TR Consumer Forum: Luxury, Hainan and Urban-Air Port on day two

By Charlotte Turner and Luke Barras-hill |

L-R: DFWC President Sarah Branquinho and ETRC Secretary General Julie Lassaigne discuss industry responsibility with TRBusiness Editorial Director Charlotte Turner on day two (22 Sept)

Duty Free World Council (DFWC) and European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC) offered crucial updates on their respective lobbying efforts undertaken in recent months on day two of the inaugural Travel Retail Consumer Forum (20-22 September).

DFWC President Sarah Branquinho shared feedback on the association’s responsible retailing programmes, revealing that the alcohol programme in particular was drawing 70-80 sign-ups a day.

“If we can start replicating that through the industry and can go back to governments and say 80% of retail staff across the industry globally are taking the responsible retailing of alcohol course, that is such a powerful thing to say,” she told conference delegates.


Branquinho told TR Consumer Forum delegates that a responsible retailing confectionery course is set to launch in November/December.

“As we go forward the industry is going to have to to demonstrate more and more responsibility; I don’t think it has been helpful that over the summer the media has focused on people wanting to go on holiday,” she asserted.

“Travel was also about seeing friends and family, people have been separated from their families and it’s been really difficult for people and some have lost loved ones durIng the period. I’m glad the media started to refocus from ‘people being irresponsible and wanting to go on holiday’ to thinking about the other things.

“That has a parallel now with our industry and how we are working. We have all the issues around tobacco and alcohol – neither of those have gone away – and now we have issues around confectionery. Where we are moving to now in lobbying terms is we are having to put the cart before the horse.”

Branquinho also offered an update on DFWC’s Academy certificate course and its new partnership with ACI World (more news on this to follow), while also reminding delegates of the new guidelines that have been issued relating to Covid-19 safety measures that have allowed for the reopening of so many stores in recent months.

ETRC Secretary General Julie Lassaigne then shared feedback on the association’s recent ‘Destination Summer’ campaign, which featured on social media platforms such as TikTok.


She told TR Consumer Forum attendees: “ETRC has been engaged all the way through 2020 to first ensure travel retail operations could reopen alongside the resumption of travel, and also to call on support for the channel as part of the travel ecosystem.

“The duty free label tested an online consumer panel of 1,000-plus respondents across four nationalities. Eighty-eight percent of travellers are satisfied with the platform as a means of accessing product information in their own language, 85% of travellers considered the platform to be easy to use.”

She also gave an update on food information labelling, sharing updates on upcoming legislation aimed at informing consumers on the environmental impact of products.

The Beyond borders: Regional and domestic consumer focus session, featured detailed regulatory updates on Hainan’s surging offshore duty free haven in Hainan courtesy of Kaiyan Dai, Senior Analyst & Commerce & Retail Group Leader, alongside m1nd-set’s exclusive insights on domestic shopping behaviours and attitudes.

Providing context on the pressures exerted by national governments on travel retailers and suppliers that provide travel retail product information, often in multiple languages to serve the multiplicity of travellers at airports and other channels, Lassaigne says a number of categories are now being challenged, from confectionery to cosmetics and alcohol and of course tobacco.

While stickering product packaging with information that complies with national rules has been a solution, it isn’t a sustainable one, delegates heard, particularly as many travel retail skus are designed for gifting purposes.

“At ETRC we’ve been working very closely with our members in the confectionery, alcohol and cosmetics sectors to try to develop a digital labelling solution,” continued Lassaigne. “Earlier this year we launched our digital platform called”

Available in French, English, German and Spanish, the plan is to broaden the number of languages available, with Lassaigne explaining that the pandemic has in fact quickened recognition of digital labelling solutions, both at a consumer and governmental level.


The next session, kindly sponsored by Diageo, centred on a topic which cuts to the heart of evolving consumer demands during the pandemic: sustainability.

M1nd-set’s Anna Marchesini set the scene for the ‘Lean and green: Sustainability, Health and Wellbeing’ session with exclusive data and insights on the increased demands and expectations of consumers when it comes to sustainability as well as health and wellbeing.

