How beauty has evolved in travel retail

By Sarah Cowen
How beauty has evolved in travel retail

For more than 20 years travel retail has been the jewel in the crown for the growth of beauty brands. The continuous rise in passenger numbers, increases to destination and profile mix, the rise of Chinese travel, a totally new generation of shopper, influenced and looking for experience led retail, add to a wide and well-considered product range for the audience, it’s all played a part in colossal growth for the biggest category within a booming industry.

The results however are not by chance, brands and retailers have worked hard to understand this global market. It was L’Oréal who famously referred to travel retail as its sixth continent, and led the way by creating a dedicated division, solely focused on making the most of this growing opportunity

As this trend caught on and all eyes turned to travel retail, the competition grew ever fierce, as the volume of new product launches began to increase, flooding the market, which made it a very competitive world and a tough gig to remain as a top performer retaining and growing market share.

Staying up to date with global trends has been key, understanding each passenger profile and targeting destinations with key product lines, even down to the exact shade of lipstick that a certain traveller will be looking for.

We have seen trends evolve with fashion statements from the Big Brow Look, Contouring, Instagram and YouTube Tutorials with influencers, BIG lips, initially inflated pouts now replaced with plump pouts, self-tanning and of course nail art. All these looks, treatments & products have evolved massively over the past 10 years and brands continue to launch the next craze of innovative ideas to maximise sales and gain market share.

Whilst the trends move quickly, we understand the importance of the marketing message, the communication, and the highly trained sales ambassador who is able to speak different languages, trained and experienced in knowing just what the customer from this destination will be looking for.

Dufry themselves created a role dedicated to supporting brands with this journey of market discovery, using insight data to understand who was buying what and when. Targeted campaigns for Chinese New Year, Moon Week and International Women’s Day came first, followed by an understanding of local markets and how these trends and preferences would be present in travel retail.

The challenge of course is space, how do you cater for every global market in one retail store? We have seen brand counter spaces evolve and pop-up gondolas with ever changing product ranges. Of course, sacrifices have had to be made, but where ranges can be limited in areas, we also have the wonderful travel retail exclusives and novelties; first chance launches, bigger sized bottles and exclusive colours.

The range in store is extensive yet reactive. We have seen Niche Brands and high-end luxury products launch, trends can change weekly and travel retail adapts.

For 2020 you can pretty much call a right off for the Travel Industry, obviously it was the year of the Covid-19 Pandemic and pretty much bought the aviation and travel industry to a halt, globally.

Whilst some business has resumed currently, it has been a key learning for all of our teams at all levels to find the safest and best way forward to facilitate the business, eg – face masks, social distancing, the ability to sell without having testers or sampling tools, but what it has demonstrated is what a diverse and skilled team we do have to adjust.

As we look to the second half of 2021 and the expected passenger numbers to rise again, we will be ready, and as the industry has always done, we will adapt and react to the opportunities.

Staffing is absolutely an integral tool to be able to compete with other brands within the travel retail environment. In my previous brand role at least 50% of the overall budget was invested in permanent and temporary staffing, it was clearly the most profitable way to see the biggest return on investment. The key objective is to get the right people, in the right place and the right time.

As a leading staffing agency, part of our new roles will be to educate our staff with all the changes and KPI’s from all parties involved so they have the tools to be able to still deliver the best-in-class customer service and experience. This ultimately leads to trust within the engagement, returning customers, generates sales to reach brand & client KPI’s.

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