The research introduces a range of new consumer trends that are affecting shopper behaviour and highlights, several of which will be specific to the travel retail sector. According to Swiss research agency m1nd-set, some of the mega trends already emerging include an increased migration of price-sensitive shoppers to online marketplaces, enhanced tracking of human behaviour both physical and online, with more advanced analytics and targeting technology leading to greater personalisation, an increase in contactless shopping experiences as well as a greater focus on zero-waste production and more sustainable consumption practices.
The research explains how many of these trends will inevitably apply to the travel retail sector given how consumer expectations are evolving. The accentuated shift to digital following the global pandemic is one of the most prominent trends, which will inevitably impact the travel retail sector according to the research. Almost two-thirds of travellers spend more time on social media and more than half say they purchase more online than they did before the pandemic. The research points to a continuation of this tendency as novice online shoppers such as the Senior age-group become more accustomed to the e-commerce experience. The significant increase in the percentage of travellers who say they notice communications touch points more, further underlines the growing importance of digital communications in travel retail. 69% of travellers say they notice these touch points, the majority (98%) of which are digital, now in 2021, compared to only 14% in 2020.
International travellers are also more disposed to, and expectant of, a more sophisticated e-commerce experience in travel retail. More than half (53%) of travellers say they are willing to shop online or pre-order online and collect their goods either upon boarding their flight or on arrival at the destination airport. Chinese travellers are particularly keen on the shift to e-commerce in the travel retail sector, with 62% stating they would choose this shopping channel in travel retail. The global figure is significantly higher than in 2020 when only 24% said they would be willing to shop for their duty free and travel retail items online.
A greater focus on health and well-being, increasingly expected by international travellers, is another mega trend that will be reflected in travel retail. Around three quarters of travellers say they will prioritise their health and mental well-being
A greater focus on health and well-being, increasingly expected by international travellers, is another mega trend that will be reflected in travel retail. Around three quarters of travellers say they will prioritise their health and mental well-being more now when they travel than they did before Covid, according to the m1nd-set mega trends research. Shoppers say they prefer to purchase natural products across a variety of product categories, citing skincare and cosmetics, multivitamins, dietary supplements and sleep enhancers. Health and wellness conscious shoppers will spend more on anti-aging products, beauty supplements and nutrition products in particular.
Consumers are also more conscious about social and environmental issues since the pandemic, the research demonstrates, and are looking to purchase more environmentally friendly produced and packaged products. More than 80% of travellers said their perception of certain brands has improved as a result of the increased focus by manufacturers on sustainability. This positive brand perception will be positive for sales too; according to m1nd-set 72% of travellers say the positive brand perception linked to sustainability will incite them to purchase a product. Around two-thirds of travellers are even willing to pay more for a product if it has been produced and packaged in an environmentally friendly manner. The research reveals the segments most sensitive to the environment and willing to pay more are Europeans and North Americans.
According to the Swiss research agency, many of the new trends reflected in high street and other domestic retail locations will need to be reflected in travel retail also, to avoid a dichotomy between the two retail sectors. m1nd-set owner and CEO Peter Mohn explained: “The challenge the travel retail industry faces today is navigating through these numerous new trends and ensuring that the airport and onboard passenger experience is consistent with new business practices experienced in society at home. The post-Covid consumer is likely to be less forgiving and show less brand loyalty if the service or product experience does not cater to the new post-pandemic consumer mindset, particularly where health and safety is concerned.”
“The travel retail experience has often been besmirched for lagging behind the high street on digitalisation orbehind the online retail environment for personalisation and fulfilment, Mohn continued. “In the post-pandemic environment, travel retail will not only need to meet the level of innovation in the high street, but also match the modernisation in society generally”, he concluded.