Why newness matters more than ever for travel retail

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

By Marco Passoni

There was much talk in the wake of the pandemic about how we have moved into a “new normal”, but as I look around the travel retail sector today, I find myself asking the same question: How much ‘new’ is there?

How much has our retail offer really changed following the seismic closure which many thought would change and reshape the travel retail sector for good?

As we look around our industry today, the outdated Master Concession continues to be used at major airports which should have moved on – and despite its high-profile failure in some recent tenders and much of the retail offer remains the same. I know that changing how we do business, and the physical form of the industry will take time, but why should our retail offer still be largely the same as before the pandemic? To me, that is madness.

There are many new and exciting brands looking to break into the industry and they are getting a chance in some places. We at 2.0 & Partners have recently seen success with our Acetaia Malpighi brand securing high profile listings with major retailers and the recent arrival of NAU! which is expanding its travel retail offer is another great example. But there should be so much more – and there must be if travel retail wants to make the most of its opportunity.

Why should our retail offer still be largely the same as before the pandemic? To me, that is madness

Recent data from the DFWC and m1nd-set shows my point. Today, less than a third of travel retail shoppers, just 31%, specifically plan their purchases, that is lower than the 35% recorded last year. On the other hand, impulse shoppers are now 26% of the market, compared to 23% last year. Shoppers are switching from planning to impulse. These shoppers are thrilled by price – another issue we are not paying proper attention to – as well as the chance to find new products and exclusive offers.

Personal engagement in the moment is the key for these shoppers. With more than half – 54% according to m1nd-set – saying they are buying for themselves, we are seeing a shift to personal shopping, rather than the historic gift and on-demand purchases.

Today’s travel retail shoppers are buying for themselves, and they will be more inspired and engaged by something new. Indeed, they are open to being inspired. But it seems we are not willing to take the risk, or do the work, to inspire them.

Shoppers who do not find newness will continue to look at their phones and do their shopping online

Are we kidding ourselves that our customers will continue being satisfied with the same offer as they saw on their last trip, even if that was before the pandemic? If so, that is madness on our part.

Shoppers who do not find newness will continue to look at their phones and do their shopping online. Putting products from the domestic market into new packaging is not delivering newness. Now is the time for true innovation; for new brands, new products and new presentation. We have all talked about it, now we need action.

Marco Passoni has decades of experience in the travel retail sector. He has spent the majority of his career in senior leader positions throughout the market, including a 12-year tenure as CEO of a leading international Duty Free distribution company and a further 8 years running a retail firm that operated fashion mono-brand stores in several international airports.
Today, as Senior Executive VP and founding partner of 2.0 & Partners, he leads the company’s efforts in developing and innovating services which create new opportunities and partnerships for all members of the travel retail Trinity. A former elite-level sailor, with a World Championship to his name, Marco now spends much of his time airside, experiencing the changing travel retail industry first-hand, to better guide partners and clients on the best way to do business in this vibrant and unique market.