By: Pepi Sappal   •   email:

Creating holistic and inclusive campaigns that successfully cover all travelling shopper needs, regardless of their age, nationality, culture, gender, etc is not easy. Confectionery giant Mondelēz cleverly used the holistic ‘Happy Holidays’ slogan for its Toblerone campaign to cater for several end of year celebrations, regardless of whether travellers were celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year. But most brands generally have to work much harder to engage with and win the loyalty of diverse travelling shoppers around the world.

There is much evidence that more brands are creating inspiring airport activations to tap into the emotions and needs of specific traveller groups to build loyalty and increase airport spend. Innovative campaigns linked to auspicious occasions, such as Chinese New Year or Diwali (the Hindu festival of light) are hugely popular.

Dewar’s 18YO Blended Scotch Whisky campaign, for example, which took place across 12 airports across Asia and the Middle East last Diwali, targeted travelling whisky aficionados. The two-month campaign focused on the significant increase in Indian passenger traffic during October and November 2018, with a stunning peacock (India’s national bird) display that gave shoppers the opportunity to not only take selfies to share online, but also light a ‘diya’ (oil lamp) and make a wish to mark the festival.

Bacardi GTR’s Diwali Dewar’s campaign creates an emotional connection with Indian passengers.


Vinay Golikeri, Senior Commercial Director of Bacardi Global Travel Retail, believes that careful tailoring of activations that inspire ‘’emotional connections that enable Dewar’s to resonate powerfully with travellers across Asia Pacific and the Middle East’’, are a must. Thanks to campaigns like this, demand for Dewar’s in Asia Pacific GTR is growing fast with strong double-digit sales growth year-on-year, according to the brand.

Beauty brands are also working hard to create new product ranges and ensuring that marketing campaigns are truly diverse and inclusive. In a bid to make beauty for all, L’Oréal’s latest True Match line offers 33 foundation shades to meet diverse skin tones, and its campaign features transgender, male and multicultural faces. It has also widened its selection of men’s products across airport stores, too (LINK:

However, satisfying the ever-diversifying travelling shopper demands, particularly those of millennials and younger generations, is more challenging. “This desire for acceptance whilst celebrating differences is a key driver behind the beauty industry as millennials challenge the industry to think, and behave, differently,” notes Lawrence Scott, Industry Advisor at NPD Travel Retail. He cites Shiseido’s WASO brand as a ‘fantastic example’ of a millennial-focused brand, where its authenticity and inclusivity is showcased in the diversity of their brand ambassadors, which changes the existing ‘perceptions of what’s pretty’.


Fragrances have also started to ‘break the mould’, adds Scott. “Coty has unveiled a non-traditional feminine Gucci Guilty scent, whilst Emporio Armani has developed a scent with ‘multi-cultural echoes’.”

Despite the increasing new product ranges to meet diversifying needs, many experts believe it’s still not enough. The rising number of vegans and environmentally-conscious consumers want more products with ethically sourced ingredients on airport shelves. Some brands (in both confectionery and beauty) are producing more vegan-friendly/Halal-certified products. It’s not that easy, as Toblerone recently experienced when it received shocking backlash from far-right consumers after the chocolate producer announced its Halal certification. So brands are undoubtedly treading carefully and progress is slow, given the complex regulatory framework to achieve vegan-friendly/Halal certification and labelling worldwide.

Nevertheless “gaps are constantly emerging in DF&TR for cruelty-free cosmetics, zero packaging strategies, #passonplastic and #waterlessbeauty campaigns, that need to be filled”, notes Nadia Emelyanenko, CEO of Moscow-based marketing agency Smart Project LLC.


Today’s younger global shoppers want these demands fulfilled and expect companies behind the brands to be ethical in the process. L’Oréal Travel Retail has responded to this need by making beauty sustainable across its business from product development to packaging. “Our sustainable initiatives include recycling 90% of our retail design and using eco-friendly materials, reducing air freights in favour of sea shipments, and they are resonating with everyone, whatever their age, nationality or ethnicity,” confirms L’Oréal Travel Retail Managing Director, Vincent Boinay.

Its sustainability message in DF&TR can be seen, for example, at Kiehl’s recent activation at Singapore Changi Airport. In this campaign, for every purchase of a Kiehl’s product, “we will donate SGD 1 to ZerowasteSG to help reduce, reuse, and recycle in Singapore”, explains Petrina Kho, General Manager of Kiehl’s at L’Oréal Travel Retail Asia Pacific.

Kiehl’s recent activation at Singapore Changi Airport highlights L’Oréal’s commitment to sustainability.

Compensating for co2 emissions is also a big priority. “Of course, we can’t stop travelling altogether, but we now only travel when it’s absolutely necessary, and rely on more sustainable alternatives like video conferencing,” adds Boinay. “We are offsetting 100% of our division’s business travel by participating in a forest conservation project, which involves planting more than 400,000 hectares of pristine forest in Morocco, Colombia and China.”
No wonder, L’Oréal has been recognised as a world leader in sustainable development, and ranked number one worldwide by the ethical reputation index Covalence EthicalQuote.


The beauty giant’s diversity and sustainability efforts certainly appear to be paying off. L’Oréal’s Travel Retail division recorded an impressive 27.1% increase in revenues last year, achieving sales of over €2bn ($2.3bn) – its best performance in more than a decade. Boinay believes “diversity and sustainability initiatives have been key to the division’s success”.

“It’s not easy and it’s a constant effort,” he admits. “But we will do everything possible to achieve sustainability in every aspect of what we do.” He also advises his travel retail peers to take the ‘sustainability’ issue more seriously. “Are so many TR industry events necessary? Perhaps attending fewer, but focused events is the way forward,” suggests Boinay. Certainly something for the DF&TR industry to consider.

L’Oréal Travel Retail Managing Director, Vincent Boinay.

Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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