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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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