TRMarketplace Keynote Spotlight: Meet Simon Kemp, Kepios & DataReportal

By Michael Barrett |

Meet Simon Kemp, one of the keynote speakers during the TRMarketplace Opening Webinar on Monday 28 September. As announced, Kemp will join Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operating Officer at Dubai Duty Free and Tanja Dik, Director of Consumer Products & Services at Schiphol Airport. Simon is Founder of management consultancy Kepios and Chief Analyst at DataReportal. 


Kemp is a renowned thought leader in digital marketing and produces the widely acclaimed Global Digital Reports series. His reports, marketing books and guides have a global following; millions of readers across more than 230 countries read his marketing books, guides, and reports.


Simon has helped to define brand and marketing strategies for many of the world’s most admired companies, including Unilever, Google, Coca Cola, Nestlé, and Diageo, and he continues to advise the world’s top marketers and investors on the latest trends in global digital behaviours. In addition to consulting work, Simon runs regular briefings, workshops, and seminars for clients across the globe, and regularly delivers guest lectures for top universities and organisations such as Google Squared and Hyper Island.


Ahead of the keynote session, in a Q&A with TRBusiness, Kemp was able to share some of his thoughts on ecommerce trends and spending patterns as well as the extraordinary evolution and importance of social media.


We’ve seen a sharp rise in e-commerce during the global pandemic across all age-groups and all world regions. What are the most interesting trends you have observed in this e-commerce boom in recent months? 

Simon Kemp: The rise in grocery shopping has been particularly interesting. Even prior to COVID, our ongoing research suggests that an increase in online grocery shopping tends to produce an uplift in ecommerce use overall. Our analysis suggests that this is because grocery is a high-frequency category, and – provided those grocery experiences are favourable – this more regular use of ecommerce results in greater familiarity and confidence. In turn, this results in a greater propensity to use social media for other categories, and also keeps ecommerce options top of mind.



It’s also interesting to see that older consumers have embraced ecommerce over recent months, with many of those newer shoppers saying that they expect to continue with increased levels of online shopping even after the pandemic has passed. Again, this is likely due to increased exposure to online shopping, and the resulting levels of comfort and confidence.


It’s not just older shoppers who have increased their use of ecommerce either, with people of all ages saying they expect to continue shopping online more frequently than they did prior to COVID.


Social media is here to stay, but we see new sites and services being adopted among younger generations for whom Facebook is synonymous with Black and White television in the 1980s. How should brands aim to engage across social media to reach their key audiences and does this strategy differ from region to region?


SK: I think many marketers are getting lost in the weeds when it comes to social media. There’s a huge overlap between the audiences of most of these platforms, which means that – much of the time – adding new social channels to your mix will simply result in duplicated reach and diminished ROI.


When it comes to paid media, marketers need to be a lot more systematic, and stop getting distracted by sensational media headlines and ‘shiny new toys’. To continue with your TV analogy, let’s think of social media as ’television’ overall. In that model, each social platform would be just another TV channel. Of course, the individual channel you use do make a difference, but most marketers now understand that they don’t need to be on all channels all the time. Rather, success depends on clarifying who we want to reach (our audience), and then selecting the right mix of channels to ensure the greatest impact for the smallest possible investment.


For organic activities, we need to take a slightly different approach. Enduring organic success depends on building a ‘following’, which will almost always take plenty of time and effort. Crucially, you’re very unlikely to have sufficient resource to manage more than one or two platforms well, and even if you could, you’d quickly reach diminishing marginal returns due to the audience overlaps I highlighted above. As a result, my advice is ‘fewer, bigger, better’: choose one or two of the larger platforms for your organic efforts, and then supplement this with paid activity to increase reach or to harness different creative formats as necessary.


What are the must-haves in terms of social media marketing strategies and e-commerce presence for travel retailers today in order to reach – and sell to – international consumers in the post-pandemic (or mid-pandemic in some cases) environment? 


SK: For me, the only essential “must-haves” are a good understanding of the people you want to reach, and a clear articulation of why they would be interested in what it is you’re hoping to sell to them. Everything else is just a means to an end.


Simon Kemp will address TRMarketplace attendees at a welcome webinar session on Monday 28 September.

No advertising medium or sales channel will ever deliver magic results simply because you have a presence. A good analogy here is that buying an expensive camera doesn’t make you a good photographer, but if you’re already a good photographer, a good camera can help you produce even better results.


The same is true of all things digital. As a result, I’d recommend marketers over-invest in understanding four things. Firstly, the change in results that they’re trying to deliver. For example, are you trying to get people to try a new product that’s just been launched, or are you trying to encourage people to buy one extra unit of a product that they already buy multiple times each year?


Secondly, who are the people you need to reach and persuade in order to effect this change in results? Many times this will be your actual consumer, but there may be other options to consider too. For example, could addressing spouses help inspire a purchase? Might you need to influence regulators instead of customers? What about retail partners and property landlords?


Thirdly, what needs to change about the way these people currently think or act in order for them to do what you want? Identify what your audience thinks or does today that prevents them doing what you’d like, and what you’d like them to think or do differently in order to achieve your objectives.

This can be as simple as “these people don’t know my brand yet, and I’d like them to know about it.” However, it could also be something much more nuanced, such as going from “I think $200 is too much for one bottle of whisky”, to “I’ll treat myself to this $200 bottle of whisky because I can now appreciate the difference compared to cheaper alternatives.”


And lastly, you need to think about what you can say or do to influence that change in your audience’s thoughts or actions. This is where creativity comes in though, and there’s no silver bullet or magic formula. It’s like finding love; the answer is never the same for any two people.


Also, it usually takes many years to change people’s underlying attitudes and beliefs, so don’t expect the world to change overnight after you’ve put out just one ad. Be aware that people’s behaviours and expectations will evolve over time too, and these changes will be influenced by every single experience they have, not just those experiences with your brand or your category. So, by all means do some category benchmarking, but you’ll also want to understand what’s happening in the broader world if you’re to meet and exceed people’s expectations. Keep track of trends in people’s overall behaviours (online and offline), and look for opportunities to improve the way you do things.

Top takeaway here: don’t get distracted by the tech. Clarify what you want to achieve first, and only then start to look at how tech can help.  Once you’ve answered the above though, I’d recommend digging into all of our free reports at to help you make sense of how best to bring your ideas and plans to life.


The Americas

Details emerge of JFK T1 commercial programme and duty free tender

Qualified travel retail operators are being invited to participate in a request for proposals...


Mondelez WTR launches Win a Diamond pop-up with Lagardère at CDG

Mondelez World Travel Retail (WTR) has unveiled an enhanced iteration of its Win a Diamond...

Middle East

JEDCO launches multi-category tenders at KAIA T1

Jeddah Airports Company (JEDCO KSA) has issued a request for proposals for several...

image description

In the Magazine

TRBusiness Magazine is free to access. Read the latest issue now.

E-mail this link to a friend