Exploring each traveller segment, Marchesini told delegates that consumers are more cognisant of manufacturers and retailers who place more emphasis on health, well-being and sustainability.

Noel Philips (far left) delivered key shopper insights in the ‘Lean and green: Sustainability, Health and Wellbeing’ session. Joining Philips was (clockwise from second left) Shane Kelly, Corporate Relations Director for Global Travel Retail & Head of Society in Europe, Diageo; Claudia Bustinza Bertran – Assurance Manager, Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC); Hima Patel, Consumer Insights Manager, Pernod Ricard; and Anna Marchesini, Head of Business Development, m1nd-set.

She also said that shoppers believe that a greater focus on sustainability increases the likelihood of purchasing from a brand and that according to m1nd-set’s research, shoppers tend to be open to paying 10-20% more in some cases.

In addition to Marchesini, the esteemed panel comprised the following: Shane Kelly, Head of Society – Europe, Corporate Relations Director – Global Travel Retail, Diageo; Hima Patel, Customer Insights Manager, Pernod Ricard; Noel Philips, vlogger, aviation expert and media commentator; Claudia Bustinza, Assurance Manager, Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC); and Anna Marchesini, Head of Business Development, m1nd-set.

Panelists discussed how the travel retail industry could succeed in drawing in the more eco-conscious traveller, while avoiding green washing.


Kelly reaffirmed that Diageo was continuing to build on a long track-record of ESG progress globally with its ‘2030 Spirit of Progress’ plan, focusing its action over the next ten years in three core areas.

These are carefully selected to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), promoting positive drinking; championing inclusion and diversity; and pioneering ‘grain-to-glass’ sustainability.

He also shared how the company is communicating its initiatives, while still remaining relevant to end-consumers.

Hima Patel, Customer Insights Manager, Pernod Ricard reiterated that Pernod Ricard’s GTR’s contribution is essential to reaching the group’s 2030 sustainability goals, one of which is reaching net zero in direct carbon emissions by 2030.

Peter Mohn presented a recent study of Chinese consumers during the Beyond Borders session.

Peter Mohn presented exclusive data from a recent study of Chinese consumers during the Beyond Borders session.


The next session, Beyond borders: China and regional domestic travel and shopping trends, addressed the importance of Hainan for the DF&TR industry.

With international travel restrictions, brand-conscious Chinese travellers have been flocking to domestic destinations, namely China’s own duty free paradise of Hainan island.

In this session, both the international and domestic travelling Chinese consumer were spotlighted, in particular, those travelling to Hainan.

In light of the exponential increase in duty free sales in Q1 2021 (+416.6% Y.O.Y growth), this session placed a special focus on understanding the behaviour and expectations of Chinese travellers who have recently visited Hainan Island.

The session also offered a broader perspective on domestic traveller trends, beyond China.

The panel comprised of Peter Mohn, CEO & Owner, m1nd-set; Trevor Lee, Managing Director, TravConsult; Sienna Parulis-Cook, Director of Marketing and Communications, Dragon Trail International; Kaiyan Dai, Senior Analyst & Commerce & Retail Group Leader, Industrial Securities; as well as ‘consumer in residence’, Noel Philips.


M1nd-set’s Peter Mohn insisted that the popularity of Hainan as a holiday destination will remain high even after international travel resumes, while TravConsult’s Trevor Lee – who joined the panel remotely – highlighted that Hainan could become an iconic destination for visitors from outside China in the future.

Kaiyan Dai from the Industrial Securities Co., Ltd., who also joined the session remotely, shared some fascinating data concerning Hainan’s offshore duty free market including figures on the luxury goods category.

TRBusiness’ traditional blend of live entertainment and socialising followed the conclusion of the consumer-voted 2021 Global Travel Retail Awards ceremony and gala dinner.

Dai said the share of luxury good sales in the whole of China has shifted in favour of Hainan in recent months while revealing that sales from the daigou business accounted for 20-30% of Hainan’s duty free sales last year.

