A unique offering and retail experiences are crucial in turning millennial travelers into duty-free buyers in the Americas. This was the key takeaway from Tuesday morning’s conference session at the Duty Free and Travel Retail Summit of the Americas in Orlando, presented by research firm m1nd-set’s owner and ceo Peter Mohn and project and business development manager Anna Marchesini.
They addressed the behavioral differences of three generations of consumers in the Americas in travel retail—millennials, those aged between 35 and 55, and older consumers, revealing that millennials are much less likely to buy than older consumers.
“Millennials want to kill time and they want to be surprised,” said Marchesini. “Millennials want to find something that is not available in their country,” she continued, highlighting the importance of travel-retail exclusives and location-specific offerings for this consumer base.
m1nd-set research found that millennials are more impulsive when it comes to spending in duty free—63% of them decide to buy during their trip, a higher proportion than older consumers. Some 37% of millennials surf the internet when in the duty-free store, she said. “It’s not only about price, [they are] reading reviews on social media; they expect to find information from the brand, the retailer and their peers.”
“There is a huge potential for influencing undecided shoppers,” she continued. “We need proactive staff ready to answer questions that millennials have, […] you need to have compelling in-store elements and touch points.”
Mohn, meanwhile, addressed how to better target the all-important Chinese consumer. Some 54% of Chinese consumers enter duty-free stores when they travel, with a conversion rate of 95%, he said. “It’s the highest level I’ve ever seen,” he said. Conversion rates in fragrances and skincare are 87% and 85% respectively, he said.
Unlike travelers from the Americas, Chinese consumers tend to have already made the decision to purchase before they travel—this was the case for 70% of those surveyed, while 82% compared prices before shopping, and 85% interacted with sales staff in store, highlighting the importance of Chinese-speaking staff.
The top airport destinations for Chinese travelers in the Americas last year were Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver and New York in North America, and Mexico City, São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Havana in Latin America, according to m1nd-set. Chinese air traffic to the Americas is expected to rise by 3.8% this year, from seven million in 2018.
Overall, air traffic in the Americas increased by 5.6% to 478.87 million last year, and growth of 3% is anticipated for 2019.