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New research reveals potential of better engagement with Gen Z travellers


Although current shopper behaviour among the young Gen Z traveller demographic does not show engagement or excitement with the duty free and travel retail offer, this is a clear contrast with their potential, the latest research from m1nd-set reveals.

Following significant interest among industry partners and stakeholders in this young, high-potential age-segment, the Swiss-based travel and travel retail research agency, has published a study which focuses on how these young care-free shoppers behave when travelling.

It is not so much their current behaviour in travel retail which are cause for excitement, m1nd-set says, but how this will evolve as the segment ages, matures and sees their purchasing power and propensity to travel increase and dominate vis a vis other segments.

m1nd-set owner and CEO, Dr. Peter Mohn explained: “In the same way that the industry has been Chinese consumer centric and focused on Millennials in recent years, it is imperative for businesses across global travel retail to have a Gen Z product and marketing strategy.

“Their unique behaviour, along with their young age and therefore huge growth potential – as only a small percentage have finished their studies – means they clearly represent the opportunity of a lifetime for the industry.”

Currently, Gen Zs’ travel retail shopping behaviour demonstrates a strong degree of apathy, according to the m1nd-set research. Gen Z travellers are generally less engaged with the duty free shopping experience.

They are less likely to purchase in store, and when they do shop, they spend less. They are also less likely to plan their purchases, and are less likely to interact with the sales staff. Gen Zs generally perceive the duty free shops as a place to visit to kill time before their flight, the research reveals.

Purchase planning is also less common among Gen Zs. Among those Gen Zs who bought a product in the duty free shop, two-thirds planned their purchase, which is significantly below the average of around 80% for all age groups, m1nd-set reports.

The research also reveals that only 41% of Gen Z shoppers actually purchased in the duty free shops, compared to the global average of 51% among shop visitors across all age segments. Average spend among Gen Zs is also significantly below average; only US$73 compared to $123 among all age groups, according to m1nd-set.

Gen Zs tend to be considerably less aware about the duty free offer; less than a third of the segment noticed touch points about the duty free offer prior to travelling, which is significantly lower than the all-age average of 47%.

Low engagement with the sales staff is also a typical trait of Gen Zs who are the least likely to interact with the sales staff in store compared to other age segments. Less than half of Gen Zs interact with the sales staff compared to the average among all age groups of around two thirds of shoppers. When they do shop, Gen Zs tend to purchase more out of convenience than because they had a specific item in mind.

Mohn contined: “The lack of excitement among Gen Zs demonstrates a low level of understanding of the value of the duty free shopping experience; this is understandable given that many will only be travelling as independent adults for the first time.

“However, as the segment increases in size and their purchasing power grows, the industry needs to be ready. Although Gen Zs currently represent only 9% of the travelling population, the size of the Gen Z segment as a share of all passengers has more than doubled between the pre and post Covid era already.

“The oldest Gen Zs are in their mid-twenties and already travelling and spending; or choosing not to. We need to ensure the product offer remains relevant and, more importantly, how we market the travel retail offer to Gen Zs adopts the right tone and reaches them where they are to be found.”

Mohn concludes: “It is crucial that we ensure that we get both the product mix and the marketing mix right to cater to this up-and-coming generation.

“Consumer marketing campaigns need to be associated with the appropriate personalities and key opinion leaders (KOLs). Marketers in travel retail need to reassess via which media channels they reach out to Gen Zs to ensure they communicate the values and uniqueness of the duty free and travel retail shopping channel with the right tone and in the right place.”

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