We asked a selection of leading duty free and travel retail (DF&TR) suppliers to share their views on top trends in the wines and spirits category in travel retail and how to capitalise on them in 2024.
The result is an insight-packed rundown of important dynamics to take note of in the New Year, as seen through the eyes of these leading industry experts.
Common themes cropping up in the comments include the push for premiumisation and the appetite for trading up.
Sustainability is also a key focus as “increasingly important part of any brand offer” as one of our contributors described. This is in addition to trends such as lower alcohol and a growing interest in ‘non-traditional’ categories such as new world whisky.
Read on for all the details…
“Premiumisation and the desire for exclusivity”
Stéphane Morizet, Marketing Director GTR, Brown-Forman
“Over all categories, we think the premiumisation trend will hold on as well as the desire for exclusivity. In addition to the ongoing premiumisation trend, we see continuous positive category momentum in the next five years especially across whiskey, tequila, and rum.
“Therefore, we believe we are well positioned to capitalise on the trends with super premium American whiskey, Scottish single malts, Casa Herradura tequila and Ron Diplomático in our ranks. We reach travellers by innovations and GTR exclusives, limited editions, exclusive partnerships and collaborations, tastings and education, accompanying sustainability initiatives.”
“The growing popularity of trading up”
Fida Bou Chabke, CEO, Global Travel Retail, Rémy Cointreau
“A significant trend that continues to grow in popularity is ‘trading up.’ Nowadays, travellers consider the provenance, differentiation, and innovation of products before making a purchase.
“They are open to spending more money on brands that stand for something, provide exclusive items unique to travel retail, and enhance their enjoyment of the product through engaging activations. By creating unique experiences that offer distinctive and memorable moments, brands build a deeper emotional connection and loyalty with travelling clients.”
“Sustainability and price sensitivity”
Pierpaolo Indelicato, VP International, Brockmans Gin
“Sustainability is a trend which is here to stay for the long term and it will become an increasingly important part of any brand offer, along with other equity drivers such as packaging, liquid, and communication.
“The other dynamic – perhaps more short term – will be around price sensitivity. We are seeing a significant shift in consumer purchase behaviour in domestic markets as a result of the cost of living crisis and inflation that is gripping all markets. We should expect that this behaviour will bleed into TR at some point so be prepared.”
“Premiumisation, innovations and sustainability”
Jean-Philippe Aucher, Founder of JP-GTR, which represents a number of brands in travel retail including Brockmans
“I would say there are a combination of trends that will continue to dominate in GTR. Premiumisation remains key to the industry. Also, innovations are vital to draw consumers and drive sales – products such as Brockmans Gin Agave Cut are important for retailers and consumers.
“Last but not least, sustainability from brands is essential and becoming a must-have. Brands such as Mijenta Tequila offer B Corp certification while FAIR, a Fairtrade certified spirits brand, is now available to GTR.”
“The emergence of non-traditional categories”
Simon Roffe, Director, Business Development, Penderyn Distillery (The Welsh Whisky Company)
“Clearly, as the recovery continues in all regions, I expect Asia will be the focus of everyone’s attention. For wines and spirits, the key themes will continue to be premiumisation, the emergence of non-traditional categories such as new world whisky, tequila/mescal and the ongoing development of themes around sustainability and of course the no/lo opportunity.
“Drinkers are making more informed choices and demanding innovation. Operators could definitely be doing more to recognise these types of trends. A more flexible approach, and wider category-focused initiatives could be real opportunities.”
“Lower ABV supporting the overall health trend”
Bo Madsen, Director, Global Travel Retail, Anora Group
“In 2024 we expect to see the trend with lower ABV supporting the overall health trend to continue, driven by the younger consumer groups, but also adapted by mid-aged consumers. This, in combination with overall focus on various sustainability aspects, will drive the agenda.
“Expressions where such elements are easier to implement, could be within liqueurs but also many kind of RTD cocktails and products. However, it will only work if you are true and transparent with your brand and communication. At Anora we have responded to these trends by launching several new vodka liqueurs and RTDs, for example within our key Koskenkorva Vodka brand, both for domestic and GTR markets.”