Sienna Parulis-Cook moved the conversation on to Chinese Gen-Z during the session, emphasising that these travellers are less interested in organised group tours.

She also warned how it can be dangerous for brands and retailers to stereotype Chinese consumers.

‘Reshaping the Boundaries in Luxury Retail’ was the title of the penultimate session, which delivered on its promise to inspire and educate delegates on the future of this critical category in duty free and travel retail.

All smiles: members of the TRBusiness team captured with Toni McDonald, Retail & Marketing Manager at AerRianta International (third from right).

All smiles: members of the TRBusiness team captured with Toni McDonald, Retail & Marketing Manager at ARI-operated Cyprus Airports Duty Free (third from right) and Zoe Stylianou, Sales Manager at Cyprus Airports Duty Free.


M1nd-set’s Clara Susset set the scene with details on the profile of high spending shoppers and explained how luxury consumption has changed from pre-to post-Covid in travel retail. The panelists discussed these findings and shared their own invaluable insights on how the approach to luxury in travel retail will evolve from this point.

Diana Verde Nieto, CEO, Positive Luxury talked up the rising prominence of the re-world (re-sell, repair, rent) and the shift in interests from luxury products to luxury experience/travel.

Jonathan Siboni, CEO, Luxurynsights shared his thoughts on the evolution of luxury consumers and agreed with Nieto on the importance of the second-hand market.

Reshaping the Boundaries in Luxury Retail session featured Jonathan Chippindale, Co-founder and Chief Executive, Holition (pictured left); Jonathan Siboni, CEO, Luxurynsight (pictured top right), Clara Susset, COO, m1nd-set (second from left); and Diana Verde Nieto (third from left).

“Secondhand growth is mainly driven by Millennials and Gen-Z who focus on sustainability, affordability and uniqueness as well as one-of-a kind items… individuality and self-expression are also key values for Gen-Z,” he said.

Once gain Jonathan Chippindale, Chief Executive, Holition inspired the audience with his vision for the future of this industry, elaborating on examples of recent collaborations with brands where storytelling was at the heart of the digital studio’s brief.

“What are brands, but a collection of stories to be told,” he said.


The grand finale of the inaugural TR Consumer Forum was indeed a highlight for many of the delegates who attended in-person or via the livestream.

Urban-Air Port’s Ricky Sandhu joined travel retail veteran Keith Hunter on stage for the ‘Reimagining Travel: Where Hollywood meets reality’ session, sharing exclusive details and visuals with the audience.

Urban-Air Port’s Founder + Executive Chairman Ricky Sandhu (far left) and Chief Retail Officer Keith Hunter (second left) presented the company’s future for air mobility in a global exclusive at a live event. Also joining them onstage was consumer-in-residence Noel Philips, who took the opportunity to pose questions on the initiative on behalf of his millions of social media followers.

Hunter introduced the Urban-Air Port App to delegates, whilst laying out the type of retail propositions that could be realised in the next few years.

“We can develop a retail environment which is memorable, special and relevant,” he said.

Once again Noel Philips contributed the insights of his huge network of followers – as well as his own personal thoughts – during the session, offering invaluable feedback to Sandhu and Hunter.

[For a detailed report from this world exclusive session at an in-person event, click here).

“Thank you so much to TRBusiness for inviting me as ‘Consumer in Residence’ and guest panellist for this years TravelRetailConsumerForum,” said Philips in a Linkedin post.

“It was great to speak and provide feedback about the consumer experience of TravelRetail and hear the fascinating insights from m1nd-set.”

*In order to continue in our own sustainability mission, TRBusiness made the event as sustainable as possible. The programme was digital, not printed; the delegate bags were oxo-biodegradable plastic, courtesy of our sponsors, Enviro-point and Symphony Environmental; the sponsor pull-up banners were made out of eco-friendly recycled materials; the Travel Retail Awards trophies were made out of recycled aluminium; the badges were designed to avoid using the plastic badge holders and TRBusiness even sourced the world’s most environmentally friendly Vodka through our sponsor for Monday night’s opening cocktail [see images via the picture gallery below].



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