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Post-covid buying behaviour changes to trigger travel retail rethink

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Travel retail will not be the same as it was prior to the pandemic and that travel retail stakeholders will need to rethink their strategies and the entire approach to the channel in order to remain relevant to consumers.

The latest consumer insights research report on shopper behaviour in the post-Covid-19 travel retail context reveals positive signals for the industry regarding global travellers’ planned shopping trends, but at the same time implies significant behavioural changes across all shopper segments are to be expected. The report, published by leading industry research agency m1nd-set is the latest in a series of studies focusing on how travellers from all world regions will change their shopping behaviour in post-pandemic travel retail environment.

The report focuses in particular on how travel retail shopping behaviour will vary across diverse segments in the post-Covid travel context. The diverse segments include nationality and regional segments, as well as age, gender, travel type such as business or leisure travel, and income levels. The report reveals quite different behaviour across the main themes, which include the tendency to resume travel, the increase in time spent browsing, learning and shopping online, changes in behaviour while travelling through an airport and changes in shopping behaviour, including staff interaction and the tendency to test and try products. The report concludes quite categorically however, that travel retail will not be the same as it was prior to the
pandemic and that travel retail stakeholders will need to rethink their strategies and the entire approach to the channel in order to remain relevant to consumers.

The research highlights the significant increases in digital revenues across all sectors and the impact this will have in the long term on travel retail revenues. According to m1nd-set, the shift to digital and e-commerce will not disappear in the post-pandemic world, reporting a significant percentage of consumers claiming they will continue to purchase online even after the pandemic. This figure varies considerably depending on the market, m1nd-set adds.

The report provides some encouraging findings for travel retail stakeholders with less than one sixth of global travellers saying they will not visit the shops when next flying internationally and less than a third claiming they plan to spend less time in the shops. This tendency is significantly lower than reported in a previous survey in April. The report reveals which segments and nationality or region have higher or lower desire to shop when travelling. Other positive news from the report is that the majority of passengers will continue to interact with staff in the duty free shops, but will take more precautions when doing so. The sensorial shopping experience will inevitably not be as in the pre-pandemic era but the majority of passengers will continue to touch, smell and test products, but again, applying greater precautions. 

Peter Mohn, CEO & Owner at m1nd-set underlined the need for businesses to rethink the business model, given the increasing influence of the internet both for shopping and as a source of information during the pandemic. “While the shift to online is not new, Covid-19 has served as an accelerator in the process, leaving businesses no choice but to create new experiences in the digital space. As second waves of the pandemic continue to surge and protective measures, abandoned only recently, are reintroduced to stem the spread of the disease, consumers will continue to shop online for goods, which they were previously used to shopping for in physical stores. It’s imperative therefore that all industry stakeholders experiment with new online strategies to ensure they will remain relevant to consumers in the long-term.

“The way in which airports, cruise and ferry companies, airlines and their respective commercial partners communicate with passengers will undeniably require a significant overhaul and some serious reimagining” Mohn continued. “The new normal, post-pandemic travel retail environment will require brands and retailers to work together to offer more tech-enabled and engaging online shopping experiences for customers. This will inevitably require investment into new, more interactive content for the digital retail environment, as well as more training of sales associates on how to engage with customers online.”

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