Confectionery Conversation: importance of pre-trip touchpoints

By Charlotte Turner |

In the eighth edition of this year’s Confectionery Conversation – a monthly column which shines a spotlight on the confectionery category, sponsored by Mars Wrigley International Travel Retail – Charlotte Turner looks specifically at customer touchpoints, making comparisons between trading conditions before and after Covid.


This column originally appeared in the August issue of TRBusiness.


While the news of ‘air bridges’ and ‘travel corridors’ has largely been met with optimism from the travel retail industry, none are under the impression that passenger traffic – and therefore the number of shoppers – will reach anywhere close to what should be expected during the peak summer season which is already upon us.


However, the number of online trip bookings certainly surged once new agreements were solidified between over 50 European countries in July. What is now crucial, in order to take full advantage of the few passengers that will be travelling, is that they are notified as soon as possible about the offers they can expect in duty free stores they will encounter along their journey.



However historically, confectionery companies have not been highly successful in grabbing the attention of shoppers prior to their trips, in comparison with those in liquor, beauty or fashion.

Can the confectionery category better utilise airport touchpoints to draw in more customers?.

Can the confectionery category better utilise airport touchpoints to draw in more customers?

According to m1nd-set research conducted in 2019, just 17% of duty free shoppers noticed adverts, promotions or other information via ‘touchpoints’ – which include anything from ‘discussions with friends’ to online promotions to billboard advertising or airport signage – about confectionery products before arriving at the shop itself.


However, the percentage was slightly higher for millennial shoppers. The three most important individual touchpoints were ‘discussing with friends’, billboards at the airport and the inflight magazine.


Concerning online touchpoints, ‘while booking the trip’ and ‘duty free shop website’ were highlighted above all others as most noticeable.


“Industry stakeholders should really advertise and make people aware of products at the time that they are really focused on their trip (when they book the trip for example), so they associate that product with their upcoming travel plans,” says m1nd-set.


Clara Susset, Director, Travel Retail Research, m1nd-set.

Clara Susset, Director, Travel Retail Research, m1nd-set.


Interestingly, as touched on briefly in last month’s column, sugar confectionery buyers (non-choc) are more influenced by billboards/posters, onboard advertising as well as printed media than those looking to make chocolate purchases.


When looking at all core duty free categories, m1nd-set data reveals that 36% of travellers are planning to shop more online now than before the crisis and that average online spend has increased 23% compared to pre-Covid-19.


These latest insights were first shared exclusively with attendees to the second TRConnect webinar, ‘Engaging customers across all touch-points — Physical, Digital and Human — in a Post Covid-19 Context’, hosted by TRBusiness in June.


“This really raises the question of what role online will play in the post Covid-19 world,” said Clara Susset, Director, Travel Retail Research, m1nd-set. “On one hand, online can surely be perceived as a threat in the sense travellers plan to purchase more online and less
at the airport.


“At the same time, there is a huge opportunity around pre-trip touchpoints, which enable travellers to browse products online and potentially pre-order. This opportunity exists because a majority of shoppers are planning purchases before arriving
at the airport.”


During the second webinar, participants – which included representatives from brands, retailers, landlords and distributors – were invited to take part in two polls.


The first questioned the importance of digital for companies in the post Covid-19 context and the second asked how soon companies will revisit their digital strategy.


In response to the first poll, 55% declared digital as vital for converting passengers. The second poll indicated that 57% believed their companies would revisit digital strategies within three months.

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