Take ride in my time machine Part II 

Happy Lunar New Year. What an important year this is set to be for travel retail. But before we go bounding into the future with all the grace and dynamism of the Tiger, let’s indulge ourselves one final time and fire up the De Lorean again. Strap in, set the date to 7 April 2020 and accelerate to 88mph because we are going back to CircleSquare’s very first Experiential Column from The Moodie Davitt eZine number 278.

Our strategy team had written a witty and informative piece about the power of experiential marketing in airports and the rise of omnichannel, ensuring our debut column would be punchy and memorable, setting the tone for our future monthly insights. The future looked bright.

 

 

What happened next not only rendered our new column hopelessly out-of-touch but would have also elicited that familiar exclamation from Dr Emmett Brown, “Great Scott!” The skies were devoid of planes, passenger numbers had plummeted, retail sales had evaporated, and we were all at home desperately trying to figure out how to connect to Zoom.

In the midst of this chaos, I reluctantly dug out a crystal ball and, despite the unprecedented nature of a global pandemic, made some predictions and some recommendations. So, given what we know now about the pandemic, just how well have those predictions held up and what does any of this tell us about the future?

There will be a decline in demand for traditional products as not only are there are fewer opportunities for travel retail exclusives, but also with significantly more investment being anticipated in omnichannel solutions, consumers no longer see a separation between domestic and travel retail channels.
Philip Handley
Executive Creative Director

A great example of retailer-led omnichannel experiences, created for DFS by Big Bad Wolf

Fitting then, that we should now be entering the Year of The Tiger after 12 long months of the Metal Ox leading us slowly and cautiously forward. There feels like a fresh new energy in the air. This year it’s the turn of the Water Tiger, typically symbolised by connecting with others, risk-taking and having fun. So we can expect both the breaking of rules and the breaking of boundaries.

It’s fair to say we weren’t the only ones who predicted the need for a breakthrough in omnichannel. Over the past two years the CircleSquare column has frequently championed the benefits of this physical and digital symbiosis, including launching our own Connected Shopper platform and developing multiple bespoke solutions for a number of our clients with genuinely encouraging results. For the industry as a whole, however, the uptake has been cautiously ox-like and this year demands a much more significant breakthrough.

The clue to where this breakthrough might emerge comes from analysing the results of the omnichannel projects we have delivered over the past 18 months. By tapping into the mindset of the traveller, one which is uniquely open to discovering new experiences and therefore, by default, new products and services, we have been able to use travel retail as a recruitment platform for domestic markets who simply cannot turn heads and generate new consumers, or brand switchers, like we can in travel retail.

CircleSquare has been lucky enough to develop ground-breaking omnichannel solutions for luxury heavyweights like Cartier, where high net worth individuals not only begin their physical journey in the airport, but also their digital brand journey, seamlessly connecting their interaction with the brand wherever they happen to be in the world. At a premium mainstream level, our digital involvement with L’Oréal has led to us delivering cutting-edge consumer connectivity with brands such as Giorgio Armani and Kiehl’s.

A purpose-driven journey: Two pop-ups from Kiehl’s, developed with CircleSquare, showcased sustainability and conservation initiatives through a series of engaging and educational retailtainment elements, in partnership with China Duty Free Group at Mova Mall in Haikou, Hainan in June 2021.

Centred around engaging consumers through ecologically designed pop-ups, our campaign shone a spotlight on endangered wild pandas and showcased Kiehl’s sustainable and conservation initiatives through an interactive and educational ‘panda jungle’ O2O journey, equipped with augmented reality and driven by a fully integrated customer journey created on a WeChat web app.

This highly successful approach of combining irresistible physical experiences and omnichannel connectivity reflects the changing nature of tomorrow’s passenger, something central to the findings of a fascinating collaboration between The Moodie Davitt Report and management consultancy, Bain & Company, which is featured in this very edition of the eZine

 

 

With an evolution of our typical passenger comes an evolution of how we sell, and also what we sell. Inevitably there will be a decline in demand for traditional products as not only are there are fewer opportunities for travel retail exclusives, but also with significantly more investment being anticipated in omnichannel solutions, consumers no longer see a separation between domestic and travel retail channels.

Historically, domestic markets and travel retail have coexisted in blissful ignorance of each other; a right hand not knowing (or caring) what the left hand is doing and vice versa. You don’t need me to tell you what could be achieved if these age-old, mutually exclusive markets could put aside their differences, overcome the challenges of working together and use omnichannel to facilitate a co-ordinated effort.

It’s my prediction that as we welcome in the Water Tiger, this will be a year of breaking boundaries. Let’s hope it’s the superfluous physical boundaries between markets and the technophobic boundaries of omnichannel.

*If you are eager to channel your inner ‘Tiger' this year, contact our team of experiential and omnichannel specialists and maybe we can break some boundaries together.

 

 

 

Read the original column in The Moodie Davitt Report here.