Forum: Price, authenticity and storytelling ‘unlocks conversion’

By Kristiane Sherry |

The TR Consumer Forum panel on why consumers buy explored a number of drivers, including price and number of touch points. IMAGE: Grant Pritchard Photography.

Consumers will buy in travel retail thanks to a compelling cocktail of price and authenticity, with storytelling and an effective mix of multiple touch points critical to conversion, a TR Consumer Forum panel has said.

Speaking in Vienna last week at the traveller-centric event, Peter Mohn from m1nd-set, Virginie Bievre from Pernod Ricard, Morten Pankoke from Intelligent Track Systems, Nicola Andreij Rieg from Loacker and Sacha Zackariya from The Change Group all agreed there were different motivations and considerations, but common threads ran through.

Lower prices are a key purchase driver, Mohn conceded, adding that provenance and authenticity was critical, too.

He also drew attention to the role of the gondola, saying it was a “wonderful way to catch the attention of the traveller, tell a story, and interact with them.”

Regardless, “the basics have to be right before we do anything else,” he noted.

Pernod Ricard’s Bievre shared that the travel retail arm of the business ad decided to go “mobile-first” in an effort to upskill staff to boost conversion.

The recently launched UP&UP employee education app will train on brand an interaction techniques, with content based on behavioural science, she said.

It was all about making sure staff felt equipped to handle more challenging situations, for example “reframing out-of-stock products in a positive way,” she detailed. 

“With recovery, we see a higher demand for wanting people on the shop floor.”

Using data to get closer

Pankoke from Intelligent Track Systems, then made the case for using data to have a better understanding of what consumers are wanting to purchase and their shopping behaviours.

He opened by acknowledging the challenges in tracking users online, from Apple effectively blocking the practice for its users, to GDPR considerations. 

Solutions do exist though, he said. Even small subsets of data can be paired with algorithms and AI to get an understanding of what specific groups and searching for and what they need. 

Pernod Ricard’s Bievre spoke about the UP&UP employee engagement app. IMAGE: Grant Pritchard Photography

For him, it’s about using the insights to deliver the “right content at the right place at the right time”.

“Airports are the perfect micro-environment,” he explained. “We know exactly when you arrive, when you leave.” 

Data could then be used to move “seamlessly” between digital and physical interactions, he continued. 

Boarding passes alone give you a tremendous amount of data, he said. Pernod Ricard’s Bievre added that the data can be used to create a touch point “layering effect” to become more powerful.

Sustainability still a purchasing decision

Rieg from confectioner Loacker then made the case for sustainability being a purchasing driver with the category. 

The business is working at climate neutrality, he said, with a specific focus on developing more sustainable packaging.

A major move was to move to paper pouches, a development he said saw sales increase by over 100%.

“There’s a direct correlation between sales and the launch of the new paper pouch,” he stressed. “Sustainability really matters.”

The Change Group’s Zackariya rounded off the final session of the conference with a run-down of trends in consumer engagement.

The panel agreed that there were many touch points to purchase. IMAGE: Grant Pritchard Photography

Hospitality in the travel retail space was all about “refuelling and connecting people”, he said, with AI “driving consumer behaviour already”.

He also shared an interesting insight into the use of cash. While tap and pay – both mobile and contactless – is critical in domestic market transactions, as people travel further they tend to use cash, he noted.

Both Zackariya and Bievre concluded with remarks that both personalisation and storytelling were key elements to drive purchase. 

Coverage of the TR Consumer Forum continues online. 

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