It’s another month, another airline, another amenity kit. This time, Formia brought together a collaboration with Etro and Aeromexico, offering their business class passengers a stylish new kit bag filled with the usual perks befitting a premium passenger. “The style of Etro’s fashion lends itself perfectly to these amenity kits whose exterior is made of an elegant, plain coloured material inspired by the brand’s gentlemen’s suits and inside, by contrast, the bags are finished with Etro’s signature Paisley pattern fabric giving the bags a particularly chic feel,” as described by Formia’s press release.
Now, before we start, I’d like to say, it’s a stunning kit, and certainly I’d be happy to get my hands on it, and like many of the other Formia kits partnering lifestyle brands with airlines, it’s a step forward in the passenger experience. But it does raise a question, how do these kits benefit passenger, or in fact, the airline?
There is a long list of airlines that offer stylish, cosmetic or fashion lifestyle brand kits, from Cole Hann, Acqua Di Parma, Versace, Bric, Rimowa to TUMI the list goes on. But with each one of these activations, the passenger receives a stylish small case blazoned with the luxury brand’s logo somewhere.
But if we take a look at an airlines’ ideal passenger, it’s a brand-loyal, premium traveller. That’s who they are trying to attract, and by this profile, hopefully they would be travelling frequently. Naturally as part of my job, I travel frequently too, and my home is now bursting at the seams (forgive the pun) with amenity kits, not fully sure what to do with them. Recycling them is hard due to their materials and usually when supplied one on a flight I will use a couple of items, meaning now that as gifts, these ransacked cases just come across second hand. I don’t have a need to put anything in them, as one has stood the test of time for many years as my trusted toiletries bag.
So what would a frequent traveller do with copious amounts of the same case. Collectors items? Not really. KLM have actually given the prime example of how to build customer loyalty and excitement, with their never ending range of Delft houses that truly are collectable in nature. Virgin Atlantic does the same with their salt and pepper shakers.
In fact, my cupboards are filled with branded leather amenity kits, yet for the life of me, I struggle to remember which flight they were from, and whose luxury fashion brand represents which airline. They are starting to become a cacophony of leather-clad coffins where flight socks and ear plugs go to die. If these kits actually represented the airline brand they would bring back fond memories of the flight, the same way Wilbur and Orville or the Delft houses do.
Virgin Atlantic recently revealed an eco-friendly kit, Finnair offer all the extras ‘on request’ to reduce the amount of wastage, Singapore Airlines do the same, with well stocked toilets onboard to cater for a passengers needs mid-flight. Yet the majority of carriers have tried to out-bling each other with the best names in luxury goods to appease their premium passengers.
I believe that a kit still has a place, as do these luxury brands, but the concept needs to be revisited. It should be smart, useful, certainly should have environmental roots, it should somehow better my experience, be a memorable keepsake and reflect the brand, be sought after and collectable and serve a purpose off the plane that means it won’t just gather dust in a bottom draw in a bedside cabinet which I will revisit months or years later.
I applaud the airlines that are doing something different, but if these luxury brand associations are important, then make these limited-edition collectable ranges. Make the airline brand just as important in this brand partnership, no matter what the financial driver might be. It goes back to my original question. How do the majority of these kits truly benefit passenger or the airline? Currently it seems, it only major benefit is to the luxury brand who can advertise their product to an airline’s affluent passenger – long after the flight has ended. Is it not time for the industry to be just a little smarter.