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A review of the Tax Free World Association World Exhibition conference in Cannes. 

The global travel retail industry gathered together once again at last month’s Tax Free World Association (TFWA) World Exhibition conference in Cannes, where brand partners, duty-free retailers, airports, airlines, cruise lines and media were reminded what face-to-face networking looked like after a two-year hiatus. 

CEOs highlight recovery mindset

At the conference’s opening plenary session, a number of speakers kicked off proceedings with positive words and a pledge for the industry to join together at this year’s smaller but recuperative show, to support each other. 

TFWA President Jaya Singh said: “International travel is still far from smooth, but we are focused on what’s happening now. This year is a bit different. We are giving voice to many industry colleagues, with some missing this year due to travel restrictions. But we are here to share thoughts on the industry today and look to the future.”

Andrea Belardini, Global CCO of Dufry said Cannes this year is about showing signs of recovery, a return to normality. “I believe human nature is resilient, people have adjusted, as restrictions lifted people are coming back to travel, we can reconnect again. The trajectory is encouraging. In Dufry we have 70% of our shops open, corresponding to capacity of 80% of sales. We expect this year to grow our confidence in the market once again, plus sign long awaited investment plans. We will be sitting with colleagues to shape how the pandemic has changed traveller needs.”

L’Oréal General Manager for Travel Retail Worldwide, Vincent Boinay said the beauty giant is reaffirming its commitment to GTR during Cannes. “We have a solid fundamental framework for operating in travel retail. Five key points will drive our activity moving forward: the shift in consumer behaviour, we need to be consumer-centric; data needs to be shared among all partners, beauty-tech and services; creating new deals to optimise our business for everyone; beauty needs to be more sustainable, transparency for everyone.”

Bacardi Global Travel Retail Managing Director Vinay Golikeri, said Barcardi is taking a long term view to recovery. “We want to reinvent travel retail, being agile, focusing on the new digitally savvy traveller, there needs to be a transformation on omnichannel and digital strategies, reinventing GTR as an omnichannel marketplace.”

Max Heinemann, CEO of Gebr. Heinemann said business is in recovery mode. “Looking ahead means being aware of what the pandemic has taught us, from the business model to new retail concepts, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn how to develop our business with new traveller expectations in mind – from omnichannel to digital. It’s now about a freedom to travel, free movement, people have an urge to travel the world.”

DFS Group CEO Benjamin Vuchot said the pandemic had forced the LVMH-owned duty free specialist into making some tough decisions and it had tried to anticipate the magnitude of the crisis. “2021 has been more focused on rebuilding for the future. The industry is ready to reinvent, to challenge and put forward new propositions. There is a sense of optimism; the conference will enable new conversations. 

DFS CEO Benjamin Vuchot took part in a live Q&A discussing the retailer’s focus on digital 

“We are here to build back better. We are a purveyor of experience, it’s about digital. We want to start pre-departure communications through digital transformation. Travel retail is one of the only white spaces that hasn’t seen massive change. 

“It’s not cannibalising the travel retail shopping experience. The connection early with travellers cements the relationship, the excitement and the experience in the physical space is what connects you to them and especially for the next time they come back. This is why digital is important – to build long term relationships,” he emphasised.  

Industry support

At the event’s closing press conference, the TFWA hailed this year’s conference a success and noted the support shown from its industry members was cause for positivity as the sector recovers. The TFWA said there were 272 exhibitors across 263 stands and 3,408 visitors at the event – about half the number seen in 2019. On top of that, 35 exhibitors made their debut at the event.

“What a week we have had here in Cannes,” said TFWA’s Singh. “Thanks to the more than 270 exhibitors who have supported the event, plus the buyers, agents and landlords in attendance, we’ve been able to get back to business at last. The atmosphere has been overwhelmingly positive and it has been such a pleasure to see industry friends and colleagues reconnecting after so long. On behalf of TFWA, our heartfelt thanks to all our exhibitors and buyers at the event.”

