Asia Duty Free & Travel Retailing - Hainan Special Edition June 2021

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A Leader in The Global Fashion Watch Industry for Over 65 Years.

Hainan invests on becoming top shopping destination p. 14  i2i Group's CEO says to prepare for Chinese travel tide p. 18  Jaidee Duty Free tackles challenges head on p. 30


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Letter from the Editor



hat a time we have been living in. Our industry has seen no lower depths than we have over the past year, with our entire reality upended. At the end of 2019 international travel and thus travel retail were set for a banner year ahead, with expectations of over 5% growth. By the end of 2020 we were instead looking at numbers ranging from -60% all the way down to -95% and in some cases, -100% sales. But we don’t need to remind you of these unheard-of negative results; while recovery is not around the corner, there are clear signs it is on the horizon, and Hainan’s light is leading the way. China was the first country to show strong domestic recovery, with Hainan showing even greater numbers than in 2019. Add to this the mandate to make the province a travel, tourism and duty free mecca in addition to the willingness on the part of the Chinese government to allow partnerships with foreign companies in order to make this happen, and Hainan has truly been a beacon in these trouble times. But Hainan is not the only story. While at the beginning of the pandemic we were warned that a vaccine would be a minimum of 18 months away, within nine months we actually had a selection to choose from. Those vaccines are being administered in full force, with many countries over 60% vaccinated, and the number of daily cases dropping rapidly in turn. Though some countries — namely India and Brazil — are still in full battle mode, the rest of us have loosening restrictions and the hope of a return to normality within months. It is with this hope that TFWA has announced the cautious return of a live event for TFWA WE this year. The date has been moved a bit later on in hopes that the extra few weeks brings further vaccinations and with them a further loosening of border restrictions, not to mention health safety, allowing more delegates to attend. They say challenging times bring with them lessons, and certainly this is the case with 2020 and 2021 so far. We’ve learned that we can work a different way, not just because we’ve been holding more zoom meetings and traveling less, but also working in a way that puts our families’ health and well-being at the forefront of considerations. We’ve learned that the many arms of our industry truly do rely on each other for success, and are more willing than ever to work together to accomplish their collective goals. We’ve learned that while we are capable of working from our homes and visiting relatives via computer, there really is nothing like face-to-face interaction. We humans need contact. It is this reality that will make Cannes 2021 and future trade shows/exhibitions a roaring success, and it is this reality that will bring our industry back to former levels and beyond. The world is itching to travel again. Humanity is missing spending time with loved ones; they are missing the chance to see other lands and experience other cultures. As borders open up and flights return, travelers will be there chomping at the bit to return as well, and shopping will be an undoubtedly important part of these upcoming journeys. We look forward to seeing you in person soon as our new journey begins. Kindest Regards,


NOVEMBER 2020 · TFWA AP · VOL 25 · NO 1 Asia Duty Free & Travel Retailing magazine (ISSN 0962-0699) is published four times a year April, June, October and November by Global Marketing Company. It is distributed throughout Central America, South America, the United States, Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. Pacific islands, and the islands in the Caribbean. The views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher or the editor. June 2021, Vol 25. No. 1. Printed in Canada. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. © 2021 Global Marketing Company Ltd. .



14 WHAT’S INSIDE Lead Stories 18 China i2i Group

8 China Duty Free Group

A new era China Duty Free Group has risen in spectacular fashion over the past decade. The number and size of developments taking place show that the sky is truly the limit for this operator

12 DFA Macau Update

Zero slowdown Despite a pandemic, closed borders and a loss of many of the store’s usual clientele sources, DFA Macau managed to increase sales in 2020, and CEO Jerome Falic says 2021 is looking good

28 Dubai Duty Free Update

14 Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development


The future is China Since 1999 i2i has been helping brands to reach the Chinese consumer, and the high-net-worth consumer in particular. While lately the GTR focus has been zeroed in on the domestic duty free business in Hainan, i2i’s CEO Alexander Glos offers words of wisdom for riding the coming Chinese traveling tide

No half measures China has made the decision that Hainan will be an international destination, and with that decision the country is covering all bases and then some. From family-friendly tourism to duty free shopping to the cruise port to high-finance international business and more, the island province leaves no possible reason for tourism left behind


Back in the saddle After Dubai’s initial airport shutdown last March and a subsequent opening that began for only cargo and repatriation, passenger numbers are now increasing and citizens are being vaccinated, all of which leads to an increase in “normal” activities that include shopping and Dubai Duty Free’s famous tennis and racing sponsorships

34 Trans-Tasman travel bubble

ARI discusses re-opening under Trans-Tasman travel bubble Leading up to the re-opening at Auckland Airport, ARI launched its integrated marketing campaign, Welcome Back, to unify all members of the travel community; Nuno Amaral, Chief Operations & Business Development Officer, ARI, says Trans-Tasman travel bubble provides good proof of concept & execution




Changi enhances personal travel companion Jaidee DF tackles challenges

24 30

TFWA WE returns; we speak with Aude Bourdier




Lead Stories 36 Tasa Meng in Taiwan

44 Sugar Confectionery

42 Moroccanoil Acceleration

45 Loacker

Recovery delayed Taiwan’s COVID cases have shot up, delaying opening for the country’s borders. Retailer Tasa Meng continues to weather this difficult storm with help from the Airport Authority and some innovative travel and shopping ideas

Strong position Moroccanoil made a number of pre-pandemic decisions that ended up benefitting them greatly throughout 2020 and into 2021. Sebastien Levi discusses how these decisions panned out plus his new role as the company’s Vice President, GTR and Direct Premium Retail Europe

Taking its time As HARIBO advances throughout Asia, the company is making sure to have its shapes, flavors and ingredient compliance 100% certain before fully engaging in the exciting Chinese market

A call to action Applying product packaging as a gateway, Loacker re-launched its brand with the support of its More Than Good campaign

46 Spirits Report

Predicting the future of spirits Across the spirits category, key players discuss the revival of GTR spirit sales and the growing demand for blended whisky

36 44 45

46 Features Women in Business: Kaitlyn Tsai 48

A Self-Care Guide to Quarantine 49

China Duty Free Group


new era by HIBAH NOOR

Charles Chen, President, China Duty Free Group

China Duty Free Group has risen in spectacular fashion over the past decade. The number and size of developments taking place show that the sky is truly the limit for this operator


hina has become increasingly important in travel retail over the past few years, and never has that been more the case than in 2020 and 2021. As the pandemic shut international and even domestic borders the world over and virtually all travel ground to a halt, China remained the “beacon of growth for the industry,” as succinctly put by then-TFWA President Alain Maingreaud at the China Reborn webinar in December of 2020. The country managed to shut down the virus’ spread and create a return to near normal for much of the country as the spread was ramping up in the rest of the world. As domestic travel increased in the country and the generous duty free allowance was implemented for Chinese nationals, Hainan in particular and China


as a whole became the unofficial capital of duty free over the past year. Sales in the province in the first quarter of 2021 increased over +300% from Q1 2020, and the same can be said China Duty Free Group (CDFG) as a whole.

New developments

As China’s potential in travel retail appears to be all but unlimited, it should come as no surprise that CDFG is very busy creating new shopping environments, some in partnerships. In Hainan, CDFG’s parent company China Tourism Group is opening the new “Haikou International Duty Free City.” With a planned area of 926,000 square meters in total constructed area and at a cost of US$1.6 billion, this complex will include the world’s largest duty free retail

space, which will be operated by CDFG. The development, which includes hotels and entertainment facilities in addition to duty free and duty paid retail space, is projected to open in June of 2022. CDFG operates over 200 stores in China. On Hainan Island, the company operates one shop at Haikou Airport and three offshore downtown duty free stores: the flagship CDF Mall in Sanya, the Haikou Riyue Plaza Duty Free in Haikou, and Qionghai Bo'ao Duty Free in Bo'ao. The CDF Mall in Sanya and Haikou Riyue Plaza Duty Free are among the company’s largest travel retail outlets. The operator recently opened two new offshore Duty Free Experience Stores in Sanya, which began trading on April 13. These two newly added shops are located at Sanya Bay Mangrove Resort, with over 740 square meters, and in Nanshan Tourist Area. The stores feature e-commerce experience areas, product display areas and other functional zones, in which top international brands are on display. In the e-commerce experience areas, customers



China Duty Free Group

can understand the online-order process while accompanied by professional shopping guides who explain the offshore duty free policy.

Inevitable growth

While Hainan is, with reason, getting the lion’s share of publicity in the duty free industry, China’s travel industry is only just beginning to emerge, according to Alexander Glos of i2i. The nation is just beginning to discover domestic travel, and, he says, international travel will undoubtedly be next. With more travel comes more airports, and CDFG is in a strong position to benefit. Later this year, the operator will open its commercial area at the new Tianfu International Airport in Chengdu. CDFG will run 4,000 square meters of retail space at the airport, which will include a mixture of multi-brand stores and shopin-shop boutiques, which offer luxury fashion, watches, jewellery and sunglasses. The first phase of the airport is opening later in 2021; it will be fully operational by 2025. Upon completion, the airport will have the capability to serve 90 million passengers per year. While a large and important airport, Tianfu is just one of many. In 2019 China stated that it would build over 200 new

airports by 2035, and the need is certainly there. Currently only 10% to 15% of the 1.4 billion Chinese have passports and the country has nearly 100 cities with a population of over 2 million.

Mutual cooperation

CDFG — which has already increased its revenue to more than 10 times what it was a decade ago — has benefitted from a number of decisions recently made by the Chinese government, much of which centers around Hainan. The promotion of shopping in particular, to go along with the promotion of tourism in that province, is generating near-endless opportunity for the company. A new duty free allowance of what is currently almost US$16,000 is just one aspect; CDFG is also able to partner with foreign companies, who bring not only the knowledge of the global duty free industry but also partnerships with brands. Charles Chen, President of CDFG, told us recently: “After 40 years of reforms, it is a new era for China and China Duty Free.” He then put out a call to the industry as a whole “to create a future of mutual cooperation together, constructing a bright future for the duty free industry both within China and worldwide.”

