By: Christina Alcivar, Founder, Vane Airport Magazine
The COVID universe is currently bringing a world of rigorous health protocols to airports that is intended to ensure our health and safety. But what does this do for airport retail?
These rigorous health protocols make for an extremely challenging commercial experience. The overhanging and threatening nature of the environment works to the detriment of an inviting and welcoming retail experience.
One has to wonder how travellers will return to the kind of travel contentment and joy that enables legacy consumerism in airports. Their hopes seem to be limited to getting through it all unscathed.
Even people watching has become less interesting. Observing fellow masked travellers as they trudge to distant gates in fear of friction is just plain dystopian. The pursuit of happiness is not. At all!
The current COVID reality is decimating the traditional airport retail experience by taking the air out of an otherwise inviting and welcoming approach. The pivot will be to invigorate a comprehensive Wellness focus at all touchpoints.
Clearly, consumer interest in being healthy has never been higher. This requires an approach that is far more than an antiseptic focus on contactless transacting. While some products seem to sell themselves, barren customer service will drive consumers to limit their focus to absolute needs.
A needs-based commercial plan will be severely limiting. A commercial plan devoid of humanity is just a variation on the automat in its biggest and grotesque form.

Look to Wellness to understand the future of retail

While luxury brands have been leaning into Wellness for macro-trends shaping the future of luxury markets, how will luxury retail and duty free compete against newly-strengthened Wellness drivers? Compete or adapt?

Wellbeing is a heightened priority for travelling consumers. Post pandemic behaviours will change because people will have adopted new ways to survive and thrive. With less access to travel and holidays, the everyday rituals of self-care, health and safety have established Wellbeing as a top priority. Travellers will look to products and services designed specifically for safety and Wellbeing on their journey.

What is Airport Wellness Retail?

The purpose of Airport Wellness Retail is to demonstrate Wellness drivers are creating new opportunities in the rapidly evolving retail sector. Airport Wellness refers to holistic travel characteristics that enhance physical, mental and social wellbeing.
Airport Wellness Retail is instrumental in:
  • defining Wellness in terms of products, services and spaces
  • exploring the value and opportunity of Wellness experiences in both digital and physical airport retail spaces
  • anticipating Airport Wellness retail consumer needs and desires to support business marketing and operations
  • researching consumer motivation and drivers to experience Wellness-related products or services
Here’s a snapshot of some retailers who are shaping the future of Wellness and how they have incorporated Wellness into the design and roll-out of their projects.
Airport spas, napping suites, Wellness pop-up marketing and promotions, meditation and yoga rooms, gyms and activity spaces, athleisure brands, and more.
The ultimate purpose is to encourage a retail culture that takes a more holistic approach to customer wellbeing and embraces the grind of COVID.

Safe Product First

COVID has shifted consumer preferences towards Safety and Wellness products and services. Wellness is not new, but it has exploded during the travel shutdown.
How much of consumers’ new wellness habits will stick when airport retail fully opens? In this period of transition, ”Safety First” is crucial at airports. How will retailers create Wellbeing in their stores?

Airport Retail

Retail is facing a double whammy from COVID-19. One, make-up has become unsafe to try on in stores; and two, how do you touch merchandise IF it may be possibly contaminated? Duty Free luxury and cosmetics may become a downmarket alternative to shopping.

Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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