Travel retail has “roared back to life” says Mondelez World Travel Retail

By Faye Bartle |

Mondelez WTR

Left: Toblerone personalised sleeves. Right: Jaya Singh, Managing Director at Mondelez WTR.

Delivering channel exclusive experiences to the new wave of travelling consumers is laying the foundations for Mondelez World Travel Retail (WTR) to help fast-track confectionery category growth following the pandemic.

Jaya Singh, Managing Director, Mondelez WTR says the company is powering forward with plans to strengthen both its business, and the wider category in general for the benefit of all stakeholders, by drawing upon key learnings and observations made as the world continues to emerge from the travel downturn.

Singh delivered his assessment of the travel retail industry in 2022 as part of the TRBusiness Global Industry Survey 2023*, outlining how, from a Mondelez WTR perspective, it had been a “very positive” year.

“Travel retail has roared back to life and, as confectionery category leader, Mondelez WTR drove the category’s accelerated revival through an enduring commitment to delivering channel-exclusive experiences to move a whole new generation of consumers to travel,” said Singh.

“We had a robust summer across many regions, particularly in Europe, America and Middle East and some business restarting in Asia Pacific as well.

“We see a broad number of airports and border traffic pacing ahead of 2019 and we’re continuing to maximise the opportunities in the current top locations, while supporting others to accelerate recovery.”

Sales at top transfer hubs surpassing 2019 levels

In terms of what the company is anticipating in 2023, pinpointing passenger traffic hotspots that are playing a key role in bolstering its sales back to pre-pandemic levels and beyond is a key focus.


Toblerone is playing a category hero for the company.

“Traffic is extremely positive at key international transfer hubs like Dubai, Qatar, Istanbul and Amsterdam,” said Singh.

“In turn, we are seeing sales at a number of these locations surpassing 2019 performance.”

The enduring travellers’ favourite, Toblerone, is playing a key role in driving the recovery, according the company.

From Singh’s perspective, however: “Travel retail’s full recovery really hinges on the situation in Asia, and specifically China.

He explained: “The best potential growth should come from some Asian markets like Philippines, Australia and Hong Kong, which had slower recovery, as well as other regions that have already started their recovery in the second half of 2022.

“Outside of Asia, projections for 2023 remain very strong, with most locations expected to further continue to improve to levels greater than 2019.”

Connecting with the post-pandemic travelling consumer

Mondelez WTR is keeping its finger firmly on the pulse with regards to the shifts in passenger demographics and is acting accordingly.

Toblerone personalised sleeve.

The popular Toblerone sleeve printer has ‘ushered in a whole new era of personalisation in confectionery,’ says Singh.

 “We know that travellers are placing sustainability and innovation higher in their priorities than ever before,” said Singh.

“They expect travel retail stakeholders’ products, policies and practices to reflect a genuine and tangible commitment to sustainability.

“Equally, in an age where digitalisation has been accelerated by the pandemic, consumers increasingly demand innovation and technology across the online to offline offering and throughout the travel journey.”

To stay a step ahead, Mondelez WTR is “constantly innovating” to aid its own development with a view to maximising the performance of the wider category, and the travel retail industry in general.

“Digitalisation has become increasingly important for us; we have debuted many technologies for the first time in the channel, like the highly popular Toblerone sleeve printer, which ushered in a whole new era of personalisation in confectionery,” said Singh.

“Our in-store approach is about revolutionising the shopping experience through outstanding activations that excite consumers via digital engagement.

“This year we went above and beyond with our Cadbury Football Club global tour to deliver experiences that no other channel can.

“Each activation on the tour featured something fresh and new, including a Cadbury FC skills test and a world-first with laser-etching technology.

“We used this digital technology to create 156 exclusive Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars etched with one of the top six English teams’ football crests – a money-can’t-buy experience unique to travel retail.”

Cadbury FC at Qatar Duty Free.

A snapshot of the Cadbury Football Club global tour activation with Qatar Duty Free.

As retouched upon above, sustainability is a key component of the strategy.

“Our in-store approach is about revolutionising the shopping experience through outstanding activations that excite consumers via digital engagement.” Jaya Singh, Managing Director, Mondelez WTR 

“Most recently and over the coming months, we have launched an ethical promotion with our Cocoa Life sustainable cocoa programme and Child Rights International – a mobility project that gives back to the cocoa communities that are at the core of our products.

 “Today’s traveling consumers increasingly value experiences over products and delivering unique experiences and elevating the category beyond the store environment is integral to our approach.

“Our most recent execution of this is the first Oreo Café concept in an airport [at Hamad International Airport], expanding the confectionery offering into the food and beverages channel with something truly unique and memorable.”

A formula for driving accelerated conversion and success

Leveraging the universal appeal of the confectionery category, complete with high conversion rates, hinges on achieving a high visibility across the channel, says Mondelez WTR.

“From our own experience, unlocking cross-category opportunities, multiplying confectionery touchpoints, maximising the space at the cash tills, introducing winning new segments, and bringing more engagement to stores with amazing activations in spaces that were previously reserved for other categories, we successfully boosted conversion,” said Singh, referencing the company’s Delighting Travelers category vision, which launched a decade ago.

Cadbury FCadbury FC at Stansted.C at Stanstead.

A key part of the company’s in-store approach is exciting consumers via digital engagement.

“Today, the basket size of a confectionery shopper is double versus any other category shopper because confectionery buyers are most likely to buy from other categories as well,” he added.

“In our evolved category vision, we have identified three main areas where we need to increase our precision and speed to achieve accelerated conversion: a winning portfolio, to address growing need states and changing shopper preferences; elevating category awareness, through more physical and mental touchpoints; and delivering unique experiences, with outstanding and significant concepts.

“Only by growing the pie, growing the category, can we all win.” Jaya Singh, Managing Director, Mondelez WTR 

“But we cannot change the industry alone – the formula to drive accelerated conversion and success is built around three key things:

“First, we always focus on the needs of our travellers and shoppers. Secondly, we need to maintain a spirit of innovation and collaboration; we will have learnings to adapt to on the way to success.

“And the third, and very critical dimension, is that all of us need financially viable and sustainable growth. Only by growing the pie, growing the category, can we all win.”

CLICK HERE: To read the Global Industry Survey 2023 in full.

*The Global Industry Survey was conducted during November 2022 up until the second week of January 2023. Some of the views expressed are representative of individuals rather than their entire organisations. Some of the comments were also shared prior to China’s announced easing of travel restrictions from 8 January.

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