The CDF Mall in Sanya (pictured) and Haikou Riyue Plaza Duty Free are among the company’s largest travel retail outlets


Marriage of online and offline

The operator has also increased its omnichannel focus, and is intent on increasing its innovation in the digital area. The company is increasingly connecting online with offline for a multidimensional shopping experience, and Chen confirms a continuation of this is the plan for the future. He says it was clear during the crisis that it would be important to create an environment where it would become easier to buy, but he is certain that this omnichannel shopping will continue and grow far beyond the pandemic. CDFG has a membership base of over 10 million people, and the company will be creating user profiles based on this membership. This will enable the use of data analytics to create precise marketing. Along with the increased online presence, CDFG has made livestreaming an important marketing channel. Livestreaming platforms have been launched in Sanya International Duty Free Shopping Complex in addition to CDFG stores in Haikou, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, with more to come. “We all know that the duty free business differs from tax-included business, so our live broadcast content mainly focuses on brand promotion and business promotion,” says Chen.


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DFA Macau Update

Zero slowdown

Liquor and Confectionery make up a small but significant portion of sales in DFA Macau


uty Free Americas (DFA) is well known as a travel retailer in the Americas. In the US, the retailer operates a great many stores along both the north and south borders, and also has strong presence within a number of major airports. The company has extended its root system throughout the entire region, with a myriad of stores operating in the Caribbean and South America. Outside of the Americas, DFA is established in Macau, where it has been operating a large store for over 12 years. “Since our opening, we have expanded our footprint in the current location, a couple of times,” says Jerome Falic, CEO of DFA. “We have also continuously renovated and launched several new brands in Macau.” The store is located at the Venetian Macau Resort Hotel. It is the number-one location in Macau. Over 30 million people pass through this store each year, according to 2019 numbers. Falic says, “More traffic passes our shop than any other location in Macau.” The focus these days by the Chinese government and by the luxury goods sector as a whole might be Hainan, but Falic says Macau offers gambling, high-end dining and shows, making it an equally desirable destination.


Despite a pandemic, closed borders and a loss of many of the store’s usual clientele sources, DFA Macau managed to increase sales in 2020, and CEO Jerome Falic says 2021 is looking good by WENDY MORLEY

Strength in difficult times

In Macau, DFA managed to get through the entire pandemic without laying off even one of its 120 staff members who work in the office, shop and warehouse. In fact, against all odds, DFA ended up having a very good year in Macau in 2020, with sales slightly higher than those of 2019, despite the fact that a great portion of its normal client base was unable to travel there.

Pandemic restrictions

Before the pandemic, the store’s customers were multinational, made up mainly of a mix of people from Mainland China, India and elsewhere in Asia. The closed borders brought on by COVID meant the customers were made up entirely of Mainland Chinese, but Falic says despite that 2020 was a year of promotions being offered by brands, and this helped keep sales strong. While the promotions are no longer being offered to the same degree, Falic says sales for 2021 will continue on a positive trajectory, as Macau has eased its quarantine rules for those entering from China. Even before this restriction had been lifted, the store was doing well this year. Despite COVID rules requiring only limited numbers of people in the store at any given time plus the fact that

More than 30 million people per year pass through DFA Macau

Despite the growing Fragrance category, Beauty currently represents approximately 90% of sales at the store, with some liquor and confectionery as well. Though Japanese brands Decorte, POLA, Clé de Peau and of course Shiseido are all doing well at DFA Macau, for the most part the top brands are western: Lancôme, Dior, SK-II and Clarins. This is in part because of luxury brand association and in part because of sheer marketing spend, though there are also some strong Asian brands. “We have identified a few brands that we currently carry in Macau that we can definitely introduce in our shops in the Americas,” says Falic. “We are currently discussing these opportunities with those brands and will hopefully launch them within the next 12 months in the US.” In the 12 years that the Macau store has been open, there has been a clear trend toward younger shoppers. Falic says these shoppers are always shopping for staples and looking for the top brand, but also tend to seek out the latest hot brands.

Asian interest

Of late, China has become the epicenter of global travel retail. Chinese companies are seeking out western operators to partner with, and Falic confirms DFA is no exception, having been contacted to discuss partnerships. At this point, DFA has not yet chosen to go this route although the company does have aspirations to expand in region. “We are always looking for more locations in Asia and have some plans to open more,” says Falic. “We will be able to announce something later this year.” The company will be logistically ready for that expansion. “We currently have a warehouse plus additional storage spaces at the Venetian Resort. Our warehouse is large enough to be able to handle additional stores in the region. Same as our offices there. We have all departments for Asia based in Macau — buyers, finance, human resources and everything else needed to expand in the region,” says Falic. Macau is exceptionally service oriented — which can be more challenging with mask wearing by staff and other restrictions — the holiday season was a good one. Getting through this time successfully has been aided by the beauty brands, who were quick to create new ways of testing. It’s not an easy thing to choose a color based on a tiny dot; historically customers would use shared samples, but with that no longer possible, companies quickly introduced new ways customers can see what they are buying.

In addition to Dior, Lancôme and several others, Clarins and SK-II are two of the top brands in China, and by extension in Macau

Beauty above all else

For a company established in the Americas, the major difference seen with Macau is in category sales. Skin care and cosmetics, or “treatment and color,” are by far the biggest sellers in Macau, almost to the point of exclusion of other categories. Fragrance is growing, however, and DFA is in the process of dedicating more space to this usually popular category; it will end up with approximately 20% of the floor space. “We are currently expanding our current footprint again,” says Falic. “Around the end of the year we will be adding several fragrances to our offering. The category is growing and there is new demand for high-end brands. We are finalizing the space for these and are excited to introduce them in our expansion.” ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING


Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development


The Hainan Expo is striving to become a top expo in China in terms of international visibility, the value of exhibits per unit area, and the number of first launches and the exhibition itself

China has made the decision that Hainan will be an international destination, and with that decision the country is covering all bases and then some. From family-friendly tourism to duty free shopping to the cruise port to high-finance international business and more, the island province leaves no possible reason for tourism left behind


Ruslan Tulenov, Global Media Officer & Senior Supervisor, Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development


t’s difficult to overstate the investment China is making in Hainan as an international business and tourism destination. The government’s plan is far reaching and long term, beginning in full force now but not coming to full maturity until the year 2050. The strategy is truly firing on all cylinders, beginning with the development of Hainan as the country’s international tourism and consumption destination by leveraging on the tax-free policy. “Well-known brands and products are now cooperating with us to try to tap the potential of China’s huge 1.4 billion consumer market,” says Ruslan Tulenov, Global Media Officer & Senior Supervisor, Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development. The creation of the tax-free zone is obviously of interest to the travel retail 14 ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING JUNE 2021

industry, but that is just the beginning of plans to bring visitors to Hainan — and the more visitors, the more shoppers. Already a popular tourist destination, Sanya is now building the world’s largest cruise home port, and is anticipating a much larger number of cruise passengers than before. Also under creation is the RoundIsland Tourist Highway. “This is a very special project to upgrade Hainan’s overall tourism environment and facilities,” says Tulenov. “The highway contains 40 attractive scenery stations with distinctive features. During the process of construction, enormous opportunities will be unleashed to high-end hotels, commercial real estate developers, theme parks, recreation centers, and tourism content providers.” To make this investment especially attractive to high-end businesses around the world,

imported items such as amusement facilities will be exempt from duties. A possibly surprising sector being encouraged is that of medical tourism. “We are now building the Boao Lecheng pilot zone of international medical tourism, where favorable terms would allow the new drugs, devices and technologies approved in major overseas markets to be used here,” says Tulenov. “The process of getting registration and approval is shortened to a large extent.”

International business events

With a strong foothold in tourism, medical tourism, cruise, and an increasingly important location for finance, it should come as no surprise that Hainan is also set to become a primary destination for trade shows and conferences. “Hainan holds various major events such as the

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Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development

Boao Forum for Asia, International Alternative Energy Automobile Exhibition, Hainan International Film Festival and many more other major events. Now, just recently we held the Inaugural China International Consumer Products Expo (Hainan Expo), the only state-level expo focused on high-end consumer products,” says Tulenov. The first China International Consumer Products Show was held on May 7-10 at the Hainan International Exhibition Center in Haikou. With a total exhibition area of 80,000 square meters, it was the largest quality exhibition in the Asia-Pacific region. The exposition consisted of five main sections: fashion, jewelry and diamonds, high-quality food and health products, travel and tourism products, and comprehensive services. “The Hainan Expo is striving to become a top expo in China in terms of international visibility, the value of exhibits per unit area, and the number of first launches and the exhibition itself,” Tulenov says. “It will serve as an important platform for display and transactions of quality consumer products from all over the world. The expo provides an opportunity for display and transactions of global-quality consumer products in the Chinese market, and also creates business opportunities for Chinese and foreign quality consumer products for global sales.”

International tourism

While Hainan has been the undoubted capital of China tourism, until now the focus has been solely on attracting domesDuring the exhibition, almost 100 presentations of new products were held and over 500 new products were presented, meetings of buyers and suppliers were organized, more than 130 related events, including thematic conferences, were held. This year's exhibition was covered by about 1,000 journalists from 160 media outlets


tic visitors. This is changing. China is determined to open up to the world, and this is demonstrated by priorities such as the building of the free trade port and the First China International Consumer Products Expo. “This important nationallevel open platform promotes a dual-cycle development pattern, relying on both domestic and international economic cycles,” says Tulenov. “It will serve as an important platform that optimizes the supply-side reform of the domestic consumption sector, promoting the return of overseas consumption to China and the upgrading of domestic consumption.” Tulenov betrays his excitement at the near-innumerable developments and upgrades taking place in Hainan. “In recent years, Haikou has been constantly developing its tourism platform, making great efforts to improve infrastructure along with the well-being of the local people. It has been awarded titles such as ‘China's charming city,’ ‘China's happiest city,’ and is known as one of China's top ten cities in terms of beauty. “In Haikou, people can experience marine sports at the National Sailing Base Public Pier and Holiday Beach, play golf at Mission Hills Resort, explore the strange crustal lava at the World Geological Crater Park, or experience Chinese history and culture at Haikou Qilou Old Street and Wugong Temple Scenic Area,” he continues. “Haikou is also a ‘gathering place for delicacies.’ The night market is full of lights and aromas, and local specialties such as Hainan noodles, rice with spicy soup, old salt lemonade and coconut chicken have long-established reputation among tourists.”

