DF buyers in MEA deliver significant hike in conversion and purchase rates

By Faye Bartle |

m1nd-set MEA DF buyer research NovDec 2023

The latest insights into the profile of DF buyers in MEA, by m1nd-set.

The mix of duty free buyers in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is evolving, with a rise in the share of female, Gen Z, solo and business travellers making themselves known amid fast-rising conversion and purchase rates.

The shifts are highlighted in m1nd-set’s latest data (for 2023 to date) on evolving consumer profiles in the region.

“Duty free buyers in Africa and Middle East are the same age compared to 2022. However, the share of Gen Z has significantly increased compared to 2022 at the expense of middle-aged travellers,” said Anna Marchesini, Head of Business Development, m1nd-set.

Gen Z now comprise a 14% share, although middle aged travellers still rule the roost, commanding 42%, followed by millennials (33%).

“There is an almost equal share of men and women, although the latter has significantly increased since 2022,” she added.

“They travel mainly for leisure, however business trips have increased, and in economy class.”

With the gender split near equalising (54% males vs. 46% females), the share of business trips growing to a quarter (25%) and 60% of duty free buyers more likely to travel in economy class (as opposed to premium class), it’s clear that fresh dynamics are at play.

More time to shop as conversion hits 70%

The good news is that duty free buyers are allowing themselves more time to spare.

m1nd-set MEA DF buyer research NovDec 2023

Source: m1nd-set.

“They tend to arrive more than two hours in advance at the airport and this significantly increased since 2022,’ said Marchesini.

“Lastly, they mostly travel with their partner or family, however, travelling alone has significantly increased compared to 2022.”

While footfall has remained relatively stable since 2018 – hovering at 48-49% of duty free visitors out of total passengers, both the conversion (of DF buyers out of DF visitors) and purchase rate (of DF buyers out of total pax) has experienced a significant year-over-year hike.

Anna Marchesini

Anna Marchesini, Head of Business Development, m1nd-set.

“Footfall in MEA remained quite stable throughout the years,” confirmed Marchesini.

“On the other hand, both conversion and purchase rate significantly increased in 2023 after a dip in 2022. With a similar number of duty free visits, visitors are more prone to convert into buyers.”

m1nd-set MEA DF buyer research NovDec 2023

Source: m1nd-set.

Conversion has rocketed to 70% compared to 47% in 2022 while the purchase rate stands at 35% compared to 22% in 2022.

Another key insight is that the number of rational pre-planners has been on the up since 2022, rising from 22% in the 2018-2021 period to 31% in 2022 and settling at 27% so far in 2023.

Marchesini explained: “In 2023, two segment families experienced some significant changes compared to pre-Covid. On one hand, low income buyers decreased in importance.

“On the other hand, rational pre-planners become significantly more important compared to 2018-2021.”

International departures up 21%

All of this emerges against a backdrop of a rebound in passenger numbers in terms of international departures from MEA since around Q2 2020.

m1nd-set MEA DF buyer research NovDec 2023

Source: m1nd-set.

Following a bumper 138% boost in 2022 to 188 million passengers, compared to 79 million in 2021, this year is expected to see a total of 228 million pax.

This represents a more modest but still hugely encouraging 21% rise on 2022 and notably surpassing 2019 levels for the first time since the pre-pandemic era.

In terms of the airports welcoming the most passengers, Dubai International, Hamad International in Doha, King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, and Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv* are out in front.

*Feature compiled prior to the Israel-Gaza crisis.

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