix 4). The use of purple as the primary colour has its own significance (Color Wheel Pro)

-The flowers like lilac, orchids are purple in colour and are very expensive and rare, thus signifying wisdom and extravagance.

-The purple colour represents the royalty as this colour has been used by people of high rank or authority since ages. Thus implies visionary leadership.

– It symbolises luxury, comfort, power, wealth, respect and independence.

This use of purple colour represents the royalty and high class passengers travelling by Qatar Airways. It also explains the luxurious and comfortable services provided by the airlines at their premium terminal at the Doha International Airport. It shows the passion and dedication towards their customers. The premium terminal of Qatar Airways in Doha is a luxurious brand in itself. It gives us a royal feel and demonstrates a life of luxury and comfort.

We are now in a condition to associate the high class and luxurious social life with the behaviour of the consumers.

Social class and Consumer Behaviour

The behaviour of the consumers differs a lot across different social cultures. This depends highly on their socio-cultural values and their economy as well. Qatar is one of the fastest growing economies and continues to grow at an astonishing pace. It continues to deliver a wide range of high standard products to the International community. Its nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth has averaged surprisingly 27.2 % over the time period of 5 years (2005-2009). The Qataris have second highest GDP per capita incomes in the world and hence Qatar is the second richest country in the World. According to the Qatar Economic Review 2010, the people in Qatar spend the second largest amount of money on transportation after their housing. Qatar is a premium brand. The consumption of such a prestigious brand is viewed as a status symbol and whose price, even when higher by the normal standards, is considered to further enhance the signal of wealth.

It has been revealed by the researchers that perceived limited supply of products enhances the consumers’ value and preference for a brand (Verhallen 1982; Lynn 1991; Pantzalis 1995). “Items that are in limited supply have high value, while those readily available are less desirable. Rare items command respect and prestige” (Solomon 1994, 570). As we know that the number of seats in Business and First class is very less, therefore the rich people take pride in travelling by these classes as it makes them unique. Qatar is a country of royal and high class people. Thus the premium terminal is devoted to this higher and royal segment of the society where they are facilitated with all the desired comforts.

We have analysed the product and its features by now. The next step involves the relevance of the product to consumer and how the consumer relates to the brand.

Kapferer Brand Identity Prism

The branding has now changed from just identifying the product to dealing with the meaning of different brands through expanded brand identity systems. The entry of new system of brand identity is considered to be a great advancement towards a much more sophisticated version of branding, which suggests that in order to be successful and to stand out, different brands need to be imbued with human characteristics and traits (Aaker 1996; Kapferer 2004). Brands are thought to have a personality that consumers use as an avenue for expressing themselves or to experience those emotional benefits which differentiate the brand from others. We will now discuss the role of a consumer in influencing how brand personality is perceived. This is formulated on the basis of the fact that as consumers using a brand tend to build trustworthy relationships with it, they reinforce the positive attitude towards that preferred brand (Phau, L. Lai, K.C. 2000).

Now Kapferer has explained the brand identity prism in the form of a six sided prism shown below :-

Physical Appearance :- Every brand contains an external specificity which is physical appearance. This is the core of the brand and its value. It is the first step towards the building up of a brand. It represents the product features and attributes. The logo of the Qatar Airways is the head of Oryx gazelle which is an African antelope which lives in herds consisting of dominant males. This goes with the masculine society of Qatar. Since most of the country of Qatar is made up of deserts, therefore they have used this animal to represent the geography of Qatar as well. Use of purple colour is another way of identifying the brand as a status symbol. As mentioned earlier, this colour is perceived as used by royal and high class. So the people travelling by first and business class are able to connect to it.

Brand Personality :- This is a way in which the brand talks about the quality of services offered and at the same time, it indicates a human being. Thus it measures those characters of the consumers which relate to the brand. Some of the features as perceived in this advert are high class, status and superiority.

Relationship :- Every brand has the aim of maintaining healthy and long term relations with their customers. Thus it stands on the trust and associations. This is achieved through the great ambience, royal and comfortable environment provided by Qatar Airways. As seen in this advert, the facilities like spa, dining facilities with world class wine, porters carrying your luggage, etc add to the ambience and make customer feel special by providing superior customer services.

Culture :- This refers to the aim and values of brand. In this advert, the brand i.e. Qatar Airways possesses the culture of Qatar, country of its origin. Most of the brands possess not only personality but also culture. Thus we can see the elements of high standards in this advert. There is commitment to work and hospitality towards their customers.

Reflection:- The reflection shows the customer’s view of product. The reflection has to be such which helps the consumer relate to that particular brand. The Qatar Airways have been awarded the status of 5 star airlines, thus associated with high social class and prestige. For e.g. the passengers travelling by first and business class will consider themselves to be from a rich background as they get all the special and unique services.

Self image: – The self image relates to the features of advertisement of the brand which the customer can relate to. It goes hand in hand with the personality of brand. It is very helpful when it comes to understanding the behaviour of consumers as they will buy or consume the product corresponding to their self image. Thus it is the internal reflection of customer. The premium terminal for first and business class passengers gives them a feeling of inner satisfaction and thus makes them feel special by providing them out of the world facilities both on and off the ground.

Despite the advert being quite apt, there are still a few things that could make it somewhat better.

Limitations –

The advertisement focuses on only the first and business class passengers leaving aside the economy class. This biased behaviour might receive some mixed reactions from the people travelling in the economy class. Then we have noticed that as perceived by the advertisement, the culture represents an individualistic side, whereas Arab countries like Qatar are collectivist countries. Therefore, it may happen that the people may not connect themselves to the individualistic man shown in the advert. Hence they won’t interpret the advert as the marketers want them to. Moreover the word count prevented me from interpreting the advertisement on basis of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.

Conclusion –

The advertisement is designed in such a way that helps the target audience to connect to it. The people interpret these adverts differently on the basis of their culture, knowledge and beliefs. We made use of the Hofstede’s dimensions in order to get a clear idea of the cultural associations with the advert. Later we studied the semiotics used in it and how it relates to the consumer using the Qatar Airways. The colour theory was explained to emphasize on the importance of the purple colour used for the uniform of the crew and the logo. We can also analyse that how it gives an insight about the culture of Qatar and also associates with the passengers. Last but not the least; Kapferer Brand Identity Prism was used to judge the way a consumer perceives a particular brand as this model says that a consumer is what he consumes.


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Appendix 1:-

Appendix 2-

The narration of the advertisement-

Its 36 to 38 degree Celsius

No higher, no lower

Its soft but not too soft

Its just enough to smooth things out

Its all of this

Half way to anywhere

With plenty of time to spare

With Qatar Airways premium terminal in Doha

Five star service for first and business class passengers

Qatar Airways- The World’s five star airlines.

Appendix 3


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