The TFWA review video is now live.

While the overarching theme was one of reuniting with industry colleagues, customers and partners, the mood of the four-day conference was recovery and positivity. There was palpable optimism from exhibitors and retailers alike as discussions around returning PAX numbers, increased airport and duty-free store traffic alongside increased marketing budgets provided much food for thought. 

The travel retail community welcomed the return of networking at the TFWA Lounge on the beach

NPD focus from brands

Many brands revealed plans for new product development (NPD) and investment in travel retail exclusives to provide newness in the channel that thrives on limited edition product ranges. 

Mars ITR has laid out its vision for the future of travel retail and growth within the confectionery category. During the company’s annual Cannes press briefing, Mars ITR Sales Director Raghav Rekhi outlined three key pillars for the brand: to further develop its sharing and gifting offer; be a leader in the market for creating fun and memorable travel experiences; accelerate impulse at the checkout and beyond.

In order to fill these, the brand will be “bringing NPD back to the category”, Rekhi said. Mars will launch four new SKUs for 2022: these include two new M&Ms tablets – one is a new permanent item (Hazelnut) and the other is a Limited Edition Salted Caramel pouch – both represent the company’s belief that there is clear headspace for growth in tablets in ITR. M&Ms Salted Caramel and a Twix Salted Caramel bars pouch will also see focused marketing activity. Caramel flavour variants have performed well across global markets, said Rekhi and in consumer testing. 

Rekhi also outlined how Mars plans to convert travellers into shoppers by offering memorable brand experiences through fun and engagement, and by providing immersive experiences, picture moments and personalisation.

Mars held its annual press conference where the focus was on revealing NPD launches and consumer engagement strategies

Bonne Maman showed at the TFWA WE for the first time with a view to launch its iconic jam and biscuits products into the travel retail channel from spring 2022. 

The French brand is planning a number of premium products for travel retail partners – including sophisticated fruit pairings for new flavoured jams and a chocolate spread in medium sized jars, gifting packs of mini jams and luxury biscuits which will all be exclusive to the GTR channel. 

Xavier Sechet, Export Director for the brand, said the red and white check packaging is instantly recognisable and the product range is ideal to expand into GTR. “We have created dedicated POS units and retail furniture for larger travel retail partners. We plan to target the travel retail market in the UK and France first, then slowly, organically growing in Europe.”

Bonne Maman is launching into GTR with a premiumised offer

A new look for the colourful world of Ritter Sport made its debut in Cannes, as the German chocolate specialist launched a new packaging design concept for a number of new travel retail exclusive products and a reimagined merchandising retail concept. 

Jan Pasold, Managing Director Global Travel Retail said: “Ritter Sport stands for much more than just colourful chocolate. The new exhibition stand is the next step in combining the colourful world of Ritter Sport with our focus on sustainability. We have launched brand new paper packaging and in Cannes we are celebrating being able to introduce to our travel retail customers a new, more holistic visual merchandising and packaging design concept for our Travel Retail Edition offer. The retail units are colour coordinated in accordance with the different products. This more cohesive approach aims to position Ritter Sport as the most colourful, impactful and sustainable pioneer of confectionery in travel retail.”

Ritter Sport showcased its new paper packaging and GTR exclusives branding

Perfetti Van Melle (PVM) returned to Cannes this year with an expanded range of travel retail exclusive products from its stable of four confectionery brands: Mentos, Chupa Chups, Fruittella and Look-o-Look.

“We are back in Cannes to make winning plans with travel retail partners; that means having the right product portfolio, creating appealing and fun promotions and having best-in-class visibility tools,” said Travel Retail Brand Manager, Femke van Veen.

PVM was in Cannes to underscore its commitment to kids gifting innovation as well as on-th-go refreshment in travel retail with several new product launches, from the kids focused Mentos Candy Fan to the new Mini Mentos Pencil Case and the travel retail channel specific Mentos Jumborolls.

