Mondelez World Travel Retail: ‘We all stand to gain by pooling our knowledge’

By Charlotte Turner |

In this exclusive interview conducted as a follow up to this year’s Global Industry Survey, Jaya Singh, Managing Director, Mondelez World Travel Retail and former TFWA President, tells TRBusiness that the industry has entered the next phase of recovery and that by ‘pooling our knowledge of the post-pandemic traveller, we all stand to gain’.

 

While reflecting on the developments of 2021 and sharing his expectations for 2022, he suggests that now is the time for  brands, retailers and landlords to build on the relationships ‘forged during the adversity of Covid-19’.

 

He also highlights that brands with a purpose and authentic story-telling ‘will win’ in terms of connecting emotionally with consumers.

 

How would you assess 2021?

Jaya Singh: 2021 was a true testament to how uniting and collaborating closely as an industry is the only way forward; not only in terms of navigating crises and recovery, but for the growth and evolution of our special travel retail channel. It was #StrongerTogether in action. Returning to the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes was a milestone that has heralded a new era for travel retail. We have learned so much during this challenging period; about our colleagues, our customers, our partners and peers, about our passengers and what truly matters them.

Mondelez collaborated with tree-planting charity One Tree Planted and a number of retail partners on an ethical promotion that supports travellers in making more sustainable choices when they shop.

Mondelez collaborated with tree-planting charity One Tree Planted and a number of retail partners on an ethical promotion that supports travellers in making more sustainable choices when they shop.

What are your expectations for 2022?

We are now in the season of harnessing our lessons to pave the way forward. Now is the time for brands, retailers and landlords to build on the relationships forged during the adversity of Covid-19. By pooling our knowledge of the post-pandemic traveller, we all stand to gain, developing products and brands that will appeal to these new shoppers, tailoring the retail offer to their revised aspirations and creating a fresh sense of excitement as people begin to cross borders again.

 

During the pandemic it has been noted that healthy spend per passenger has been a positive development since shops reopened. Do you think this is sustainable? Please provide reasons for your answer.

Mondelez has been working to establish snacking as a highly relevant and important new subcategory in the duty free channel.

Mondelez has been working to establish snacking as a highly relevant and important new subcategory in the duty free channel.

Yes, the trend could remain positive, but only if we are using our insights to effectively address travelling consumer needs. For example, at Mondelez WTR, we conducted extensive consumer research when the pandemic first hit and found that during times of instability, travelling consumers would be looking for brands with heritage that they know and trust, as well as value and promotions to address strain on household budgets. During the crisis, we reduced our assortment in the duty free channel to focus on our core portfolio of best-selling chocolate. Looking at the next phase of the recovery, we will continue to drive promotions that focus on these trusted brands.

How has covid changed your company’s strategy for the travel retail sector?

While adaptability, agility and constant innovation have served us well throughout the recovery period, Mondelez WTR’s long-term commitment to our partners and industry has remained inflexible. This is where our true strength and contribution lies. We launched our ‘Delighting Travelers’ category vision a decade ago, with the goal of growing the confectionery category for the greater good of the industry, rather than focusing on our own market share. Everything we do in the travel retail is with this in mind, and is integral to why we are consistently recognized as one of the top suppliers in the industry.

Do you think the travel retail industry has been more proactive in addressing sustainability concerns since the start of the pandemic? Which aspects need addressing most urgently in your opinion?

Yes; it is becoming increasingly important not only to our travelling consumers, but also to all of our partners in the industry to prioritise sustainability. 2021 was a seminal year for Mondelez WTR in terms of sustainability, which we aim to approach holistically. As part of a broader sustainability roadmap for travel retail we have identified a number of areas where we can leverage the power of our travel retail partnerships for the benefit of both people and planet.

Jaya Singh addressing members of the press at last October's TFWA World Exhibition, which was declared a huge success, given the extremely challenging conditions.

Jaya Singh addressed members of the press at last October’s TFWA World Exhibition, which was declared a huge success, given the extremely challenging conditions.

Our key areas of focus include the ingredients for our products, with 99% of our travel retail chocolate product portfolio currently using cocoa that is sourced sustainably through our Cocoa Life program. In addition, the majority (93.3%) of our packaging is already designed to be recyclable, whereas Toblerone has already achieved the 100% recyclability target.

Within the travel retail environment itself, we are tracking, upcycling and repurposing existing POS material to prolong life and encourage circularity while also innovating with new technologies to reduce our environmental footprint. In early 2021, we also introduced our Sustainable Design Scorecard with CircleSquare, which we shared with the wider industry to help inspire more sustainable practices.

 

The crisis has affected a shift in consumers’ perceptions of brands and services. A) As a company, how are you responding? B) What does the travel retail industry need to do to improve its competitiveness and appeal among consumers?

What we need to realise in our approach to this new generation of travelling consumers is that we are not equal in facing this pandemic, and that we will have varying new needs to address to engage this new generation of travellers.

Our research indicates that the average consumer age will drop, and that these will be more socially and environmentally conscious travellers and consumers [m1nd-set Global Duty Free Shopper Tracker, Q1+Q2’2021 Global Report]. Sustainability – already of immense importance – will continue to be key, while brands with a purpose and authentic story-telling will win in terms of connecting emotionally with consumers.

Our assessment is that gifting will remain the primary motivation for confectionery shopping, especially when people can travel and visit their loved ones again after a long time. Uncertainty and instability do not encourage experimentation though; therefore, the product portfolio should be focused around proven best-selling gifting products.

While we have our tried, tested and loved best-sellers to leverage, it is still important to adapt our offering to travellers’ evolving needs as well. For example, we have been working to establish snacking as a highly relevant and important new subcategory in the duty free channel. Globally, in domestic markets, snacking already plays a very important role in consumers’ lives: 6 in 10 adults worldwide prefer to eat many small meals throughout the day.

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