Global duty free shopping

According to Tulenov, Chinese consumers wish to "travel around Haikou and shop around the world.” Haikou currently has four duty free stores in Haikou, but this number is rapidly increasing. Hainan is planning to build a globally influential consumer boutique center in Haikou to enhance the effect of the Consumer Expo and give full play to the policy advantages of the free trade port to help realize its goal: “buy globally and sell globally.” Sanya, one of the most popular destinations in China, is enriching the environment for tourism and consumption, turning the city into a destination of both tropical island vacations and duty free shopping. “Since China's first duty-free store landed in Sanya on April 20, 2011, Sanya has contributed about 77% of the province's off-island duty-free sales in the past decade,” says Tulenov. “In the middle of last year, the island province introduced a new tax-free policy that increased the quota to RMB 100,000 (current value US$15,670) and diversified the types of tax-free products on offer, which has set off a boom in duty free shopping in Sanya.” Sanya has now quadrupled its duty free shops from one to four with the opening of Hainan Tourism Duty Free Shopping Complex (HTDF Shopping Mall), CNSC Sanya International Duty Free Plaza (CNSC Mall) as well as the Sanya Phoenix International Airport duty free store. With these multiplying shopping choices, Sanya is creating a welcoming environment for duty free shopping.

More on offer

The city is also reimagining itself as a travel hotspot, offering new activities and themes designed to appeal to different tourism segments. Tulenov mentions that Sanya has now launched “Wonderland Sanya,” a campaign that seeks to attract young travelers to explore Sanya's “unique and vibrant possibilities” across the five areas of food, travel photography, culture, outdoor activities and luxury hospitality. “Also, the board recently partnered with Tencent's Game for Peace to host a themed carnival, making the city's Haitang Bay a new landmark of e-sports culture with a ‘cultural tourism + video game’ crossover approach,” he adds. Leveraging its prime location and the growing popularity of yachting, Sanya has also introduced a yacht timeshare model, helping to make the aspirational pastime accessible to a broader range of tourists. Tulenov relays more information on how the coastal city has actively invested in a number of large-scale tourism projects. “It has already opened the doors to the wildly successful Atlantis Sanya and Haichang Fantasy Town and inked an agreement to open a Hello Kitty Theme Park Resort in 2024. This continued investment has also attracted global tourism giants to settle in Sanya, with Caissa Holiday and Thomas Cook establishing their headquarters in the city. Many more other top projects are being explored and developed in Hainan in terms of tourism.” Truly a land of opportunity, Sanya is looking to a new era as an international destination city for tourism and consumption.


International partnerships

Last year Hainan Development Holdings (HDH) obtained the licence for offshore duty free operation and become a member of the Hainan travel retail family. As a newcomer to the industry, HDH chose to cooperate with Dufry for this project because of Dufry’s extensive experience and knowledge in the travel retail market, in addition to Dufry’s many established partnerships with a wide variety of brands, according to Tulenov. “There are many such successful cooperations being made, including Hainan Tourism Development Holding with Lagardère, Shenzhen Duty Free with DFS and more,” he says. “This has been achieved in line with the principle of dual international and domestic circulation in accordance with the requirements of brands, range and price synchronisation proposed by the Hainan Provincial Party Committee and Government.” While Hainan is investing heavily on becoming a shopping destination, Tulenov feels the Chinese shopper will be keen to travel abroad once restrictions are eased. “But we are very confident of Hainan’s future as an international tourism and consumption destination, same as many business leaders are also confident. Certainly, China Tourism Group Duty Free (parent company of China Duty Free Group) is now building the Haikou International Duty Free Complex, expected to open in June 2022, the grand project is to be become world’s biggest duty-free complex,” he says.

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Chinese Travel Revolution

China The future is

The inviting architecture of Hainan Sanya International Duty Free Shop


Alexander Glos, CEO of i2i Group, says the true Chinese travel revolution is still to come, and it is necessary to market to this group no matter your location


hina and its travelers have been the news in travel retail for years now, and with good reason. It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of this cohort. Alexander Glos, CEO of i2i Group — a multidimensional marketing company that helps brands reach high-net-worth Chinese consumers — believes if you are not focused on the Chinese consumer you are severely limiting your sales potential, period. “I think travel retail is only going to think about China in the future. It was already like that to some extent but it's going to get even more so. This is particularly the case in Asia, but even in Europe. And that's only going to increase; what we're about to experience in the next 10 years is really the true Chinese travel revolution.” As travel and thus travel retail has ground to a halt the world over, China has gained importance for another reason: For the past year it has been virtually the only place where travel retail has existed at all. While the virus may have come into existence in China, the country has been relentless in shutting down its transmission. Any region with cases has been promptly and completely severed off and there has been strict — some might say invasive — contact tracing and resultant isolation. As of writing over half a billion vaccines have been administered, and the goal is for that number to reach 700 million by the beginning of summer.

Important destination

Since 1999 i2i Group has been helping brands to reach the Chinese consumer, and the high-net-worth consumer in particular. While lately the GTR focus has been zeroed in on the domestic duty free business in Hainan, i2i Group's CEO Alexander Glos offers words of wisdom for riding the coming Chinese traveling tide by WENDY MORLEY

It is this type of management that has helped life within China return to near-normal within months of the pandemic’s beginning, and it is this return to near-normal within China’s borders that has helped Hainan to become the travel retail mecca it has become — in addition to the Chinese government’s 2020 decision to allow a US$14,000 duty free allowance for nationals who visit the island, as Hainan is being promoted as a duty free port. Glos says while Hainan is a place travel retail operators and brands should undoubtedly be, the current state of importance in the channel is something of an illusion. “Over the longer term Sanya/Hainan is definitely developing in an Orlando type of model,” he says. “It is a vacation destination for the average Chinese family, where they can go and spend money and have a fun family experience. They can do things like go to dinosaur parks and water parks and have butterfly experiences. I would say it's a Chinese Orlando but with slightly better scenery, because you've got tropical jungle mountains and the beaches are actually quite nice.” Glos has no doubt that Hainan will continue to be the number one leisure holiday destination in China, but that does not ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING


Chinese Travel Revolution

preclude Chinese travelers from also experiencing international destinations throughout Southeast Asia, Dubai, North America and Europe. “It’s easy to go to Hainan, but it's also less exotic and more expensive, and so for travelers looking for something out of the ordinary, international destinations will continue to be very attractive. Travel abroad transfers status and face to the traveler that domestic travel does not.” He adds that while a trip to Hainan might be easy, Korea and Japan are actually much closer for those traveling from Beijing or Shanghai. The status of having been to one of those destinations is greater, and time spent at either one is less expensive than at Hainan. “And if you know how expensive Japan is, you know that’s saying something.”

don't. They travel because they want to experience different countries and see iconic places in international cities. Increasingly they want local experiences in countries around the world,” says Glos. “But shopping is an element of this; it's part of what to do while you're traveling abroad because the prices are better, the selection is sometimes better and certainly the service is always better. I think the current success of domestic shopping in China is basically a false positive. It's successful today because Chinese travelers cannot travel globally. But once the doors open again, they will rediscover why they were shopping around the world before, and they will do it again.”

Limits of Hainan

“What we're about to experience in the next 10 years is the true Chinese travel revolution,” says Glos. “Only 13% of Chinese currently have passports, which is a very small percentage. When you look at the numbers back in 2019 and 2018, there were 120 to 140 million international travelers out of China, but about 75-80% of these traveled largely to near China — Hong Kong and Macao and Taiwan. This is tremendous news for global tourism and travel retail. The Chinese are learning to travel domestically, and once they do that they're going to learn how to travel internationally.” For evidence to support this statement, Glos looks back at the American in the US travel industry from 1945 until today. “In 1945 everybody got into a car or a train and they went to Florida or California. They drove someplace sunny to relax. They did that for awhile, but then they began to say, ‘I could take a cruise, or I could go to Hawaii.’ Once they did that, they then said, ‘oh wow I could actually go to Mexico or Europe,’ and they did that. This is what we’re now seeing in China.”

What Hainan is not, despite what many touted in discussing the China International Consumer Products Expo recently held there, is a place where high-net-worth Chinese will go luxury shopping, says Glos. Luxury shoppers are looking for much more than purchasing the item, he says. They are seeking out the luxury experience, which very much includes service. “If you’re in Sanya you have to stand in line for 30 minutes to get into the store. It’s like waiting for a ride in Disney. It’s difficult to imagine any real high-end shopper doing that.” Additionally, he adds, the selection is simply not the same as it is elsewhere in the world. Also, Glos says that Chinese who are purchasing truly high-end items are usually using an international bank account and a different currency, and prefer to make purchases outside of China. As the Chinese consumer is so important around the world, it can be difficult to lose sight of the Chinese traveling person who becomes that consumer. “I think it's a misunderstanding to assume that the Chinese travel exclusively for shopping. They

Learning to travel

Chinese-global partnerships Chinese travel retail has been seeking out international companies to partner with for a couple of reasons, according to Glos. “First to try and capture a greater position with the global brands, but I think also, increasingly, retailers are focusing on Chinese products and brands. It should be a win-win situation between both sides of the market — the Chinese traveler will gain a relationship with global brands, and popular Chinese brands will become available globally. Ultimately, global brands and Chinese brands should be sitting side by side not just in China, but around the world. i2i Group helps brands reach consumers in part through its 8.5 million followers on social media


LEGO and the LEGO logo are trademarks of the LEGO Group. ©2021 The LEGO Group. 93639_EN

Chinese Travel Revolution The tropical mountains of Hainan surround the city of Sanya

Traveling beyond

Glos says we will begin to see travel to near-China increase dramatically throughout the rest of 2021, and then begin to extend to other parts of the world. “As the world begins to open up, the Chinese will begin to travel internationally again,” he says. “After Macau and Hong Kong will come Korea and Japan. Then you’ll see travel throughout the core East Asian, Southeast Asian destinations. I think I would also put Dubai on that list. I don't know how big those numbers will be because I think probably there will be certain capacity controls; right now Chinese can go to Phuket for example, but only two flights a day are offered, one from Shanghai and one from Beijing. Those flights are currently sold out for the next six months.” His company projects that renewed global travel from China will come in phases. “The first 10% to 20% of global Chinese travelers, those that are more sophisticated and globally travel experienced, will be the first to travel internationally. Once they have traveled around the world and can share with their friends good experiences, safe experiences and the bargain deals that will undoubtedly be available to global Chinese travelers when they begin traveling, that will propel the next 20% to 30%.” Glos says this is pretty much what happened domestically in China in 2020. “In March and April of last year there were virtually no domestic travelers, less than 10% of normal. But by June you had the first 30% and by August and September you're up to 60% and 70% of normal travel — in some destinations close to 90%. By the end of 2020 numbers in some domestic destinations were exceeding 2019’s.”

