m1nd-set: GTR shoppers ‘more self-indulgent’ since pandemic onset

By Kristiane Sherry |

m1nd-set CEO Peter Mohn shares insights on Middle East and Africa

Peter Mohn, Owner & CEO of m1nd-set.

GTR shoppers have become “more self-indulgent” than they were in 2019 as purchasing habits shift, research from Swiss analyst m1nd-set has shown.

According to m1nd-set, visitors to duty free shops looking for a self-treat have increased from 14% in 2019 to 18% in 2023. 

Over the same period, those looking for a gift fell from 24% to 17%. This mirrors actual purchasing trends. In 2019, 43% said they had purchased with gifting as a purpose, compared to just 26% this year.

Self-purchases have soared by nine percentage points over the last four years, from 44% to 53%.

However purchases for sharing have climbed from just 9% pre-Covid to 15% in 2023.

Another major behavioural shift in travel retail has been motivation to shop. Browsing and “killing time” is the biggest reason in 2023. However the perceived attractiveness of duty free stores has soared from 12% in 2019 to 25% in 2023.

m1nd-set GTR shoppers purchase drivers 2019 to 2023

m1nd-set shopper purchase drivers 2019 to 2023

Price advantage has fallen as a reason to visit stores in the channel, falling from 26% pre-pandemic to 18% now. 

Research points to an increased preference for new and exclusive products, as well as promotions in 2023. 

GTR shoppers get younger

In addition to consumer behaviour shifting in the GTR channel, so too has the age of shoppers.

The average age of those who visit ships is now 40 compared to 47 in 2019. Those who make a purchase now average 39 years, down from 47 pre-pandemic.

m1nd-set shopper age 2019 to 2023

m1nd-set shopper age 2019 to 2023

The share of Gen Zs has increased to 10% (from 4% in 2019), with Millennials accounting for 30% (from 16%), with Middle Aged buyers losing a 3% share. The largest decline in age segments was Seniors, which now account for 14% (down from 30%).

Shifting category preferences

Both Food & Confectionery and Tobacco have seen increases in both visitors and purchasers since the onset of pandemic. In 2023, 36% of shoppers bought Food and Confectionery (compared to 31%), with 18% purchasing Tobacco (from 13%).

Beauty buyers fell by 5 percentage points over the period to 38%, while Souvenirs and Gifts shrank 10 points to 13%.

Total spend has declined 10% from 2019 to 2023, with Souvenirs and Gifts, Beauty and Toys contributing most to the spending crunch. Food and Confectionery, Clothing and Accessories, and Jewellery and Watches all recorded average spend increases.

“We see from the research that the perception of getting a good deal on new and exclusive quality products adds to the overall value proposition for consumers, when purchasing in duty free,” said Dr. Peter Mohn, m1nd-set founder and CEO.

m1nd-set purchasing purpose 2019 to 2023

m1nd-set purchasing purpose 2019 to 2023

“The promotions and special offers, combined with the exclusivity factor, create a heightened sense of value for shoppers.  

“When looking at how shoppers purchased exclusives items in travel retail, products that were on promotion or products they had never purchased before. We see that shoppers in 2023 are significantly more likely to do so than they were before the pandemic. 

”Much more shoppers purchased travel retail exclusives, a significant increase compared to 2019.

“The same percentage purchased products on promotion, 20% more than in 2019 and a high share purchased a product they had never bought before, also higher than in 2019, albeit with less of a difference compared to 2019.”

Data released by m1nd-set last month suggests passengers with children are more likely to visit duty free stores, make purchases and spend more than child-free shoppers.


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