“Lower alcohol is a general trend”
Kensuke Suzuki, GM, Choya Umeshu (Deutschland)
“I think travel retail will continue to be a vibrant market. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) announcement, alcohol consumption is expected to be stable or on the decline. However, I guess it will keep a high consumption of valuable products. For example, value-added products, such as special editions, limited production, rare production, etc., will be a memory of the trip, so there will be demand in the travel retail market.
“Also, I think lower alcohol products are a general trend. Choya has an opportunity to ride these trends now as linked to WHO’s announcement.”
“Rising concern for sustainability”
João Gomes da Silva, Chief Commercial Officer, Sogrape
“Another growing trend in the wine industry (and others) is the rising concern for sustainability, which has become a powerful driver of consumer sentiment in recent years with wine drinkers saying that they are ‘positively influenced’ to buy brands that demonstrate environmental or sustainability credentials.
“One of the most obvious problems for wine is packaging as glass is an incredibly energy-hungry product to create, and bottles, with their shape and weight are inefficient to transport. This is putting pressure in many producers to use lightweight bottles, reduce packaging and use lighter, reusable, recyclable, and/or biodegradable materials.
“At Sogrape we are working on plans to reduce the weight of our bottles, even in fine wines. We are also pushing to eliminate or reduce promotional packs and gift boxes or move them to recyclable materials.”
“The growth of value over volume”
Gwilym Cooke, Head of Brand Marketing, GTR, William Grant & Sons
“I think there is a fairly consistent theme for a number of categories that we play in: what we’re seeing is category growth returning to almost pre-pandemic levels. Certainly, gin is almost recovered versus pre-pandemic, Scotch is still a little way behind but catching up, and I think the really interesting thing is the growth of value over volume. That is driving further premiumisation in malt Scotch. We see the same in gin. It’s pertinent in a number of categories. IWSR has some pretty sizeable predictions… the prestige-plus segment is due to grow double-digit in malt Scotch between 2022 and 2027.
“Obviously, there is considerable value as you move up the ladder. That is fuelling a shift towards people being prepared to pay a little bit more for the right proposition. If we can get the right product, for the right occasion, deliver on the uniqueness and find something if people are looking for a gift, we’re in quite a nice position from a WG&S point of view in the sense we have the expertise, portfolio and the stock. We can satisfy some of those opportunities. The really interesting one for us is growth of prestige class malt Scotch over the next three to five years and just how quickly that is going to accelerate. It’s going to be a really interesting space.”
“The return of Chinese travellers and a growing interest in rum”
Tim Young, GMAX Travel Retail Wines and Spirits Consultant
“From my own personal view, and based upon what we are hearing from customers, we are seeing a return of Chinese travellers. I think the number of Chinese travellers will overtake that of American travellers at some point soon and it’s going to be very important to ensure there are products that appeal to them at the locations they are travelling through.
“At GMAX, we’ve started working with Moutai Bulao, a traditional Chinese baijiu, which is very premium and absolutely huge in the country.
“From a GMAX point of view, we are looking to build the brand in GTR in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in airport locations where Chinese travellers are passing through.
“Another trend from a category point of view is that there’s a growing consumer interest in rum and experimenting with rums from different countries, ages and styles, such as molasses rums or sugarcane rums.”
“Consumers seeking a VIP aesthetic”
Yuriy Sorochynskiy, CEO, Nemiroff
“In 2024, one of the most prominent trends in the travel retail WB&S category will be the increasing demand for premium and ultra-premium products. Consumers are seeking not only exceptional quality but also products with alluring packaging, portability, that exude a VIP aesthetic. The introduction of LEX by Nemiroff at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes perfectly embodies these attributes.
“To capitalise on this trend, retailers should curate their product selections to emphasise premium options, enhance in-store displays to highlight upscale offerings, and provide a seamless shopping experience for travellers seeking that touch of luxury in their duty free purchases.”
“There’s big interest around the sparkling wine category”
Flavio Geretto, Commercial Director, Villa Sandi
“In my opinion, there is big interest around the sparkling wine category, especially exclusive GTR wines you can’t find in the domestic markets. Attractive packaging will continue to make a difference on shelf. I also see a very positive trend regarding small formats, such as 200ml bottles, sold both individually and in gift packs.
“Furthermore, interest in GTR is increasing in sustainability which needs to be communicated on the label. The raw materials used to make the products must demonstrate this commitment.”
A version of this feature originally appeared in the November/December 2023 issue. Please click here to read it in full.
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