Enormous potential

While the world chomps at the bit for global travel to restart, the real story about China is not what’s going on over the coming year, but what is possible in years to come. This certainly includes opportunities offered by the coming international travel boom, but also by the opening up of possibilities simply by being visible in China. To illustrate, Glos mentions a well-known US brand that had been present in China, didn’t feel sales were adequate and so left, only to find that it also lost brand recognition of Chinese customers globally. That company is now returning to the country’s domestic market. “It’s the cost of doing business,” says Glos. “Sure they saved money by closing shop in China, but then the Chinese stopped walking through their doors in New York. You save $20 million but lose $40 million.”


Brands need to put substantial effort into being recognized by the Chinese. “The Chinese are brand conscious, but they do not have the same brand connection that we might have outside of China,” Glos says. “For example, my grandmother might have had a Cartier watch, and my mother, and my wife. The connection is there. With the Chinese, the competition isn’t just between luxury brands; it's also between some of these other brands which may not be considered luxury but really are luxury in terms of quality. Younger, more affluent Chinese travelers in particular are less connected to Cartier and Chanel and they are much more open minded, so the landscape is super competitive, and also has massive potential.”

Global consumer

China is undoubtedly the future of any international brand or retail company. But Glos says the marketing strategy needs to be truly global. “Chinese are globalizing, which means that they are increasingly living abroad, and their business interests are also increasingly globalizing. So yes, finding Chinese consumers in China is a good strategy, but you're also going to find Chinese consumers around the world in New York, Paris, Milano, Sydney and Vancouver.” Recognizing that your best consumer in China may also be your best customer in New York is very important, according to Glos; he adds that the product and branding message must be designed to satisfy that global Chinese consumer. “This is really the first time in the history of luxury that we have seen such a significant demographic that operates on a truly global scale,” he says. In other words, your marketing, branding, social media and communications will drive global business no matter where it is geographically located. “Your China budget might be spent in China, but it's really driving global sales,” he says, adding that you might want to use the Mandarin language in your global marketing efforts. “The number of Chinese walking through Frankfurt airport on any given day in normal times is well into the thousands.” According to Glos, some brands are already working along this train of thought. Their advertising might be in Mandarin, for example, or they might use Chinese models in their campaigns. Westerners might just think this is simply an attractive Asian face, but in reality it’s a Chinese celebrity. This is the kind of messaging that reaches Chinese people everywhere.

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Changi Airport


enhances its personal travel companion by LAURA SHIRK


CAG has appropriately labelled STC a onestop portal for safe travel in Singapore


eveloped by Changi Airport’s Digital, Innovation, Ventures & Analytics team, The Safe Travel Concierge (STC) serves as a safe, contactless guide to navigate travel to Singapore in a post-pandemic world. As the future of connected travel, the platform is promoted as a personal travel companion for passengers. As explained online by Changi Airport Group (CAG), the prototype was first developed and trialled, with the support of the Singapore Tourism Board, at TravelRevive in November 2020. Ensuring attendees of the pilot hybrid tradeshow completed all necessary requirements before flying to Singapore, STC added an extra level of protection. In addition to guiding users through a customized list of pre-travel conditions based on their profile and trip details, the prototype allowed travelers to book and pre-pay for their COVID-19 test upon arrival. Following the success of the STC trial at TravelRevive, the team continued to enhance its design and functionality via integration. “STC was developed with the intent of making the traveler experience for Changi

Airport’s passengers more seamless. With STC, travelers no longer need to search multiple websites to complete their pretravel requirements. The portal is easily accessible through a web browser, which eliminates the need to download another mobile application,” explains Jayson Goh, Managing Director of Airport Operations Management, Changi Airport Group. “Since the launch of STC, we have continued to refine the platform with the feedback received. We have a dedicated team that works around-the-clock to keep track of the latest changes and developments in border regulations to ensure the tool is up-to-date and relevant. “Based on the feedback we have received, most users are satisfied with the platform, especially the convenience of making on-arrival COVID-19 test bookings as a group. As border regulations continue to evolve and travel resumes, we encourage passengers traveling to Singapore to use STC for a smooth arrival at Changi Airport. Concurrently, we are also working with local and international travel agents to further encourage use of the portal,” he adds.


Following the success of The Safe Travel Concierge (STC) trial at TravelRevive, the team has continued to enhance the design and function of the platform, noting more than 1,000 users sign up daily

Mini Travel Suitcase EXCLUSIVE

Changi Airport

Passenger movements at Changi Airport

Responding to Changi Airport’s contribution to recovery, Goh says vaccination is key, as the industry works to restore confidence in air travel. In January, the airport opened Singapore’s largest vaccination center at Terminal 4. Since then, over 90% of frontline aviation workers have been vaccinated. With a basic understanding of what is to come during the continued recovery, CAG references a graph displaying a yearly breakdown of passenger movements at Changi Airport. It shows the number of passengers as 68300K, 11800K and 601K in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. Available online via Changi Airport’s website is a further breakdown of passenger, air freight and commercial aircraft movements.

As shared in April 2021, according to Lucas Lee, Development Operations Manager, Changi Airport Group, more than 1,000 users sign up for the platform on a daily basis.

When asked how Changi Airport will continue to offer a unified traveler journey across physical and digital touchpoints, Goh points out that STC is one of many projects that CAG has on the go. Regardless of the state of travel, the company actively seeks new opportunities to innovate, while also promising a safe and pleasant passenger experience. “A key enabler is Changi Airport’s onestop mobile application, iChangi. Over the past year, we have incorporated many new functions to make our main offerings such as STC, iShopChangi, Changi Eats and our loyalty program, Changi Rewards, available via iChangi. “Using iChangi, passengers can make their pre-travel plans, browse duty free products and retrieve their flight information when they fly through Changi Airport. Moving forward, the vision is to provide access to all Changi offerings in a single application, giving passengers a personalized omni-channel retail experience and a smooth airport experience,” says CAG.


Easily accessible through a web browser, STC eliminates the need to search multiple sites or download another mobile application to complete pre-travel requirements


iChangi unifies the travel experience

Loacker Tortina and Patisserie, assorted pleasures for those waiting to greet you. Pure goodness!

Dubai Duty Free Update

B AC K I N T H E SA D D L E After Dubai’s initial airport shutdown last March and a subsequent opening that began for only cargo and repatriation, passenger numbers are now increasing and citizens are being vaccinated, all of which leads to an increase in “normal” activities that include shopping and Dubai Duty Free’s famous tennis and racing sponsorships by HIBAH NOOR


ubai Duty Free (DDF), operating at Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport, is one of the biggest travel retail operations in existence, thanks in part to its location at one of the world’s greatest hubs and also to the leadership of Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO. As with other retailers at other airports, Dubai Duty Free has not been without its challenges over the past year. “We’re doing okay generally, but of course things change all the time,” says McLoughlin. “Dubai Airport is picking up, but traffic and sales are way down. We’re doing the best we can.” Unsurprisingly, McLoughlin says the budget this year is considerably less than in previous years. “This year our budgeted sales are AED2.58 billion (over US$700 million) for the year, and we’re doing very well in comparison to that budget. We have 50 airlines operating out of the airport at the moment, and Emirates is serving 120 destinations on six continents now compared to around 140 destinations pre-COVID, and they are doing a great job in opening up destinations where it is possible to do so.” Previously, more than 100 airlines connected to more than 240 destinations.

Numbers slowly moving up

While McLoughlin confirms the airport saw an increase in PAX in the last quarter of 2020 and early 2021, he gives Ireland as an example of how flight numbers have fallen. “We used to have two flights per day to Dublin; Emirates now has three flights per week, and that is mainly bring28 ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING JUNE 2021

ing people back because there is no access into Ireland without having hotel quarantine. “Additionally, there are no passenger flights from Dubai to Heathrow at the moment. And it’s not just the flight numbers that are down. Occupancy is running at about 40%. We need more passengers. Emirates and FlyDubai are accounting for 70% of the total flights. “Our staff is down more than 50%”, says McLoughlin. “Currently there are 2,600 people working with us whereas in 2019 this number was just under 6,000. In our existing airports a number of our concourses are still not operating, and it will likely be some time before they open. At DXB we have concourses A, B, C and D, but just B and C are operating. There is no need to open the others at the moment.” But things are improving. Passenger traffic at DXB reached more than 5.7 million during the first quarter of 2021, according to Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. In March, the total number of passengers increased by about 21.5% to over 2.28 million, compared to 1.67 million during February.

Sales and stock

Most passengers to the airport are coming from India, Moscow, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt, with a small number from Bahrain and some Gulf states, says McLoughlin. “Russian and Indian passengers are spending well,” he adds. “Present spend per head has increased in comparison to what it used to be. It used to be US$39 to $42 per head. Now it’s US$51 to $52 per head.” He feels this

indicates that people have been anxious for the opportunity to buy. Other factors include less congestion in retail areas, the clear display of goods and the number of attractive promotions in place. “Our purchasing department is very much alive and trying to keep up to date with everything,” he says. “At the beginning of the pandemic we were left with a lot of stock. We’re back to normal now.”

Creating recovery

The UAE is doing exceptionally well with the vaccine rollout. The emirates’ population is 9.5 million in total and as of writing the health authority has provided 9.9 million vaccines. Over 94% of the DDF staff have been vaccinated. “At one stage among our staff we had 300 cases of COVID,” says McLoughlin. “We now have four active cases.” While the recovery is going well, McLoughlin believes it will take two to three years to return to 2019 levels. “Our main focus will be rebuilding our retail business as much as possible by working with the airport and stakeholders to gradually reopen those areas that are still closed including Concourses A and D (and AMIA),” he says, adding that Dubai Duty Free will be ready to open in line with the projected forecasts of the airlines, concourses and airport. “We will also continue to drive sales in the current operation, ensuring that we are offering great service at good prices, and have the latest products both in store and online,” says McLoughlin. “We did this with the new iPhone 12 series launch in October 2020, and there was a huge demand for that. So far we sold 18,261

units, amounting to US$21.3 million since October.” Dubai Duty Free also launched the Home Delivery Service for UAE customers last June. “It has been very beneficial in selling fashion items and goods that are within months of expiry,” he says. From launch until time of writing, home delivery says totalled US$11.63 million, with 186,136 units sold. McLoughlin says they will continue to enhance the Home Delivery service, which has given the company incremental income since June’s launch. Home delivery is available to anyone in UAE. Customers pay the VAT on these items, along with any shipping fees. In 2020, the home delivery service saw US$9.35 million in sales with 163, 407 units sold, while the 2020 Click & Collect service, which passengers book before their flight, brought in US$1.55 million sales with 3,800 orders made. Win with DDF online, which is the sale of Millennium Millionaire and Finest Surprise luxury car tickets, saw sales for 2020 of US$33.6 million with 165,000 tickets sold. Both promotions saw an increase in online sales following a marketing drive and so far DDF has created 355 dollar millionaires and has given away 1,770 luxury cars and 450 motorbikes. “Overall our total online sales now account for 7% of our sales; this is an indicator of how important the digital side of our business is,” says McLoughlin. “Similarly, our suppliers are increasingly keen for us to host their digital boutiques on our website and to host live demonstrations on social media platforms, which are becoming popular.”

