smith+co on
customer experience
Shaun Smith
  • By Shaun Smith
  • Jul 14 2008

Brands I love to hate: Ryanair, Capital One and Ikea

The July newsletter, Effective Experience, from GCCRM (Greater China CRM, the online community) is out tomorrow. Each month they ask an expert to co-ordinate and chair that month’s newsletter. This month the theme is CEM and Brand Differentiation and they asked me to take the helm in chairing it.

The Effective Experience newsletter goes to 116,000 members, which is amazing for a relatively young online community.

Here’s the opening of the newsletter.

Brands that I Love to Hate

There are some brands that I hate: Brands like Ryan Air, IKEA and Capital One. Yet I admire them for their singularity of purpose, clarity of vision and superior returns.I hate Ryan Air because it provides generally miserable customer service with its stampede to find a seat on boarding, hard plastic seats, unappetizing food and off-hand employees. However it a wonderful example of a company that successfully differentiates from competitors through offering a very low price point through a relentless focus on driving costs out of the business. It may not be an enjoyable experience but it is one that is highly branded and creates value for millions of customers.

I hate Capital One because I receive junk mail from this organisation seemingly on a weekly basis. The mail shots all say the thing and offer me the same credit card promoting a low rate of interest. They always enclose a tacky ball-point pen in the envelope. It has gotten to the point that now as soon as I feel the pen through the envelope I throw it away unopened. Yes this bank has been very successful and has elevated direct marketing to a science in its sector. It knows exactly what will appeal to its target customers and how to pitch this to get the maximum response rate. As a result, its market share growth has outstripped its rivals.

I hate IKEA because of the way they make me navigate their whole store just to buy one item and then make me transport it and even assemble it myself. Yet I am not a target customer for IKEA but, for those who people who are, wishing to buy good quality, extremely well designed furniture at a affordable price they are unbeatable and this is reflected in their profits over many years.

Of course there are brands that I love: brands like The Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, Virgin and Apple. I admire them for ... read more on the GCCRM site here