Significant changes in post-pandemic customer segments, says m1nd-set

By Luke Barras-hill |

Swiss travel retail research firm m1nd-set has identified substantial changes characterising the purchasing behaviours of shoppers in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

The agency’s modelling uses five customer segment families to characterise typical shopping segments: ‘Local Touch Seekers’, ‘Emotional Brand Image Seekers’, Price Sensitive Shopping Lovers’, ‘Rational Pre-Planners’ and ‘Low Income Buyers’.

The share of Local Touch Seekers has fallen from 36% in 2020 to 20% in 2021, reports m1nd-set.

On the other hand, Rational Pre-Planners now account for 27% of DF&TR shoppers compared with 17-19% of customers in the pre-Covid period.

M1nd-set says this could be explained by customers’ heightened sanitary concerns as a result of the crisis, leading to lower in-store dwell times and a higher propensity to plan purchases.


Emotional Brand Image Seekers and Price Sensitive Shopping Lovers increased their respective shares between 2020 and 2021, both now accounting for 20% of all customers.

Meanwhile, the share of Low Income Buyers witnessed a gentle decline in 2021 to 12%.

The latest research from m1nd-set explores how shopper behaviours across these segments have evolved across the segment families, as well as by gender, age group and travel purpose.

Digging deeper into the data, Rational Pre-Planners are the most representative among all buyers in duty free shops with the exception of the Asia Pacific region, where the buyers are more likely to be Emotional Brand Image Seekers.

Delineated by age group, millennials and middle-aged buyers are more likely to be Rational Pre-Planners, while there is a higher share of Price Sensitive Shopping Lovers among Gen Z buyers.

Local Touch Seekers are most representative among senior-aged buyers.

Peter Mohn, CEO and Owner, m1nd-set: “It is important for the airport, airline, cruise or ferry operator and their commercial partners, to understand the proportions of each customer segment that are travelling through their facilities and visiting their shops.”


On a category level, Rational Pre-Planners are more likely to purchase tobacco, perfumes and alcohol than other segments and is the leading segment for electronics, toys, clothing & accessories, and jewellery & watches purchases.

Make-up, confectionery and skincare are disproportionately favoured by Emotional Brand Image Seekers.

Local Touch Seekers are more likely to purchase souvenirs & gift items and travel accessories.

Clara Susset, Chief Operating Officer, m1nd-set, said: “Shoppers behave quite differently in the travel retail environment and have a different set of expectations than consumers when shopping in the high street.

“Customer segmentation therefore needs to be adapted to the various influencing elements that are unique to the sector; elements such as excitement, stress, desire for novelty and expectations of differentiation and uniqueness. It needs to take account of these variables as well as specific attitudes to shopping, travel frequency, in addition to demographic data of course.”

Dr. Peter Mohn, CEO and Owner, m1nd-set, commented: “It is important for the airport, airline, cruise or ferry operator and their commercial partners, to understand the proportions of each customer segment that are travelling through their facilities and visiting their shops.

“Only when this has been analysed and understood, is it then possible to adapt the product selection and brand portfolio according to the customer segment families represented in a travel retail location.”

Susset added: “Understanding who the customer is and which segment they belong to is essential when designing the consumer communications, not least among staff in duty free and travel retail stores.

“The customer segmentation model has proved to be a highly successful tool in staff training programmes where staff are trained on which are the most common segments in their retail environment, how to identify consumers based on their segment family and then how to approach them, and which type of product and price range to propose.”


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