Changed demographics

As the world’s borders are no longer open as they were just a little over a year ago, it’s inevitable that passenger demographics have changed. As an example, China had been a very important market for Dubai Duty Free whereas in the first quarter of 2021 Chinese nationals ranked 17th with sales of US$2.5 million. Though there is very limited traffic between the UAE and China at this time, McLoughlin says passengers from that country will return. While the demographics may be different, McLoughlin says very little has changed in terms of purchasing trends: “The top-selling categories have remained the same. The categories that continue to see trends are Perfumes, Liquor, Tobacco, Electronics and Cosmetics.”

Safety of utmost importance

Dubai Duty Free is working on its own and together with brands to ensure a safe shopping environment for passengers, with a focus on a contactless environment. “We have contactless payment where possible,” he says. “And brands have created contactless alternatives that will showcase their products and let customers explore them before purchase through visuals, digital assets, QR codes and acrylic displays.” When it came to re-opening the airport and the retail operation, there were clear guidelines on how to open safely and McLoughlin says they were able to implement these guidelines into their re-opening strategy. “Following the successful inspection by the UAE Government authorities, we were very pleased to receive their approval to reopen parts of our retail operation in Terminal 3 – Concourse B and Terminal 2 since its temporary closure in March 2020. Since then, we have reopened other retail areas including Concourse C in December. Overall the UAE authorities have done a fantastic job in handling COVID-19 and in mitigating some of the situations that we continue to see around the world, even at this stage,” he says. Protocols include: • Mandatory mask wearing and sanitizing the hands for all staff and customers • Social distancing signs are available at floor area, counters and within the shop, making easy for everyone to maintain distance while interacting • During payment, contactless transactions are encouraged • Gondola and counters are regularly sanitized • Perfume testers are available but are not openly displayed at the gondola • Skincare and cosmetics are available, but passengers are not allowed to have physical access to them • Food sampling is not allowed • Fitting rooms are operational but very restricted practices are in place

Sports sponsorship

Despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dubai Duty Free

has continued to invest in sports sponsorship, which McLoughlin says has helped to favourably position the operation and the city of Dubai. “The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which is owned and organized by Dubai Duty Free, went fantastically well,” he says. “We worked hard behind the scenes to provide the highest possible COVID-19 safety measures, to host the event as safely and enjoyably as possible. This included the establishment of the tournament organizing committee — which has been working along with the Dubai Sports Council and Dubai Health Authority — and adherence to the protocols put in place by the UAE authorities as well as from the WTA and ATP tours. It was very a very different event due to all these restrictions, but we are happy that we were able to stage the tournament and that it was successful.” While spectators were not able watch the action in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, an estimated 60 million viewers tuned in to watch the tournament over the two weeks. Additionally, the flat race season in the UK has began with the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend at Newbury Racecourse in April. “This is traditionally staged over two consecutive days, but this year the second day of the meeting was delayed by 24 hours as a mark of respect for HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose funeral took place in Windsor on Saturday afternoon.” McLoughlin confirms that he is also looking forward to returning to Ireland for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby in June at The Curragh Racecourse, and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet Estates in July.

Dubai Duty Free Foundation

Finally of note, through its foundation, Dubai Duty Free donated AED3 million (US$816,000) in April 2021 to the 100 Million Meals Ramadan campaign organised by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), which aims to provide food parcels to disadvantaged families across 20 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. “The donation — allocated through the Dubai Duty Free Foundation — will help supply three million meals to families in Egypt, Pakistan, Angola, Uganda, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria during the month of Ramadan,” says McLoughlin. ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING


Jaidee Duty Free in Thailand

Transcending cultures

Most shoppers at Jaidee Duty Free come in groups, shopping for themselves, friends and family members



Jaidee Duty Free offers the core travel retail categories, with top sellers including brown spirits and red wines

The three Jaidee Duty Free stores — similar in design, feel and layout — are complemented with a smiling and friendly sales staff

In early 2019, Coates saw the opportunity to independently own and operate duty free stores in Thailand. The opportunity was “not to be passed up,” he says. “By the end of 2019, I was opening my first duty free store and the rest, as we say, is history.”


The store’s shoppers consist of international tourists, day trippers and foreign workers from around the region, including many truck drivers, according to Coates. The customer base is primarily made up of Burmese, Cambodian, Laos and Thai nationals, though tourists from other regions also shop there. As these stores opened just before the pandemic began, one would assume international travel in the region will once again increase the stores’ international tourist shoppers in kind. “We have large pockets of Chinese nationals and westerners at various times when the borders are fully open,” confirms Coates. There is no age-specificity to shoppers, as Coates says age demographics are wide ranging. Most customers are traveling in groups, and there is a higher proportion of women than men. Shoppers buy for themselves and also for friends and family members, as Jaidee Duty Free is the exclusive retailer for certain wine and spirits items.

Category mix

Truck drivers are an important group of customers for Jaidee Duty Free


or decades Thailand has been an important country for travel — both tourism and trade. As Lukas Coates, Managing Partner, Jaidee Duty Free, says: “The Mekong River has provided life, commerce, trade and industry throughout Indochina for thousands of years. Movement of goods and people are vital to the sustainability of the region.” This river acts as the border between many countries. Jaidee Duty Free has stores on three Thailand borders: Thailand-Laos, Thailand-Cambodia and Thailand-Myanmar. Coates says: “Every location has a slightly different environment, but with two common themes — the Mekong River and high humidity!” Jaidee Duty Free is a small organization made up of American, Burmese, Laos and Thai nationals, according to Coates. “My partner, Ms Pannipa Kwandumnern, remains instrumental in our progress and development. Our staff are young, passionate and knowledgeable in a way that transcends cultures. This allows us to keep our eyes open and ears to the ground along the Mekong River Region,” he says.

Coates says the stores’ product mix focuses on core categories, with an emphasis towards local preferences. “Any customer who chooses to patron Jaidee Duty Free will have a unique experience when entering our stores,” he says. “The stores, which are similar in design, feel and layout, are complemented with a smiling and friendly sales staff that adds value to a product range consisting of imported and local items that are deeply appreciated by all.” Wine and spirits are the top-selling categories in Jaidee Duty Free stores, with a particular emphasis on brown spirits and red wines. In brown spirits the emphasis is on blended Scotch and single malt whisky, American whiskey and brandy. The red wines that are most popular are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and red blends that originate in Australia, Chile, South Africa and the USA.

Challenges ahead

Travel retail is an industry continuously affected by external forces, and as with virtually everyone within the channel, Coates’ expectations for 2021 are conservative. “Our business partners remain positive and supportive,” he says. “We continue to face challenges and difficulties every day — because of COVID-19, yes, but also because of political and social unrest or other factors such as exchange rates.” With borders remaining closed, of course Jaidee Duty Free has experienced the resultant drop in sales, but Coates says, “Like anything in life, this is temporary. Navigating through the remaining 2021, we will need a strong combination of support between our brand partners and industry colleagues in addition to commitment from government entities to return to normal.” Coates says the keys to focus on over the coming months are to strengthen relationships with existing business partners, work together with government authorities and keep an open mind towards new opportunities while facing current challenges head on. “This will influence how Jaidee Duty Free progresses through 2021 and beyond,” he concludes. ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING


TFWA WE Update



TFWA Vice President Marketing and Vice President Managing Director, Travel Retail, Brown-Forman, Aude Bourdier says it has never been more important for us to come together as an industry


For the duty free & travel retail industry, the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes is the anchor of each year. The past year it has felt like we were all cast adrift in a multitude of ways, so it was especially exciting to hear that our anchor is returning


t’s safe to say the travel retail industry the world over has been on the edge of its collective seat to see if TFWA World Exhibition & Conference would be announced as a live event in Cannes this year. Indeed it now has been, though with cautions attached. We spoke to TFWA VP Marketing, Aude Bourdier, to discuss plans for the event, given the health situation and the fact that a few months have been lost in the planning. Duty Free Magazine: Where are you in terms on planning for the upcoming TFWA WE Cannes show? Aude Bourdier: We’re making steady progress in our plans for TFWA World Exhibition & Conference. We’re monitoring the situation in Cannes very closely, and we are in constant contact with local authorities — both across the city of Cannes and at the Palais itself — to ensure we can offer the best possible event for delegates while operating within the latest health & safety guidelines. We’re doing everything in our power to host a live event, and we’re grateful to our members and the industry for their trust and support in helping us to achieve this. DFM: Who is most enthusiastic about the Cannes show coming back this year? Is it retailers, suppliers? Or is TFWA simply trying to get back to some normalcy? AB: The feedback from our recent member survey shows there is overwhelming demand for a return to physical trade events and face-to-face interaction across the entire duty free and travel retail business. From the conversations we are having with companies from all sectors of the industry, there is a general desire to return to live events as soon as possible. As the biggest event in our industry’s calendar, there’s also a high level of enthusiasm from the trade around the return of TFWA World Exhibition & Conference, particularly at such a crucial time in our history, where collaboration

and cooperative thinking will be vital in overcoming the challenges ahead of us. The Cannes event will help to serve as a springboard for recovery, and it has arguably never been more important for us to come together as an industry. While mindful of the challenges involved, we have a mandate to do all we can to make this event happen. DFM: What are the main challenges you’re facing while planning for this show? What are you encountering that the rest of us may not realize? AB: The challenges we’re facing are the same as any organisation hosting a largescale event in the current circumstances. The health and safety of attendees will be paramount, and we will be adapting this year’s event to fit in line with hygiene protocols being put in place at the Palais des Festivals and surrounding areas. With many companies facing financial challenges in the current climate, we’re also focused on making TFWA World Exhibition & Conference as affordable as we can, while still maintaining the high quality that attendees have come to expect from the event. This is why we have launched initiatives such as our Hosted Buyer Programme, in order to provide financial assistance and more support to our industry partners looking to join us in Cannes. Without buyers, there will be no event, so it’s important we do all we can to facilitate their attendance. DFM: Can we talk about the ventilation and other safety measures that will be taken at the Palais? AB: The Palais des Festivals has introduced a number of very stringent measures in order to meet health & safety requirements. Regular deep cleaning and disinfection is now in place at the venue, while ventilation uses fresh rather than recycled air to improve hygiene standards. It is also the first conference center in France to receive GBAC STAR accredita-

