Diageo GT: Pandemic recovery ‘faster than expected’ in many markets

By Kristiane Sherry |

Andrew Cowan gave the trading update at the recent opening of Johnnie Walker’s shop-in-shop at Heathrow.

The pandemic “bounce-back” happened “quicker than expected” in many regions, although “travel as a sector is about a year behind domestic markets in terms of recovery”, Diageo Global Travel (GT) managing director Andrew Cowan has said.

Speaking to members of the travel retail press, including TRBusiness, at the opening of the new Johnnie Walker shop-in-shop at Heathrow Terminal 2 last week, Cowan also confirmed that Diageo GT’s business has “normalised” this year.

“Our business is now back to F19 [full-year 19] levels albeit with a very different mix and portfolio,” Cowan said, adding that Diageo’s domestic markets had hit that milestone in 2022.

He attributed the unexpected speed of recovery in GTR to a “massive build up of revenge spend”.

Most ‘cost-effective’ sampling in the world

Cowan also affirmed a strategy to drive trialling in the GTR channel, describing the opportunity offered by the travel ecosystem to reach consumers as the most “cost-effective in the world”.

“If you take the travel environment more broadly, so not just the airport but the airline and the whole occasion, it is the most cost effective way of sampling in the world,” he stated.

Diageo GT opened the new Johnnie Walker shop-in-shop last week

“So you would pay a marketing fee to get people to try a product, whether it’s a chocolate bar or a glass of whisky or, you know, a special edition Johnnie Walker. It gets very, very cost effective in these environments to trial people. 

“It’s not just about brand, it’s also about buying into the product that tastes delicious, versus having someone do a demonstration in the supermarket or something. And it’s also more immersive.”

At the same event, Cowan revealed Diageo’s Johnnie Walker had removed almost all secondary packaging across GTR, saving 183 million boxes.

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