PVM showcased its high visibility kids gifting ranges

For Champagne Lanson being back in Cannes for physical meetings was an opportunity to underline its key brand pillars and to showcase its two newest cuvées – Le Black Réserve and Le Blanc de Blancs. 

At a media briefing the two premium cuvées were launched to press with cheese pairings that emulated a successful Champagne Lanson brand activation that had just concluded at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport after eight weeks. The pop-up achieved 12 times the sales vs the same period in 2019.

Champagne Lanson Global Marketing & Communications Director Guillaume Truchot told GTR media that the company’s goal is to promote the high quality of its Champagne and to demonstrate the value and versatility of the brand in the channel. 

“We have high-quality supply; high-profile production facilities dedicated to the diversity of our crus and have made significant investment over the last ten years towards the elegance of our Champagnes.

“Champagne Lanson operates with four key pillars: a large palette of crus, vinification according to the original principles of champagne, a great diversity of reserve wines and a longer time (minimum of four years) in cellars. Our wines are distinguished by their elegance, freshness, fruitiness and vitality.”

Champagne Lanson launched two new cuvées – Le Black Réserve and Le Blanc de Blancs

Miniatures have been a success story in 2021 for Henkell Freixenet. “Our global icons Henkell Trocken, Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut, and Mionetto Prosecco Orange are all available as minis, alongside many more of our sparkling wines. We have seen strong sales from our special mini multi-packs available in three and five bottles, especially designed for the duty free customer looking for 1L purchases,” said Christian Witte, Key Accounts GTR. 

“For example, we have seen great growth from our inflight partners; Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut (Prestige Collection) is served on board Ryanair flights and consumption has picked up in summer 2021,” says Witte. 

He added Cannes has provided a great opportunity for Henkell Freixenet to showcase its extended sustainability offer: “we now have a wide range of organic and vegan certified sparkling wines from across different global brands and product categories.”

Mionetto Prosecco has seen strong sales for minis

Laurent Perrier’s head of GTR, Jean-Christian de la Chevalerie said the last 18 months has been a challenge for airport and cruise retail sales, however business was now back on track. “We have seen increased domestic sales in our traditional travel retail local markets – business with our luxury hotel partners has boomed; it compensated for the lack of travellers and now we are enjoying a boost from consumers returning to travelling as they have pent-up demand for our products.” 

Laurent Perrier launched a new Le Blanc de Blanc Champagne in Cannes. 

Premiumisation was the focus for Accolade Wines as it hosted a media event on its stand during Cannes. At the tasting, a new Brut Elite sparkling wine from House of Arras was showcased alongside a Chardonnay and Shiraz from Hardy’s, which the company said is a top priority for travel retail, especially for airport and ferry retail partners. 

Accolade Wines held a press conference to showcase its premium ranges available in GTR

At the William Grant & Sons stand and bar, the focus was on premium whiskies and bringing to life some of the liquor group’s best known travel retail activations for new audiences.

The outdoor terrace area was dedicated to Hendricks Amazonia, there was a wall of travel retail hero products including Monkey Shoulder and Tullamore Dew and the meeting area featured a trio of Glenfiddich 22, 24 and 26-year aged whiskies. Cheers.  

Samsonite was back in Cannes to help promote its recycled-materials product ranges. Gert Weyers, VP Business Development of Samsonite said the company’s message to consumers is about investing in durability. The luggage and accessories brand want to be known for designing products for longevity and for its end-of-life standpoint across its products – whether they can be repaired, recycled or handed down.  “Samsonite’s next focus for travel retail will be about communicating our commitment to designing products for longevity in our stores,” said Weyers. 

