HDH Retail & Consumer Trends mini series: The fashion of wellness part 2

By Luke Barras-hill |

As part of a new series of short blogs, specialist retail advisory firm Harper Dennis Hobbs (HDH) delves into prevalent retail trends of the moment to dissect and analyse how they could be applied successfully in global travel retail.

In the second of a two-part edition on fashion & wellness, Simon Black, Executive Director of Travel Retail at HDH contemplates the importance of personal health and wellbeing.

He looks at changing food, alcohol and beauty choices and puts the conscious consumer at the heart of the equation when considering how airport retail and dining operations can move with the times.

[You can view part 1 of the ‘fashion of wellness’ blog by clicking here].

Simon Black, Executive Director, Travel Retail, Harper Dennis Hobbs.


The days are getting a little warmer and the evenings are getting lighter and conversations with friends now focus on how we are all emerging, health-wise, from this long and dark period of enforced isolation.

There seems to be two distinct camps: the “I’ve made the most of the additional ‘me’ time and I’ve never been healthier’ set” and the “I ate and drank my way through it just to survive, and now I’ve got to get a grip’ bunch”.

Reader: I’ll leave it to you to decide which best applies to your personal circumstances. I know which one is me….

Whichever of the above you fall into, many people are looking forwards with the intention of following a healthier lifestyle and making more thoughtful choices.

The all-encompassing term ‘conscious consumer’ links to a variety of current trends, with sustainability underpinning the movement and the likes of athleisure and healthy eating moving it into tomorrow.

It was a trend that we all saw boom just under a year ago, as exercise equipment, Joe Wicks and smoothies became household essentials and so far it has endured throughout the pandemic.

The ultimate aim of this trend has been to live cleaner, healthier lives, which will have less of an adverse impact on the planet and our bodies.

With this in mind, the thoughts whirling around my head today are all about how this trend could change the path of many key categories in airports.

The rise of living well has been at the forefront of perfume, cosmetics and skincare’s rapid increase in sales over the last five years in travel retail and it has also slowly altered how we view food and beverage when we travel, evolving consumer tastes in future airport offers.


Rituals, a brand passionate about sustainable development, has built cult appeal among shoppers.

As consumers become more aware of natural products and the benefits they have on the environment and on one’s skin, so they will expect to see brands where natural or organic ingredients feature strongly within the skincare line-ups of duty free beauty selections worldwide.

Global brands such as Rituals and Aveda are widely found in airports and their commitment to responsibility when it comes to the planet and sourcing natural ingredients is legendary.

Many major brands are trying harder when it comes to sustainability, like Augustinus Bader and La Mer.

However, some of the biggest steps are being taken by smaller, niche brands such as de Mamiel, Tata Harper and Wildsmith Skin who may find it more difficult to get listed in the high stakes world of duty free stores.

A great leap forward would be to see some of the major operators devote even a small amount of space to some of the quieter brands who have a lot to say about how they are striving to protect the planet and our wellbeing in general.

The way we view what we put inside our bodies is changing too and our food preferences have also changed forever, with many people now becoming more conscious of how meat is affecting their bodies and the planet.

Consumers are becoming more conscious about the food choices they make, with global lockdowns prompting a greater move towards home cooking.

‘Veganuary’ in January 2021 had the most participants yet and we’ve made it through the first and second wave of Greggs’ vegan endeavours with its plant-based sausage rolls and steak bake launches – its aim is to eventually have a vegan version of every item on the menu.

We have all witnessed ‘The Game Changer’ documentary going viral with many starting to question if they needed to eat meat for every meal.

Since then, we have entered a pandemic pushing everyone into cooking more meals from home and people are looking for a wider variety in food.

Plenty of healthy cook books have since been released, with the likes of the Hairy Bikers releasing their very own vegetarian recipes. Who’d have thought?

All this has led to a continued increase in meat free and healthy alternatives, whether that be in supermarkets through the likes of Sainsbury’s new slogan ‘helping everyone eat better’ or through restaurants offering healthier or vegetarian and vegan options.

Even our alcohol choices are changing. Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcohol spirit, has seen phenomenal growth and has been majority owned by Diageo since 2019.

It won’t come as a surprise to most that we begin to see this trend continue to grow in our food outlets throughout airports globally, but will we start to see standalone meat-free burger restaurants? Or vegan Japanese? Or alcohol-free bars? Time will tell.


The exponential rise in the athleisure market and the untapped opportunity for travel retail was explored in the first ‘fashion of wellness’ blog.

Our thoughts at HDH are that we certainly will see that trends appearing on the high street, offering a wide variety of culturally diverse foods and a healthier take on the traditional F&B options, will come to the forefront of airport dining.

We are already seeing an increase in ‘healthy’ options across all UK airports, with a 26% increase on menu options seen in the last 5 years according to HDH’s database.

There is also an increase in grab-and-go units as airlines slowly reduce their inflight food offer and more people are expecting wider choice in the departure lounge F&B offer to carry on-board.

This is something that we strongly recommend airports consider when we are working with them on master planning their retail and F&B layouts.

No one wants to be limited to the airline trolley selection when you have missed breakfast due to an early start and the more easy pick-up options that restaurants and cafés airside can create, the better for revenues all round.

All of this is healthy and hopefully sustainable food for thought, as we begin to return to our gardens, parks, offices, and soon – all being well – our favourite destinations worldwide.

For more from Harper Dennis Hobbs, watch out for the TRBusiness May e-zine. 


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