Peter Marshall (PM): Marco, welcome to Trunblocked.com. As we move into 2024, can we start this interview by identifying the key trends for the global travel retail industry as you see them?
Marco Passoni (MP): It’s a pleasure to be here, Peter, and thank you for having me. As 2024 begins, I firmly believe that travel retail has a bright and exciting future in this “evolved normality” which we are living in. But at the moment I fear too many of us are doing business in a safe, outdated way, which is out of touch with the needs and demands of the modern shopper.
The need to meet those demands in the right way is my biggest challenge for 2024 – delivering the perfect customer experience. This is a buzz term in the industry right now, but like so many of them, it is only being paid lip service. We must deliver an experience that is truly tailored for our consumers and, above all, unforgettable. This does not mean putting cookie-cutter domestic activations into a TR setting and calling them innovative. We must analyse the needs and demands of shoppers in every location and tailor everything to that – from the brand format, retail offer and shop layout, to the staff training and digital engagement.
The next key thing for 2024 for me is to see the industry finally reconcile itself with its relationship with pricing. Travel retail and duty free sets itself apart with pricing. In fact, the market originated and thrived solely due to the price advantage. For some reason, many travel retail stakeholders seem to believe that we cannot deliver price advantages alongside experiences, either because they are in contrast or because margin constraints mean a lower quality of experience (this is the biggest lie fed to the industry as an excuse to remain stagnant). That is simply not the case.