Mandarina Duck showcased its best-selling MD20, Logo Duck and utility backpacks and style lines as in Cannes. The Italian luggage and accessories brand launched a more premium leather handbags line alongside its more usual metallic or neon soft and hard outer case suitcases as well as a new focus on functionality – internal organisation, three-way handles and easy to pack formats. The brand is expanding in Asia with new travel retail locations in South Korea and Japan. “We have new youth products that target Gen Z and Millennial customers; we want to open more travel retail doors in Asia,” said Silvia Rossi, Franchising and Travel Retail Manager. 

Mandarina Duck launched a new leathergoods accessories range for GTR

Pilgrim has recently expanded its travel retail store footprint with existing cruise and airport retail customers, while it has a new partnership with Aer Rianta International in Cyprus, Dublin and Canada airports. 

Pilgrim’s designers haven been focused on launching recycled jewellery collections – Leaf and Blossom will launch for Winter 2021 and Spring 2022 respectively and use 75% recycled metal materials. The Danish jewellery brand’s return to Cannes provided it with an opportunity to discuss future stand-alone stores expansion, building on its 33 stores in Denmark and four in Canada. 

“We want to communicate our message of using recycled materials and reach our target customers, who care about sustainably produced products. Leaf by Pilgrim carries its own store design, packaging – it’s an entire retail concept that we are rolling out in travel retail,” said Travel Retail Manager Louise Rhode. 

Pilgrim’s recycled jewellery collection will be rolled out to travel retail and stand alone stores

Wolford is back in travel retail with two new apparel collections – women’s activewear and a capsule men’s underwear range – in addition to the luxury brand’s mainline hosiery and shape wear collections.

Creative visual merchandising

Bally showcased it recent art installation retail project at its stand in Cannes. The Anne Marie Fischer Oak Force installation appeared at the brand’s global flagship locations in 2021, serving to promote Bally’s ongoing commitment to sustainability awareness in luxury, notably through its Bally Peak Outlook Foundation programme.

Bally showcased its Anne Marie Fischer Oak Force retail installation

Mondelez World Travel Retail chose to focus on its company-wide sustainability progress in Cannes this year – it showcased a range of digital interactions on its carbon neutral stand.

The confectionery company highlighted how it had offset its carbon footprint at the TFWA event in a collaboration with tree-planting charity ‘One Tree Planted’ to plant more than 3,500 trees.

By combining the production of its booth plus all staff travel, accommodation and delivery transportation, Mondelez was able to calculate its CO2 footprint. And, for each Toblerone 360g bar sleeve printed for visitors at the Mondelez Experience Room, another tree will be planted.

Mondelez highlighted its personalisation technology for Toblerone packaging on its stand, particularly popular was its new Gingery Orange flavour

In addition, Mondelez used its stand to highlight its new digital entertainment activations, which it calls the 360-degree ‘Digital Home’ experience. Videos showed how the latest activation for Cadbury’s FC (that is live at Birmingham Airport), allows passersby to stop for a selfie with their favourite football players.

The in-store activation incorporates motion sensor technology allowing stand visitors to experience all the features of digital in a contactless manner.

Omnichannel agenda

Digital marketing and exploring omnichannel campaigns were the two main focus points for many of Echolution’s conversations with brands during Cannes. 

“Echolution has secured new travel insights data partners that offer solutions for early pre-trip targeting via search history and in-transit targeting via booking tickets. For brands operating in duty free, programmatic marketing enables more personalised campaigns via key segments as well as demographic profiles.

“Cannes provided a great opportunity to open up conversations with new clients that are looking at how digital marketing can be more tailored to travellers in transit,” said Eamonn Leacy, partner, Echolution. 

Pairing passenger flight bookings insights c/o travel data partner ForwardKeys and traveller segmentation analysis, Echolution presented a range of category and location-specific campaign tools to brands. Adding in geo-location and omnichannel tools into the campaign mix means brands can tap into the travel retail trinity partnership to drive footfall into stores, and ultimately aid conversion among duty free shoppers. 

Echolution is now working on a number of programmatic campaign ideas, designed specifically for the wines & spirits, confectionery, accessories and watches & jewellery duty free retail categories.