tion from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council. Attendees at this year’s TFWA World Exhibition & Conference can rest assured that all precautions are being taken to ensure their visit is a safe and comfortable one. DFM: What is the current situation with hotel occupancy? AB: While it’s too early to say, we can share that, as ever, we are working closely with hotels in Cannes in preparation for a large turnout of exhibitors, buyers, retailers and other guests wishing to attend this year’s TFWA World Exhibition & Conference. DFM: What will happen with the social events? AB: We are continuing to update our social events program in order to provide ample opportunities to mingle and network while also adhering to local health & safety guidelines. We will have more news to share on this in the coming weeks. DFM: Do you feel encouraged after hearing about the Hainan Expo and Arabian Travel Market conference? AB: It is always heartening to see live events coming back; there have also been pilot events taking place in Singapore, for example. In France, some major events are planned in Paris from June, and our friends and partners in Cannes are devoting a lot of efforts to staging a successful Film Festival in July. This gives us added confidence in our plan to bring TFWA World Exhibition & Conference back to Cannes this year. The municipality is no stranger to hosting large international conferences and events, and ours is just one of a number. Cannes is now well prepared to safely welcome back delegates on a large scale. With this in mind, we’re determined to host a successful live event that will bring our industry together and kickstart the recovery of duty free and travel retail. ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING


Trans-Tasman travel bubble

Trans-Tasman travel bubble

The celebratory message of Welcome Back at Auckland Airport has been shared via visual merchandising, internal communications, digital channels and local and international media

Leading up to the re-opening at Auckland Airport, ARI launched its integrated marketing campaign, Welcome Back, to unify all members of the travel community; Nuno Amaral, Chief Operations & Business Development Officer, ARI, says Trans-Tasman travel bubble provides good proof of concept & execution by LAURA SHIRK

Nuno Amaral at ARI explains New Zealand’s snap lockdown approach to COVID19 and ARI’s preparation of the re-opening at Auckland Airport



ollowing the launch of the TransTasman travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia, Aer Rianta International (ARI) re-opened The Loop Duty Free at Auckland Airport. To learn more about its re-opening process and ongoing recovery, Asia Duty Free & Travel Retailing Magazine connected with Nuno Amaral, Chief Operations & Business Development Officer, ARI. As a global business operating in many countries with different routes of recovery, Amaral says ARI will not be able to facilitate a full recovery at a steady rate. Moving to the Ireland pre-COVID, he is based at the company’s head office in Dublin, where retail, entertainment and travel is still limited. For those on the other side of the world living within the bubble, it’s mostly back to business. Until recently, residents of New Zealand and Australia have pulled back safety measures and tucked away their masks in accordance with their COVID-19 response. Compared to most other countries, New Zealand implemented a different, more aggressive approach to travel in

order to reduce the spread of the virus. With the exception of specific reasons such as repatriation, New Zealand quickly and completely shut down the country to internal and external visitors. As a result of this extreme travel ban, Amaral says ARI shops at Auckland Airport closed their doors for more than one year, whereas shops at other airports across the globe continued to operate with low passenger numbers.

A celebratory message

According to Amaral, the re-opening in Auckland generated a genuine sense of excitement among ARI staff members at all levels, brand partners, airport officials and travelers. To offer support and reassurance, the airport retailer has vaccinated all of its frontline workers at the airport. Described as a team effort, he states that the successful re-opening is a testament to ARI’s strong work ethic and immense dedication from the shop floor to the back office. Leading up to the re-opening, ARI launched its integrated marketing campaign, Welcome Back, which is specific to Auckland Airport and aims to unify all members of the travel community. The celebratory message of Welcome Back has been amplified via visual merchandising, internal communications, digital channels and local and international media. “The initial passenger segment to return among the Trans-Tasman bubble was mainly fueled by people visiting friends and relatives. This immediate rush to book personal flights was followed by a small percentage of business travel and tourism. Initial passenger numbers were

15 – 20% of 2019 passenger traffic – a massive improvement compared to early 2021,” reveals Amaral.

Provincial responses & snap lockdowns

Since New Zealand and Australia are both determined to remain at zero COVID-19 cases, the travel bubble is designed to be executed on a provinceto-province basis. This means if a single case is detected, the province will implement a “snap lockdown” for several days to assess the situation, explains Amaral. He goes on to comment that if the case is found to be a community transmission – as opposed to an isolated case – the province might extend the snap lockdown. Within one week of launching the Trans-Tasman bubble, a snap lockdown took place in Perth, Western Australia, followed by a second one in mid-May in Sydney, New South Wales. At the beginning of June, the state of Victoria extended its strict snap lockdown to curb its most recent outbreak. With provincial management working effectively and the prompt handling of snap lockdowns, Amaral says the TransTasman travel bubble provides good proof of conception and execution. Although the federal government on both sides of the agreement have been mindful in regards to making announcements and commitments, he notes that a generic roadmap exists to lead a gradual, phased re-opening.

ARI’s staff engagement model

Amaral believes that ARI’s staff engagement model is the reason for its

success in New Zealand. During the national lockdown, the retailer strategically managed stock, minimized downsizing and established alternative work positions and revenue streams. In addition to opening pop-up locations in the domestic terminal at Auckland Airport and downtown Auckland to maintain engagement, the team prioritized constant dialogue among management and sales associates via ARI’s online training platform, The Knowledge Hub. Featuring informational content, the user-friendly platform highlights product knowledge, brand experience and retail engagement. He says it’s because of this approach that ARI was prepared to fully re-open when allowed to do so. “The customer is at the heart of ARI’s strategy and we possess enough consumer insight to allow us to shape our offer accordingly. Going forward, this will become more relevant. At the same time, we are completing internal work and re-visiting our customer value proposition to assess the temporary and permanent impact of COVID-19 and address how we are going to engage with passengers during this new normal,” says Amaral. Although ARI is still trying to find “the sweet spot” in terms of post-pandemic retail business and engagement, its brand promise “Experience is Everything” continues to hold. The recent update of ARI’s Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance (ESG) strategy and its three main pillars: people, planet and product demonstrate the company’s embracing of digital acceleration and sustainable living.

During the lockdown, ARI prioritized constant dialogue among management and sales associates via its online training platform; Amaral believes that ARI’s staff engagement model is the reason for its successful re-opening in New Zealand ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING


Tasa Meng in Taiwan

R E C O V E R Y D E L AY E D Taiwan’s COVID cases have shot up, delaying opening for the country’s borders. Retailer Tasa Meng continues to weather this difficult storm with help from the Airport Authority and some innovative travel and shopping ideas by HIBAH NOOR Fun, interactive area recently built by Tasa Meng in Terminal 2

Tasa Meng staff, including General Manager Gary Chau, received their vaccinations on May 5th, 2021

Mr. Chen Wen-Tsan, the Mayor of Taoyuan City, and Tasa Meng President Ms. Ku, during the mayor’s visit to the airport

Interactive TV screen located near boarding gate D1 in a public area recently built by Tasa Meng


Ms. Ku, President of Tasa Meng Corporation, receiving her COVID-19 vaccine


Non-destination flights have become popular in Korea, and these have also shown popularity in Taiwan, where they are known as a “semi-international flight.” Tasa Meng can sell duty free to individuals who take these flights to nowhere, and the “one-day shopping tour,” which is arranged by the Airport Authority and the International Business Development Association. “According to the customs law and regulations, we arrange to pay tax and duties for their purchases,” says Chau. “Then we arrange home delivery for customers.”

Slight improvements


ith the exception of a recent sudden increase in cases, Taiwan has been an exemplary country throughout the pandemic, managing to keep its case numbers extremely low despite keeping society open, because of its extremely quick reaction to the spreading virus and the willing support of its people for the measures taken. While domestic society has been open, however, as with the rest of the world, Taiwan’s international borders have been shut. Some Tasa Meng shops — the duty free operator in the country’s two main airports — have remained open, but with very little business. “All our shops at the main shopping area in front of immigration and our arrival shops are open,” says Gary Chau, General Manager, Tasa Meng. “We had to close most of our gate shops due to quarantine restrictions. We divided our sales team into two teams working on different days to avoid contact.”

Logistical issues

When we last spoke with Chau, the pandemic was in its early days. At that point, Tasa Meng was experiencing problems within its supply chain, with the company’s then-ongoing renovations heavily impacted. Chau says these issues have been addressed in a multiple of ways. For example, the company has worked closely with suppliers to arrange for partial payments and adjust sales plans. The luxury boutique area, including Prada, will be completed by the end of August of this year, but other renovations that had been taking place in 2020 were suspended because of quarantine restrictions. Home delivery was another logistically affected area, and Chau says they’ve improved the lead time down from a few days to a maximum of two days. With the virtual cessation of travel came another logistical issue, that of expiry dates. “We have had to mark down the closeto-expiry food products,” says Chau. “We will end up writing off a lot of food, cosmetics and tobacco products.”

While traffic is nowhere near pre-pandemic levels, Chau says Tasa Meng has experienced some improvements since the early days. “Similar to other travel retailers, during 2020 we had a full month in January and half-month in February with normal business,” he says. “Our business has been seriously affected from mid-February onwards. However, business picked up in July 2020 with semi-international flights, cruises and airport shopping tours. Our island duty free also benefited with the local domestic travel boom.”

Postponed recovery

After over a year of virtually no new cases from day to day, the country saw a sudden jump in cases around mid-May, into the hundreds per day. As might be imagined, this has affected plans for any degree of reopening. “We have to wait for our CDC to secure sufficient vaccine,” says Chau. “The number of inbound pax number has also dropped since last week, and travel bubbles with other countries have been temporary suspended due to the recent COVID-19 cases.” As is the case with virtually every country worldwide, vaccines offer hope for the Taiwanese. “We took the lead to receive the Astra Zeneca (AZ) vaccine on 5 May 2021,” says Chau. “We need to protect the interest of our customers, our colleagues and our friends and family.” He confirms that he received a record of his vaccination, but is unsure how the government will deal with any sort of vaccine passport. “I believe our government (CDC) will follow up this issue,” he says.

