Convenience has overtaken value for money as the primary purchase driver in travel retail, new data from research agency m1nd-set has confirmed.
Detailed in the quarterly Duty Free World Council (DFWC) KPI Monitor report, 35% of shoppers cited ‘convenience’ as the most important factor to purchase from September to November 2022 (Q4), up from 15% in the three months prior (Q3).
‘Brand loyalty’ ranked the second highest shopping driver at 23%, up from 15% over the three months before. ‘Value for money’, although now in third place, climbed from 18% to 22% in Q4. ‘Suitability for self-treating’ doubled from 9% to 18%.
Just over half (54%) of shoppers said they interacted with staff during their last visit to DF&TR stores. This figure was 17% down on the previous quarter, and is almost in line with pre-pandemic staff interaction levels. In 2019, 51% of DF&TR shoppers said they interacted with staff.
The level of influence staff interactions had also fell, although overall it remains high. In Q4, 72% of shoppers who interacted with staff said they were positively impacted, compared with 78% in Q3.
Price comparisons a barrier to purchase
Higher prices compared to a shopper’s home market continues to be the leading barrier to purchase. 19% of shoppers cited higher prices, compared to 17% in Q3. Meanwhile, 16% gave a lack of promotions and an unwillingness to carry more items as reasons not to buy. Both rationales increased from 12% in Q3.
The KPI Monitor also showed a 9% drop in the number of shoppers exposed to a DF&TR ‘touch points’ – either online, through friends of family, or through billboard and print advertising. 41% said they had seen a touch point, compared to 50% the quarter prior.
Traffic recovery ‘looking healthier’
Global Q4 international traffic reached 76% of the same period in 2019, the KPI Monitor report indicated. Q3 stood at 70% of 2019 levels, suggesting an acceleration in recovery.
Asia Pacific was the only region seeing a slower uptick, with international traffic at just 40% of what it was prior to the pandemic.
North America stood at 86%, Europe at 87%, the Middle East and Africa at 95%, and South America at 97%.
The traffic data is compiled by m1ind-set in partnership with IATA and its air traffic partner ARC.
“The KPI Monitor reports on global shopper trends; the scenario will of course be different from one region to another,” said Sarah Branquinho, DFWC President.
“The negative perception of pricing versus the home market is worrying and needs to be monitored. While the decline in staff interaction and influence is a concern given the importance of interaction for shoppers historically, we are encouraged by the less significant decline in the influence of the interaction, although this nevertheless does serve as a wake-up call and sends a clear signal to the industry that brand ambassadors and sales associates need to be upskilled, constantly motivated, and encouraged to engage with shoppers.”
A warning against complacency
Dr. Peter Mohn, CEO and Owner at m1nd-set added: “The Q4 results on staff interaction is indeed quite surprising, as this has been an area where the response has been high, particularly since the pandemic.
“There is however a clear difference between regions, markets and individual airports when we delve into the data and study the impact of the various touch points by region. We strongly encourage airports and retailers to analyse the scenario at their respective locations to understand how they compare to the global index and where they need to improve.”
Branquinho concluded: “We need to ensure that we do not become complacent now that the worst of the pandemic is receding. Staff are essential to maximising customer conversion. It’s important that they are all made aware of the unique nature of the duty- and tax-free channel and its benefits.
“The DFWC Academy is the ideal vehicle for training retail staff so they grasp a better understanding of the duty free industry, the typical duty-free shopper mindset as well as what drives the customer to shop in the duty-free and travel retail environment and how best to communicate product benefits and USPs to the customer.”