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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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Why Travel Retail Needs To Connect With Millennials

Depending on which expert you listen to, Millennials can be generally defined as those born between the early 1980’s to around the year 2000. But with an estimated spending power of $1.3 trillion dollars, travel retail’s brands and operators must adapt to the needs and wants of this group as they become the largest faction of travellers and shoppers in our industry.

August 2015 | by Alison Hughes, Research Director

Millennials or Generation Y as they are also known, are the group of consumers that marketers can’t stop talking about. With most Millennials now in the work place it’s important for brands and retailers to recognise they now represent a big part of the market.

In our latest global study, the 20 to 35 age group that Millennials fall into, represent more than 50% of travellers.  And when we consider that more than 50% of all purchases of tax and duty free goods are made by shoppers in this age range, the industry should strive to understand their behaviours and shopping habits. Clearly, the importance and the impact that the Millennial traveller will have on our landscape cannot be ignored.  

As Millennials move towards their peak spending power, we must appreciate that they are different to the Gen Xers who we’ve been serving in the airport during the last couple of decades. They require different needs and have different expectations.  

A Different Breed

With many commentators defining Millennials as hyper-connected, confident, multi-taskers who are super tech-savvy, brands and retailers must learn to create greater brand loyalty and deeper relationships to make those all-important trust-connections.   

It’s reported that Millennials require brands to be more transparent, they have a higher regard for authenticity and take more note of corporate and social responsibility of the products and companies they engage with.  

With all this in mind, how do you connect with this diverse yet super-important group of travellers?  Having researched and read hundreds of tips for connecting with Millennials for our future project needs, here are 5 of our favourites, and those that we believe are most relevant to today’s travel retail landscape;

1.   Create Experiences

Millennials don’t like to buy stuff…they like to buy experiences. They like to buy things so they can tell others about it and because of what their purchase says about them. Brand and retail connections must tell a story and making connections through experiences will drive more engagement and a longer lasting loyalty. Every brand in travel retail has a story to tell. Tell it. 

2.   Fast & Furious

Millennials expect a service that is fast and efficient. Don’t deliver this and they’ll soon move on! Whether it’s booking travel, researching a product or buying on-line, Millennials will want to access information and services from multiple devices whenever they want, wherever they are. Our recent Digital study revealed that travellers use multiple devices to research and book their travel and that 72% will have a wi-fi enabled device with them at the airport. Brands and retailers need to ensure their platforms are capable of delivering against this demand.

3.   Be Very Social

Our recent Digital study highlighted that travellers use multiple platforms for researching their trip. These included Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter. Clearly brands need to identify the most appropriate social media platform to use to engage with their customers. But with new platforms being launched every day, this is not a one-off decision but an on-going process for brands and retailers to ensure they are relevant and up to date. Brands and retailers should be adopting active social media campaigns as a key lever to engage with their shoppers and consumers.

4.   Get Personal

Tap into the adventurous side of the Millennial. They expect differentiation, customisation and personalisation. This needs to be done for all aspects of communication and contact. Whether it’s content, promotions or brand communications, the expectation is this must be as personal and relevant as possible. With airlines having a relationship that lasts for weeks if not months with a traveller, working with retailers represents a great opportunity to identify preferences and service Millennials with the personal touch they desire.

5.   Always On-line

If a millennial can avoid too much human contact they will. Their preference is to engage with and use an automated process from start-to-finish for their transaction. That’s not to say they don’t always want to come and shop, but when they do they may well be just looking and trying for size before making their purchase on-line. Retailers and brands need to fast develop a joined up platform to enable this purchasing method in travel retail or else travellers may well buy elsewhere!

In Summary

Travel retail is a fragmented market. With so many different stakeholders at so many different points of a travellers’ journey, how can the industry best respond to the Millennial traveller who expects to shop in an omni-channel environment? For some brands it may be a case of making adjustments to existing plans but for others, it will require a wholesale change. Whichever camp you’re in, what is clear is that Millennials are a generation that cannot be ignored.

With Thanks

This article was compiled after extensive desk research, scouring many websites and reading much documented comment on the importance of Millennials on retail for a number of our up-coming studies. For more information on the CiR Digital Study 2015 please click here.