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Incrementality and differentiation key to unlocking business traveller sales

Ever-present business travellers are more diverse than retailers might think based on a new study. Yet they share some key shopping traits: they are more likely than the average passenger to trade up – and they are impressed by a truly differentiated retail offer than they are by simple retailtainment.

These are among the core conclusions from CiR’s new report – The Business Traveller 2018 – which examines, in detail, the buying habits and behaviours of this important passenger segment. More than 2,000 business travellers were surveyed, with answers compared against a total sample of almost 23,000 interviewees. 

The study found that more than half of business travellers trade up to better quality products in duty free, thus creating a clear opportunity to drive premiumisation. “This share rises to 65% for travellers from Asia Pacific versus 41% of Europeans suggesting that targeted engagement from retailers can achieve incremental sales,” comments Garry Stasiulevicuis, Founder and President of CiR.

A bit more needed than ‘merchandising theatrics’

Retailers also need to foster differentiation over retailtainment when targeting this segment. “Due to the nature and frequency of their travel, engagement is not assured through simple merchandising theatrics,” notes the report. In fact, 56% of business travellers end up buying their regular brand.

Where a non-regular brand is purchased, 21% of business travellers are shopping due to the ‘new or different’ nature of the SKU. “This is +8% over-indexed versus regular travellers and suggests that business travellers have discerning tastes. Their high level of desiring something unique is counter-intuitive to regular merchandising principles,” says Stasiulevicuis.

Asia Pacific business travellers are even more discerning – for them differentiation is the second greatest motivator to purchase at 29% (good price is first at 36%). This means that store layout and innovation have huge roles to play in converting browsers to buyers.

Gifting is not an afterthought

The notion that business travellers rush through airport shops to pick up last-minute gifts for their families is also largely a myth – 25% of their purchases are made with gifting in mind which is a full +5% ahead of the global average. “These purchase occasions are planned as brand quality and international recognition trump the impulsive prompt of price-discounts,” says the report.  Stasiulevicuis adds: “Gifting is driven by quality, not promotions. Gifting is not an afterthought, but rather a planned action.”

Digital messaging is important

The Business Traveller 2018 findings also point to a direct relationship between frequency of travel and greater engagement with digital. Significant opportunity therefore exists to drive sales to business travellers by weaving increased digital use with unique, loyalty rewards.

Social media use (pre, during and post travel) is prominent amongst business travellers and Facebook is their main platform – with 83% engaging there. However, there are regional nuances: Instagram is prevalent amongst Americas and MEA business travellers, while Twitter is of particular importance to those from Asia Pacific.

“This offers an opportunity for retailers and airline operators alike to engage and promote through the correct digital platform,” says Stasiulevicuis. “Digital engagement and rewards – through targeted ad campaigns or cultivated hashtag marketing throughout the passenger journey should unlock benefits, such as loyalty discounts, or rewards on new launches.”

Given that price comparison and shopping in a web store are engaged in by one out of every two business travellers, loyalty can be engendered by repeated engagement with digital touchpoints. The report suggests that higher-priced categories are more likely to see digital engagement from business travellers so specific loyalty redemption programmes for these categories would encourage spending.

These are just a few of the top-line conclusions from The Business Traveller 2018. The report drills down into much more detailed aspects of this segment in successive chapters as follows:

- Who: Business Traveller Visitor Profile

- What: Business Traveller Visitor Purchases

- How: Business Traveller Duty Free Visitor Behaviour

- Why: Business Traveller Purchase Drivers

- Why Not: Business Traveller Purchase Barriers.

For further information click here: or please contact StephenH@counterintelligenceretail.com