Nescafé Gold & Illuma enter travel retail while Smarties switches to paper

By Charlotte Turner |

During a press briefing held yesterday, Nestlé International Travel Retail (NITR) General Manager, Stewart Dryburgh said that the company’s decision to increase its presence in travel retail channels outside of airports three years ago had been a master strike in hindsight, as Dryburgh admitted that Covid-19 has hit Nestlé’s travel retail business harder than any of the Swiss multinational’s other divisions.


“We were under-indexing in other channels,” Dryburgh told TRBusiness during a one-to-one interview. “The business [outside of the airports] has been a source of relief and growth during this period that we are hoping will continue.”


Dryburgh clarified that Nestlé had increased its business in border stores, duty free and free trade zones, military and diplomatic areas across the globe. “We’ve been able to derive a significant revenue stream [from these stores],” he added.


“The regular day-to-day food/grocery purchases helped to offset some declines during this challenging period,” he said, whilst revealing that many of Nestlé’s brands outside of confectionery are now being bought through these channels, such as Coffee mate, Maggi and Carnation Milk.


They will also include Nescafé coffee and Illuma infant nutrition (milk powder), which will enjoy heightened promotion and exposure in travel retail (including airports) this year and next in the company’s bid to diversify its business and appeal to more Chinese customers in the case of Illuma; crucial given that the recovery of China’s domestic travel and tourism industries appears to be gathering pace.


During the presentation it was also revealed that Nestlé’s world-renowned Smarties brand will introduce recyclable paper packaging across its entire range; the first global children’s confectionery brand to do so across all formats.



During yesterday’s briefing, NITR was was keen to emphasise that it is gearing up for 2021 with ‘continued faith in the sector’s resilience and ability to recover’. Reacting to the latest m1ndset consumer insights, NITR remains committed to the category growth drivers announced last year to drive industry growth.


“Our industry has always shown itself to be resilient over the long-term, ”said Dryburgh.


“Identifying the correct growth drivers to meet the needs of the post-Covid 19 travelling consumer are critical to moving forward and our innovations for 2021 reflect this – notably the economic effect that Covid-19 is having on disposable incomes.”

KitKat, which has become an iconic brand since its launch in 1937, is now available in over 100 countries with accelerating growth in travel retail. It was therefore unsurprising to hear that KitKat will be NITR’s key strategic brand to drive recovery in 2021.


New KitKat Senses Tablets, which promise to offer a ‘delicious multi-sensorial breaks on-the-go’.

New KitKat Senses Tablets, which promise to offer a ‘delicious multi-sensorial break on-the-go’.

KitKat Senses has been a key driver of growth and 2021 sees this range extended with a new TR exclusive that meets the needs of travellers for ‘Uplifting Breaks’. According to Tamara Spada, NITR Marketing Manager, Senses now represents 11% of the entire KitKat portfolio in terms of value sales.



However, Spada said that NITR recognises that travellers’ propensity to spend has reduced since the outbreak of Covid-19 and that the company is adapting to reflect the new scenario by appealing to travellers looking to indulge at a ‘low out-of-pocket price’.


The solution? New KitKat Senses Tablets, which promise to offer a ‘delicious multi-sensorial break on-the-go’. “Available [from 1 March 2021] in three indulgent flavours, Caramel Crisp, Cookie Crumble and Hazelnut Crunch, inside each bar is a shareable treat with 10 rows of irresistible inclusions on a classic KitKat wafer, enrobed in a smooth milk chocolate coating,” said NITR.


“KitKat Senses Tablets create a complete brand portfolio with products available to suit any occasion within the Elevated Experience and Deeper Connections need-states,” explained Dryburgh.


Bringing the KitKat portfolio to life in 2021 will be the VIB Lounge concept initially introduced to retailers at TFWA World Exhibition last year and implemented for Chinese New Year 2020 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 in partnership with Lagardère Travel Retail.


Nestlé International Travel Retail (NITR) General Manager, Stewart Dryburgh.

Nestlé International Travel Retail (NITR) General Manager, Stewart Dryburgh.

Using the taglines #liveyourbreak  and @THE VIB LOUNGE, the lounge will be supported by new design FSUs and an updated KITKAT Bus with digital and non-digital versions to provide safe, effective and refreshing consumer engagement in 2021.



Sustainability remains a key motivation for Nestlé, and as mentioned above, Smarties will be the focus of its 2021 ambition to remove all single use plastic packaging. This year saw the introduction of the Smarties Travel Retail Exclusive Music Creator with a new carton box and digital content.


“This move is a great example of Nestlé taking the lead in sustainability,” said Dryburgh. “We were the first confectionery brand to use 100% sustainable cocoa for KitKat. Now with Smarties we are the first children’s global confectionery brand to move to paper across all formats.”


NITR will also be moving to start the roll out of recyclable packaging for all its travel retail Nestlé Mixes & Quality Street pouch and sharing bags during 2021. Nestlé aims to have 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.



Moving on to NITR’s premium confectionery brand, Nestlé Swiss, the company revealed that it had increased the size of its indulgent tablets, or ‘right-sized’ them for 2020 from 195g to 170g.


“Importantly, the ingredient level (nuts and fruits) remains the same, retaining the ‘bursting with flavours’ and indulgent perception,” added NITR.



The three existing flavours are now joined by Nestlé Swiss Dark Blueberry 170g, which was meant to be launched in 2020, but due to Covid much of the anticipated activity was postponed or cancelled, hence why the company will be re-launching this product in 2021.

The After Eight packaging features an attractive London skyline.

The new After Eight packaging features an attractive London skyline.

Moving on to After Eight, this year saw the launch of a London-themed travel retail exclusive design. Meeting a key Nestlé ITR driver for category growth – all year-round gifting – its success has inspired the introduction of four new limited edition After Eight 400g flavours for 2021: Strawberry, Dark, Irish Coffee and Orange.


“The luxury allure and sense of heritage around the After Eight brand is undeniable and we look forward to rolling out these new indulgent flavours in 2021,” says Dryburgh.


“They are sure to appeal to travelling gift buyers who want an impressive gift item from a brand that they know, trust and love.”



“We have gone to great lengths to ensure that our 2021 innovations are relevant across all category growth drivers, taking into account the changing pattern of travel,” he added.

“Innovation, however, is not just about confectionery. The category also encompasses fine foods and to that end we continue to present opportunities from across our group’s portfolio.


“It is therefore with great pleasure that we announce the launch of Nescafé Gold into travel retail for 2021. Launched in 1938 Nescafé has grown to become a global icon, to the tune of 5,500 cups drunk every second.


“This makes it a natural for travelling consumers and our offer will include product for all buying levels: premium, standard and value.”


Additionally, NITR is also planning to introduce a range of premium infant products under the Illuma infant nutrition brand to travel retail, targeting the Chinese consumer.


“Covid-19 may be having a most dramatic impact on our industry, but we at Nestlé believe in the future of travel retail and our category, thanks to the passion for the experience and discovery that travel brings to each and everyone of us.”


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