Help from others

Chau says the Airport Authority has been helpful in getting through this time, allowing for deferred payments, as an example. “Also, the Airport Authority offered us a shopping area at landside to serve our customers. A lot of customers still visit the airport because they enjoy the airport shopping environment,” he says. Chau is grateful for any and all help during this challenging time. “I must take this opportunity to give thanks for the support of our colleagues, their friends and family, our business partners such as duty free media, suppliers and our government, especially Airport Authorities and International Airport Business Development Association,” he says. “With your great support, we will continue to serve our customers during this difficult period.” ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING


Guest Column

Restart rise on the

Vietravel plans to equitize subsidiary Vietravel Airlines in its second year to boost its success as the first travel airline in Vietnam

Bamboo Airways plans to become a five-star airline in Vietnam by 2023 with the help of airline consulting company Yates+Partners


In this guest column, Keerthi “HappyK” Hapugasdeniya, Founder of HappyK Solutions, gives an update on two key airlines in Vietnam, plus a snapshot of the country’s plans to reopen come September

Keerthi “HappyK” Hapugasdeniya, Founder, HappyK Solutions


t has been a hectic few months after going through deep COVID restrictions in Vietnam, with the travel and tourism sectors facing many challenges. With predictions of a fourth wave, some cities are locked down with the public encouraged to stay home. This is not good news for domestic travel. I recently spoke to Director of Tourism Mr. Binh Nguyen who says the city of Da Nang is not waiting for international tourists, but rather is changing tourist criteria to welcome local travelers who have do not have the option to travel overseas. He tells me the city has hosted a number of successful activities in the past few months to reconnect locals after a year of silence. The city plans to keep the events going for the rest of the year. If the virus disturbs the plans, the city will respond appropriately to keep people safe. Like in many other countries, airlines in Vietnam are re-evaluating business plans to adapt to the unpredictable environment. According to Vietnamplus, Vietravel plans to equitize subsidiary Vietravel Airlines in its second year to boost its success as the first travel airline in Vietnam. Vietravel will hold the founding share and remain the majority shareholder. Vietravel Airlines, headquartered at Phu Bai International Airport in the central city of Hue, debuted in December 2020 and aims to carry one million passengers by the end of its first year. Airline consulting company Yates+Partners entered an agreement with Bamboo Airways in May with the goal of helping the carrier become the first airline in the country to achieve a fivestar rating. As part of the partnership, Yates will advise the airline on products and services at all customer touch points; develop training classes for all employees; and, design a long-term consulting roadmap to achieve the goal by 2023. Bamboo is finalizing plans to operate regular flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles starting in September having received a permit last year from the US Department of Transportation to carry passengers and cargo to the country.

The Vietnam Ministry of Transport is confirming procedures to designate Bamboo Airways to operate charter flights to the US following a proposal from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) at the end of April. It will allow privately owned airlines to carry passengers and goods on charter flights upon approval by the Prime Minister and relevant agencies. Passengers could be experts, foreign investors and Vietnamese citizens in the US returning home. Bamboo Airways Chairman Trinh Van Quyet says the airline expects to operate charter flights to the US starting in July. This would make Bamboo Airways the only nonstop airline between Vietnam and the US. Meanwhile, the carrier also plans to launch new international direct routes to the Korea, China, the UK, Germany, Tokyo, Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore and Thailand.

Vacation in Vietnam

Vietnam is working to resume regular international passenger flights in September 2021. In the first phase of reopening, bundled flights and hotel packages will be an option for domestic travelers serving 14-day quarantines. In the second phase, which the government aims to implement from July, there will be focus on re-establishing routes with other countries. Four weekly return flights will run for each airline, in each destination country including Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Flights will be subject to quarantine capacity at all airports. The third and final stage begins in September, targeting daily return flights to each destination. Vietnam will accept travelers with a negative COVID-19 test result or vaccine certificate to serve a shortened seven- to 14-day quarantine at home. This phase depends on the progress of Vietnam’s vaccination program. The country plans to connect with those that have similar vaccination standards and COVID-19 travel protocols. CAAV says that local authorities will recognize international vaccine certifications issued by government-approved immunization establishments or approved by the World Health Organization. ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING




PASSENGER TRAFFIC HEADS EAST Check-in area at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport

As much of the world shut down for the COVID19 pandemic, airports in China moved to the forefront in passenger traffic last year



fter long dominating the world in yearly passenger traffic, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) slipped to second place in 2020 and was replaced at the top spot by Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN), logging more than 43.7 million passengers, compared to 42.9 million at ATL. The pandemic shift in airline passenger movement does not stop there. Seven of the 10 top airports in passenger traffic for 2020 are located in China. One in particular, Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport jumped to sixth place all the way from 48th, moving nearly 35 million passengers last year, according to the yearly statistics compiled by Airports Council International. ACI published the preliminary findings April 22, reflecting the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on what are ordinarily the world’s busiest airports. Global passenger traffic at the top 10 decreased by 45.7 percent in 2020. Overall, passenger traffic at the world’s airports decreased by 64.6 percent. “What we know about the Top 10 this year, is that it was very much affected by uneven travel restrictions in different regions,” explains Patrick Lucas, Vice President of Economics at ACI in Mon-


treal. While he says he expects ATL to return to the top spot for passenger traffic next year, airports in China, particularly Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) and the newly opened Beijing Daxing Airport (PKX) will remain in the Top 10. As passenger traffic lagged through much of the world, air cargo movement performed well by comparison, posting only a 12 percent decline from 2019. By the end of 2020, ACI reported that cargo volume had rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. What will drive more tonnage will be an increase in capacity, says Lucas.

“Cargo should get a boost when belly capacity recovers with the restart of international travel, mostly operated by wide body,” he says. “Online retail should stay strong and the overall industry recovery will likely fuel the demand for air cargo.” To increase the number of comfortable, confident passengers, groups like ACI are developing programs to stimulate demand by launching initiatives like the ACI Airport Health Accreditation Programme. They are also calling on world governments to reduce passenger-based taxes and economic regulation. “Airports should be free to tailor the structure and level of airport charges to their specific circumstances and develop targeted pricing strategies that meet their specific market situations,” says Lucas. Additionally, he says airports should have the freedom to set charges to cover operations and capital costs.





2 3


Number (millions) 2020


Guangzhou (CAN)




Atlanta (ATL)




Chengdu (CTU)





Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW)





Shenzhen (SZX)





Chongqing (CKG)





Beijing (PEK)





Denver (DEN)





Kunming (KMG)





Shanghai (SHA)



Moroccanoil Acceleration



orroccanoil has been focused on expanding both its line and its reach, putting the company in a stronger position than most during the past year. During the time leading up to the pandemic, the brand had introduced several omni-channel product launches plus a range of styling tools, in addition to the opening of the brand-new

Moroccanoil rolled out with 3Sixty Americas in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Dallas

Moroccanoil Academy, a state-of-the-art 8,500-square-foot facility in New York City, designed to provide hands-on, customized education to stylists. As part of this focus on expansion, Moroccanoil had already been working with Amazon on opening its brand store when the pandemic hit, according to Sebastien Levi, Vice President, Global Travel Retail – Direct Premium Retail

Europe for the brand; as we all know, travel was soon to come to a virtual standstill, and a large portion of in-store shopping moved online. Amazon’s Moroccanoil store had already been open for a few months when the world as we all had known stopped turning. “The expansion plan with Amazon came right on time,” says Levi.

Global expansion in Sephora

In addition to its business on Amazon, the well-known hair-care company has seen much success with Sephora. The brand has been available with this massive beauty retailer since 2016 in the US, and then expanded worldwide into Sephora Europe, LATAM and Asia. “We finally

The company benefitted from people wanting to take care of themselves at home. “We were less affected in comparison to other categories such as make-up,” says Sebastien Levi, Vice President, Global Travel Retail – Direct Premium Retail Europe, Moroccanoil. “We did have a downturn in sales but then we found new consumers and new behaviours. We believe the loyalty to the brand has increased.


opened Sephora Europe at the end of 2020,” says Levi. “The major shift is that instead of doing an omnichannel launch, we first launched digital and decided that we would postpone brick and mortar launch by a few months. This decision ended up being a blessing, in retrospect. It gave us the opportunity to learn from the first launch, which was digital, and then fine tune the launch for brick-and-mortar stores, which is happening right now. Additionally, it helped us have a voice during the pandemic through social channels beyond pure mere sales.” He adds that this also engendered the creation of a new mature e-commerce audience that had previously been uncomfortable with purchasing online.

Travel retail expansion

Levi says that before COVID hit, Moroccanoil had major expansion plans in travel retail, with partners such as Dufry in Latin Americas and Europe. “We had plans in Asia with different partners and all of that was stopped. We had additional rollout plans in North America. Now we are starting those conversations again, but it will take time. For retailers, the first step is to rebuild and restock using partnerships with their existing brands.” This being said, the company is seeing successes in travel retail in the past couple of months. “We just opened Milano Linate with Dufry, which is a major achievement for us. We rolled out with 3Sixty Americas in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Dallas; we’re very excited about that, with a newly designed gondola. We have just opened Macau airport with Shilla in Asia.”

Regional differences

In Asia, he says something akin to a recovery is taking place. “They were hit hard early in 2020. They’re not at the old levels yet but we like seeing the continuity of business there. And that is exciting. North America also looks promising. I mentioned 3Sixty, and also we see signs of recovery with DFA. This is a signal to me that things are improving.” Europe has been really up and down for the company. “We will get a good order, then no orders. My feeling after the

discussion with our European partners is that we might have a normal summer. We are seeing this in the orders that we received recently. If things keep improving in Europe, we might see a recovery in Europe starting July/August,” says Levi. While recovery is occurring or imminent in much of the world, the same cannot be said for Latin America. “As we know travel retail business in driven by the Brazilians. The horrible COVID situation in Brazil is a big hit for the country and for Latin American business,” says Levi. “There is no travel retail happening in Latin America, and we don’t see any real recovery until end of the year.”

Steady numbers

For countries with a strong digital presence, as is the case in North America, business has been quite good for Moroccanoil during the pandemic. “People who couldn’t buy our products from hairdressers would decide to buy online,” says Levi. “This is not going to be permanent. There is something special about going to the hairdressers and getting a treatment and advice and then buying the item.” The company benefitted from people wanting to take care of themselves at home. “We were less affected in comparison to other categories such as make-up,” he says. “We did have a downturn in sales but then we found new consumers and new behaviours. We believe the loyalty to the brand has increased. It proves that we are resilient and have strong positioning. This notion of self-care was very valuable for the brand during the pandemic. Products like pure Argan oil or dry body oil were very successful during this period. We offer a bar soap, and that worked extremely well.”

