Millennials and Gen Z show increasing appetite for travel retail, says m1nd-set

By Charlotte Turner |

Peter Mohn, Owner & CEO of m1nd-set.

Peter Mohn, Owner & CEO of m1nd-set.

While the bulk of shoppers in travel retail fall into the middle-aged bracket, the highest growth in purchases came from millennials over the past five years, according to m1nd-set, the leading travel retail research firm.


The percentage of millennials purchasing in duty free shops increased by 7% from 15% to 22%, between the period before Covid and the period after, while middle-aged shoppers grew by 6% from 47% to 53% during this time.


The number of Gen Z shoppers also increased, doubling from 4% in 2017-2020 to 8% in 2021-22.


In contrast, m1nd-set reports that there has been a steep decline in the percentage of seniors purchasing in duty free shops; falling 17%, from 34% conversion in 2017-2020 to 17% in 2021-22.


It is clear from this latest report that shopper demographics have evolved significantly over the past five years.

The research, which studies shopping behaviour across age, gender and travel purpose as well as across all m1nd-set’s signature customer segments, provides a detailed comparison with behaviour since the pandemic from 2021 to Q2 2022, to the 4 years prior to the pandemic, from 2017 to 2020.


Among the themes covered in the research are shop visiting behaviour and motivation to visit the shops, purchasing behaviour including shopping drivers, purchase planning and the level and importance of staff interaction.


Number of male shoppers increases; female shoppers in decline

Peter Mohn, Owner & Chief Executive Officer at m1nd-set, commented: “We have noticed a clear shift in trends across the various shopper segments since the pandemic and a growing interest among clients in this evolution.”


Male shoppers have increased their purchasing behaviour by 7% from 57% to 64% while female shoppers saw a 7% decline, from 43% to 36%. When comparing the travel purpose segment behaviour, the research reports no movement from pre-Covid to 2021-22 among leisure travellers, with 67% still purchasing in DF&TR shops.


Among business travellers however, there has been a slight decline of 2% from 34% to 32% purchasing in duty free shops.


In terms of the motivating factors for visiting the duty free and travel retail shops, having time to kill at the airport and convenience are consistently ranked highly across age groups, genders and travel purposes.

Time to kill at the airport was the number one factor for both Gen Z shoppers (27%) and Middle-aged shoppers (24%) while for Millennials the convenience factor was most motivating (27%) and the second most appealing factor among Seniors, also 27%. Lower prices are another important factor.


This is especially true for Seniors, 46% of whom stated that lower prices are a key appeal factor, the most significant among all appeal factors across all segments.


Price and value remain the key motivators to purchasing in duty free, the research reveals. Mohn explained: “Despite all the various reasons for shopping in duty free – the convenience factor, travel retail exclusives, the guilt gift, self-indulgence or a last-minute holiday souvenir, all of which are essential aspects enticing shoppers to purchase in duty free and travel retail, at the end of the day, price competitiveness and value for money are unquestionably the leading shopper drivers for all segments.”


Lower prices vs the High Street, in demand

According to the research, in 2021-22 lower prices vs the domestic market and value for money are consistently quoted across all segments, whether age groups, genders or travel purposes.


Good value for money is a particularly significant purchase driver for Seniors at 49% and Millennials, 34%. Convenience is also an important purchase driver for both Seniors, 36%, Gen Z shoppers and leisure travellers (both at 23%). Another common purchase driver in travel retail in 2021-22 is loyalty to the brand, especially for Seniors (30%) and Females (26%).


The research also analyses the importance of sales staff in influencing shopper behaviour. Sales associates have a significant impact on the decision to purchase and this varies quite considerably by customer segment as well as by region. The research reveals that the impact of the interaction has increased considerably in the wake of the pandemic as travellers set to the skies again.


“By understanding the behaviour among the various demographics and customer segments with regards to purchase planning, Mohn added “brands and retailers can adapt their pre-travel marketing and communications to the various customer segments accordingly.


“This is particularly the case for online marketing campaigns where the social media platforms and online advertising agencies today can provide highly targeted campaigns to very specific profiles.”


“The customer segmentation has proved extremely resourceful to many brand and retailer clients in preparing their consumer marketing strategies in travel retail” Mohn concluded.


More information on the traffic analysis research and airport, airline and nationality rankings can be obtained from m1nd-set by writing to [email protected].

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