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(formerly Counter Intelligence Retail)

We specialize in global traveler statistics, data driven insight, and activating against trends for all major categories sold in duty free and travel retail.

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Tailoring future trends to Travel Retail

The unique platform of travel retail provides brands and retailers with a chance to showcase exclusive products, customise experiences and even test new items within a focused environment.

January 2016 | by Julia Padgett, Communications Director

Whilst this is an ongoing opportunity, it’s important for the industry itself to be ahead of ‘today’ and focusing on ‘tomorrow’ to optimise these benefits, as well as remain relevant to each generation and type of shopper.

Future-forward online resource PSFK has detailed a series of imminent global retail trends by key experts. Its purpose is to highlight the latest innovations in the hope of inspiring the worldwide retail industry to take action.

Here is our take on these insights and ideas on how to tailor these trends for travel retail:

Enhance the path to purchase

The retail landscape is defined by disruption, with technology empowering shoppers at an unprecedented pace*. Recreating the online world’s on-demand service within the limitations of the physical store is perhaps travel retail’s greatest modern challenge.

Presenting travellers with tools and advice gives them the confidence to shop as they wish, which then allows them to create something that best-suits their lifestyle and needs**. In-store activities, such as guidance recommendations and product immersion, offer the shopper a hands-on, practical experience that is likely to increase the chance of purchase.

Streamlining technology services helps to eliminate any possible obstacles and saves customers time and effort**. By introducing systems like click and collect, or shop ahead schemes (particularly via mobile devices), the shopper can pay for products wherever they encounter them; this can happen anytime along the traveller journey using one-click payment applications, as previously reported.

Build better relationships

Opening the door to exclusivity allows retail to pamper the shopper in an aspirational experience**. Travel retail is already setup to provide customers with an exclusive setting, but teaming this with a concierge–style service takes this concept to the next level.

Etihad Airways has partnered with technology, consulting and business process provider Cognizant to deliver a personalised and seamless guest experience across all digital touchpoints. The project aims to define a superior digital experience to enhance the customer journey and to improve guest loyalty in new and innovative ways.

Digital advances also enable the retailer to remember a previous customer’s purchase history, or to determine a potential customer’s purchase intention via their online product searches**.  If this predictive service was translated into the travel retail store, the brand ambassador could aid the shopper instantly by knowing their spending habits, their favourite products and their purchase intentions (with the shopper’s permission, of course).

With this in mind, the shopper is becoming increasingly keen to take control of how their personal information is used**. Brands and retailers need to be more upfront about their policies and processes, as well as give shoppers the chance to opt in and out of experiences.

Create a valuable network

Collaborating with like-minded companies is a great way to provide the traveller with premium content and perks**. Cross-category activities prove popular in travel retail because it gives shoppers an introduction to a new product that is reassuringly next to the item they already know and love.

Chocolate maker Lindt & Sprüngli and wine producer Masi Agricola recently collaborated on an activation at Frankfurt Airport. The cross-category promotion aimed to educate travellers on how different wines complement a selection of chocolate flavours from Lindt’s Excellence range.

Virgin Hotels and GAP took this a step further. They hosted a cross-category and industry event that allowed customers in North America to reserve items they would like to purchase in-store from the comfort of their hotel room**. Inventing such a novelty, premium event is likely to cultivate sales because the shopper feels like they want to be part of this exclusive activity.

Building a responsive support network, with expert advice and tips from other consumers, educates the shopper and adds value to their experience post-purchase**. Instant messaging, video and artificial intelligence gives the traveller access to a real-time network of shared connections and knowledge. This, in turn, enhances the value of the brand or retailer in the eyes of the shopper.

Deliver delightful experiences

As more and more consumers trust peer reviews and feedback – amplified in the travel industry with sites such as TripAdvisor and – there is an opportunity here for the shoppers themselves to advocate brands and retailers**. Building on from the valuable network mentioned above, online community hubs for crowd ideas, feedback and advice could further enhance the travel retail experience. It could even act as an online marketplace to introduce new products and test ideas.

Unexpected perks and promotions offer a broader brand promise to shoppers**. Travel retail has all the tools to provide shoppers with invite only experiences and insider exclusives. Heathrow Rewards card invites customers to collect points and then choose the way that they spend their rewards; be it in-store, in the dining areas or with a selected travel partner.

Applying these retail trends from global research is an excellent way to help deliver a travel retail environment that will push creative and commercial boundaries, build relationships and, ultimately, allow the hyper-connected shopper to take ownership of their own experience.




If unspecified: CiR database.