Nov 1, 2014

Retail therapy at the airport

The shopping experience once known as ‘Duty Free’ but now known as ‘Travel Retail’ is a fascinating place.

Naturally it owes much of its unique status to the very specific mindset of its captive consumer audience: We are all on our way to another country, for business, on holiday, or to see someone special. In all of these situations, we might be open to buying a small treat or a grand indulgence, either to reward ourselves or as a gift to another.

Some of us are in a hurry, but others have planned to relax for a few hours as part of our travel experience; so what better than a shopping mall full of premium brands, to help us part with some of that foreign exchange we’re carrying?

For many product categories (perfume, fashion, electronics) the consumer experience is broadly similar to what we can get in the high street, but for the confectionery and spirits industries it’s a very different ball game. In contrast to a limited range of security protected bottles in the supermarket, here we have the chance to ‘big up’ the brand story and experience, using elaborate displays, tastings, competitions and other tangible interactions.

From a product perspective special editions (‘Travel Exclusives’) abound, a more sophisticated way of blurring price comparisons than simply upping the size of the pack. In Travel Retail the promises that packaging communicates through its ‘innate’ codes can be dramatically enhanced by the POS environment, especially if your budget stretches to a movie set. But there are also some cost effective, creative ways to get the attention of travellers, and to persuade them that they might want a little extra luggage…