Hong Kong leads international average passenger spend: m1nd-set

By Kristiane Sherry |

Europe air traffic shows positive signs

m1nd-set’s Peter Mohn has stressed that airport spend levels and shopping preferences shift depending on passenger profile.

Hong Kong International is the “clear winner” when it comes to average passenger spend among the five largest airports by international arrivals, new data from analyst m1nd-set shows.

Key categories driving spend in Hong Kong include jewellery and watches, and makeup and skincare.

The major Asia hub was ranked ahead of Singapore Changi, Dubai, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and London Heathrow when the average passenger spend was ranked by all categories.

Yet when ranked by foreign international arrivals, Heathrow is forecast to take the top spot with 30.4 million foreign passengers in 2024.

The data is based on m1nd-set’s subscription-based Business 1ntelligence Service (B1A) which is developed in partnership with IATA.

By international foreign arrivals (with home country traffic deliberately excluded), Dubai ranks second with 26.2m foreign arrivals forecast for the year ahead. 

Singapore Changi Airport will attract just under 26.2m passengers, ahead of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and then Hong Kong,

The remainder of the top 10 includes Paris Charles de Gaulle,  Barcelona, Seoul Incheon, Amsterdam Schiphol and Tokyo Narita. 

India tops international passenger mix

As expected, the nationality breakdown varies by location. The US dominates Heathrow’s arrivals, accounting for a 22% share with 6.8m. Arrivals from India, the second largest demographic, numbers less than 3.4m.

m1nd-set top three airports by international passenger arrivals

m1nd-set’s top three airports by international passenger arrivals

Indian passengers are enormously important across all the airports. The country retains the top spot in Dubai, with 26.2m foreign international arrivals, three times that of Pakistan, which ranks second.

Passengers from India also rank top in Singapore, where they account for almost a quarter of all international arrivals, and double that of Indonesia in second place. 

m1nd-set data shows top airports by international passenger arrivals

m1nd-set data shows top airports by international passenger arrivals.

More than 3.3m passengers from India will land in Bangkok next year, a 12.9% share of the passenger mix. Singapore and South Korea follow in second and third place. 

In Hong Kong, The Philippines will be the biggest source market with 3.6m arrivals. China, Indonesia, Thailand and the US follow in the rankings. 

International average passenger spend trends

Hong Kong is ahead of the others when it comes to passenger retail spend, promotions and touch points, m1nd-set said.

Singapore and Dubai are benefiting from high traction in the jewellery and watches category, the data shows. 

While Bangkok benefitted from spend across multiple categories, London’s Heathrow is lagging behind. (Spend per passenger fell in the airport’s latest financial report.)

Promotions attracted 72% of shoppers in Dubai, 63% in Singapore, and 76% in Hong Kong. This compares to 56% of passengers who brought at least one item on promotion in London, and 52% in Bangkok. 

How passengers at the top five airports engage with staff international average passenger spend

How passengers at the top five airports engage with staff

With the exception of Hong Kong, less than half of shoppers noticed or engaged with duty free touchpoints in the airport spaces. 

In Hong Kong, 63% of shoppers said they noticed touch points, compared to 40% in Bangkok, 37% in Dubai, 36% in Singapore and just 17% at Heathrow. 

“Given the low propensity of shoppers to notice touch points about the duty free offer at airports, there is clearly progress to be made in terms of communication to consumers,” m1nd-set noted.  

The most recollected touch points include internet searches, brand websites, online advertising, billboards, social media and promo activity from brands. 

Shopper behaviour and passenger profile

“To ensure the retail and commercial mix as well as special promotions throughout the year consider the various key customer segments, it is imperative to understand which nationalities, aside from returning nationals, will make up the majority of the international arrivals at these major international hub airports in 2024,” said m1nd-set owner and CEO, Peter Mohn.

“We then analyse and breakdown the specific shopper behaviour at each of these top five airports looking at footfall, purchase and conversion rates, categories visited and purchased, share of wallet by category, planning behaviour, barriers and drivers to purchase, as well as interaction with touch points and promotions among other aspects of shopper behaviour.”

Peter Mohn speaking at this year's TR Consumer Forum

Peter Mohn speaking at this year’s TR Consumer Forum

Mohn continued: “Spend levels and shopping preferences are extremely dependent on an airport’s passenger profile and provenance. 

“The profile and source market also means there can be strong variations  in shoppers’ tendency to interact and engage with staff, or even search for information online. 

“The purchase power, type of travel and destination are all variables that will impact the shopper behaviour regardless of nationality, creating multiple shopper segments within that same nationality. 

“This in turn defines and explains the very different shopper behaviour of an Indian or Chinese consumer for example, when shopping in Europe, North America or South East Asia.”

Heathrow’s latest financial results show that spend per passenger shrank 7.4% over the nine months to 30 September 2023.

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