Guest Article - Trend Report

Digital tech to change confectionery travel retail space

Confectionery is most purchased category in travel retail with over half of items brought on impulse. Photo: HRG
Confectionery is most purchased category in travel retail with over half of items brought on impulse. Photo: HRG

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Technology is set to enrich the travel retail segment, where confectionery is already the most purchased category, says retail marketing agency HRG.

If you’ve ever found yourself with an hour to spare at a departure lounge of an airport, chances are the temptation of duty free has proved too strong to resist. Of course, confectionery brands know this, so whether it’s biscuits, chocolate or sweets – travel retail stores benefit from a captive audience to which they can market their products.

Incentives to purchase and limitations affecting purchasing decisions are changing all of the time in an airport, so we make it our business to understand how trends fluctuate according to evolving shopping habits.

Impulse buying

Confectionery is currently the most purchased category in duty free, above beauty, liquor and tobacco. In addition, the majority (55% ) of confectionery purchases are bought on impulse.

Most recently, we’ve seen that though gift shopping is still the big driver of pre-flight retail, the growth of a new generation of affluent shoppers at airports is putting pressure on retailers and confectionery brands to focus on boosting a more luxurious offering.

HRG and big brands

thompson cropped

Tina Thompson is digital projects director at HRG. The retail marketing agency has worked with clients such as Nestlé, Haribo and Reese’s.

For example, if you block out the flight information monitors and army of hand luggage trollies, many new terminals, such as at London Heathrow, look more like high end shopping centers than airports.

Omni-channel marketing

Many of the developments in confectionery at travel retail stores over recent months have been in response to the growing use of digital technology.

Over 80% of travelers now have a mobile phone with them while travelling, and at least half of these make use of Wi-Fi access when at the airport.

This presents an opportunity for confectionery brands to implement omni-channel marketing, with some brands aligning their interactive point of sale promotions with online campaigns to make that positive customer journey irresistible to weary travellers with foreign currency left to spend.


Personalization and real-time insights

Looking to the future, technology will enrich the travel retail shopping experience even more. Social media channels are likely to become the preferred, more sophisticated way to interact with brands, and so confectionery brands will be able to utilize these forms of communication to give customers more than just money off their purchases.

Instead, intelligent insight into shopping habits will inform how to attract a target market, giving rise to personalization of a brand’s offering, the ability to tailor the shopping experience according to demographic, season and time of day, as well as being able to adjust all of these variables in real time according to changing flight profiles and passenger numbers.


Lifestyle products

Ultimately, confectionery brands need to take the time to understand the trends in the travel retail environment.

For some brands, there’ll be an advantage in a particularly popular product. For example, chocolate is currently the most planned for purchase item, whereas candy and sweets are more commonly bought as impulse buys, however both are key for gifting.

Regardless of product type, the past few months in travel retail has demonstrated to us an advancing tendency for shoppers to utilize digital technology, and the demand for more of an experience, rather than simply a quick way to spend money.

Customers want their confectionery brands to reflect their more aspirational lifestyles, understand their desire to gift friends and family, and above all else, make them feel like a valued customer rather than simply an individual distracted by special offers when passing from A to B.

[Guest Article policy: ConfectioneryNews occasionally posts guest articles of interest to professionals in the confectionery industry. The articles are selected purely on their editorial value by our staff. We do not accept payment for any guest contribution.]

Related topics Markets Industry Voices Chocolate

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units sold or revenue gained

Posted by Catherine Mitchell,

With reference to the comment by Yngve Bia - Presumably your article refers to numbers of items sold per category rather than revenue?? Indicating customer behaviour rather than cumulative transaction value?

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Confectionery most purchased in travel retail?

Posted by Yngve Bia,

Dear Sirs,

I read with interest your article ”Digital tech to change confectionery travel retail space” dated 25 October 2016. It says, quote: “Confectionery is currently the most purchased category in duty free above beauty, liquor and tobacco”. I strongly question this statement.

Reliable and authoritative research conducted by Swedish research company Generation Research, a company that has kept track of the global duty free and travel retail industry for some 35 years, claims that in 2015 beauty products sold to the tune of close to US$ 19.8 billion equal to a share of the global DF&TR market of 30.3%. Confectionery reached retail sales worth almost US$3.7 billion equal to a share of 5.9%. Thus sales of beauty products outpace the sales of confectionery 5 to 1. Other categories ahead of confectionery are liquor (share 16.4%), fashion & accessories (14.5%), tobacco (11.9%), watches & jewellery (9.6%) and electronics (7.9%).

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