Sebastien Levi’s new role

Sebastien Levi is now in charge of Sephora Europe in addition to global travel retail. “I’m super excited, this is a blessing,” he says. “In my new role, I am now Vice President Global Travel Retail — Direct Premium Retail Europe.” Levi will be handling the launch and development of the brand at Sephora Europe, which will be approximately 300 stores in 12 countries. “This is a very exciting project, as it comes after a strong success with Sephora North America,” he says, adding that it will be especially interesting for him given the complementarity between the retail and travel retail channels, and also the strong digital expertise at Sephora. “My career in Cosmetics has been dominated by travel retail, but also with some episodes in Premium Retail, so I am very happy with my new position,” he says. ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING



Taking its time As HARIBO advances throughout Asia, the company is making sure to have its shapes, flavors and ingredient compliance 100% certain before fully engaging in the exciting Chinese market Fontana believes items with a crazy look, such as HARIBO Twin Snakes and Giant Dummies, will have particular appeal in Asia

Shapes and flavors for China Elisa Fontana, Head of Marketing Travel Retail, HARIBO


ell-known confectionery brand HARIBO is available domestically and in travel retail around the world, including parts of Asia, but is just beginning to enter the Chinese market. Elisa Fontana, Head of Marketing Travel Retail, says the company believes it can leverage credentials such as its use of highest-quality ingredients, range of snacking and gifting items and bright fun packaging to develop its footprint in Asia more widely and to break into “exciting” new markets such as China travel retail. Currently, HARIBO is working intensively to find the right ingredients, shapes and flavours to meet the needs and regulations of the Chinese duty free market, she says. “At HARIBO we are obsessed with quality. We do not enter a market until we are 100% sure of its compliance and our likely success, and this is the reason we are not present in the market yet. We aim to have an offer available very soon.”


In Asia, HARIBO has found great success with sharing bags of its most iconic treats such as HARIBO Goldbears and Happy Cola Bottles. The resealable versions for travellers are being very well received as snack items or as small gifts, says Fontana. “We also make cute gifts for children like the Travel Suitcase filled with mini-bags of jellies — kid-appeal and portion-control in one SKU.” “The latest flavours in the resealable pouch format are sure to be popular in Asia for their great taste and crazy look, including the HARIBO Giant Dummies, which are fruit jelly pacifier shapes, and the HARIBO Twin Snakes, the sweet and sour duo-flavour jellies.”

Travel exclusives

HARIBO is currently rolling out its travelexclusive Destination Collection. While only four European destinations are available now, the company is assessing the viability of extending the range to others, including key points in Asia. As travel resumes, HARIBO expects the split between gifting and self-consumption to be similar to pre-pandemic levels, which is roughly half and half. “HARIBO has a very loyal following in its established domestic and travel retail markets, so people are delighted to find new mixes, new flavours, travel-exclusive gift sets and sharing bags from a brand they know and love,” says Fontana.

Hainan and beyond

As a family-friendly city, Hainan seems the perfect place for HARIBO to spread its base in China. “The appeal of HARIBO products is multi-generational, crosscultural and non-gender specific, which is perfect for a family-friendly environment like Hainan!” enthuses Fontana. “The HARIBO brand ambassador we use in marketing displays and promotional activities is a bright yellow bear who stands out in-store and is adored by children (and adults) everywhere. Our brand really could not be better suited to a duty free paradise like Hainan.” Fontana believes there is immense potential for the brand in China. “It is a massive market, and its huge population is becoming more outward looking every year, with a penchant for international brands. We also know that German quality, which is renowned worldwide, has an impact among Chinese consumers. In addition, sugar confectionery has an advantage over the chocolate brands in that it is stable to transport and store, and has a fairly long shelf life, which makes it easier to sell into the disparate markets on the other side of the world. China Duty Free is expanding its reach all the time; with superb retail facilities and an increasingly diverse selection of brands across all categories. Its latest venture, Haikou International Duty Free City in Hainan province, is on schedule to open in June 2022. We would very much like to be there!”


Referencing Loacker’s series of new recipes, the title of its brand re-launch campaign, More than good, represents two themes: more taste and more sustainability

A call to action



his year, as part of a broader, long-term project aiming to re-position Loacker and speak directly to it “mindful” clientele, the confectionery company relaunched its brand with the support of its More than good campaign. Referencing Loacker’s series of new recipes, the title of the re-launch campaign represents two themes: more taste and more sustainability. Although the initiative started in 2019 with the introduction of the company’s communication platform, Goodness is a Choice, and its campaign of the same name, the brand re-launch strengthens Loacker’s “More than good” promise and reveals its proverbial goodness. At the core of Loacker’s re-launch is its new communication strategy, which showcases the power of storytelling. According to Yvonne Profanter, Head of Communication, Loacker, the campaign concept has developed into a manifestocommercial, which opens with a view of Monte Sciliar, the majestic massif of the Dolomites in South Tyrol, Italy. Profanter goes on to say this mountain range has always inspired the identity of the brand, symbolizing the lasting bond between the company and the place where it all started. With an emphasis on digital media, the campaign rollout will take place in the second half of 2021 across all relevant touchpoints. “The underlying themes of Loacker’s storytelling are the values and choices that have enabled the brand to create new recipes of its much-loved products – products that are truly more than good. “To a great extent, this has been made


possible by the company’s ability to verticalize the most strategic raw-material supply chains, which Loacker has implemented in order to ensure that its consumers can enjoy top-quality, sustainable ingredients – ingredients that enhance the natural taste of its products,” she states.

Balancing indulgence & sustainable living

As opposed to changing its direction, the pandemic simply enhanced the course of the re-launch. Beyond public concern of health and safety, Loacker realized COVID-19 generated a renewed sense of national unity and interconnectivity. Postoutbreak, there has been a strong increase in general interest about the importance of sustainability. “We know that consumers, especially younger generations demand that companies take more responsibility for the major challenges that humanity is facing – and this is exactly the direction we are moving toward with our projects on raw materials and packaging. However, indulgence still plays a role. Consumers don’t want to have to choose between a great tasting product and a clean conscience, they want both, and we think they have the right to,” explains Profanter.

Digital media consumption & communication

During the development of its campaign assets, Loacker has observed the impact of increased digital media consumption – applying digital channels means accounting for different types of media intake and delivering tailor-made formats. Furthermore, when it comes to digital sales,

Profanter states the number of consumers purchasing confectionery online has significantly increased during the first year of the pandemic and this newly acquired habit is here to stay. Profanter says the most tangible impact of COVID-19 on the re-launch was the need to adapt the standard communication methods of its customers and distribution partners. The pandemic caused Loacker to re-organize its three-day international live launch event and devise improved ways to effectively convey key messages.

Consumer reaction

Although its new and improved products have only started phasing onto shelves across global markets, Juan Miguel Cabrera, Business Director of Duty Free & Travel Retail, Loacker, says the company is looking forward to seeing the consumer reaction. Featuring a QR code, the brand’s new package design marks the first time Loacker has applied product packaging as a gateway. “With consumers requesting more information about our products, ingredients and QR project, the placement of our recipes and methods of communication on packaging is essential in order to engage both existing and potential consumers. “All of our new packaging will be on display at a later date – most likely at Cannes since More than good is still in early stages among our mature markets. The company is working hard to have everything set to re-launch at the end of Q3,” concludes Cabrera. ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING


Spirits Report


Predicting the future of

Licor 43 Horchata 700-ml; Goh at Zamora Company says he wouldn’t be surprised if there is a renewed sense of focus on “pre-travel” marketing via digital channels


Across the spirits category, key players discuss the revival of GTR spirit sales and the growing demand for blended whisky


espite the COVID-19 outbreak impacting international travel and travel retail sales, Allied Market Research (AMR) has predicted that spirit sales in the channel will revive as soon as the collective vaccine rollout leads to the lifting of travel restrictions. According to a recent report published by AMR, Duty Free Liquor Market by Type and Channel: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2021–2027, global duty free spirits totalled US$13.8 billion in 2018 and are expected to rise to US$16.1 billion by 2027. Additionally, the report states the category is likely to post the fastest compound annual growth rate to 2027, with a 12.2% increase led by growing demand for blended whisky. Following Europe, Asia Pacific earned the next largest share of this market in 2019.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey 1L; Jack Daniel’s Make It Count campaign is Brown-Forman’s best example of the corporation adapting its presence in the travel retail channel based on analysis of the domestic market


For a look at the rise and future of premium blends and an update on the spirits category, Asia Duty Free Magazine reached out to representatives of key players: Brown-Forman Corporation, Edrington and Zamora Company. Along with the above prediction and current blended whisky trend, we discussed the continued impact of COVID-19 and re-emergence of travel.

Restored interest to come

Since AMR’s prediction reflects Brown-Forman’s view of the future in regards to its American whiskies (Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester), as well as its single malt whiskies (Benriach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh), the corporation supports the basis of the report. “We are particularly bullish about the American whiskey category, since it experienced a global surge in new brands during the time period leading up to the COVID-19 lockdown. However, we are confident that the future popularity of American whiskeys both domestically and in travel retail will continue to be led by Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve. These brands help to set the standard for the category by being truly authentic, premium spirits of the highest quality with a great taste and easy mixability,” says Aude Bourdier, VP Managing Director of Global Travel Retail, Brown-Forman Corporation. Pointing out that the popularity of premium and exclusive whiskies started to increase pre-COVID, Bourdier says she doesn’t know if the lockdown adversely affected its momentum in any significant way. However, it is known that international travelers who normally purchase such products at duty free shops adapted their buying habits to domestic outlets during life in lockdown. This data is confirmed by Brown-Forman’s analysis of the increase in domestic sales of Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve and its single malt whiskies over approximately the past 15 months. “While there was a dip in sales of travel retail exclusives during the height of COVID-19 due to the overall decline in international travel, there is no reason to believe that the interest in such products will be diminished with the return to normalcy. In fact, there could potentially be the unleashing of pent-up interest in buying exclusive products and premium offerings and taking advantage of opportunities for deserved self-indulgence.

Naked Malt 750-ml; the re-launch of Naked Grouse – now simply called Naked – combines a fresh look and contemporary packaging and aims to make the whisky more accessible

“We see this as a potential bridge between traditional blended Scotch and single malt whisky and therefore, playing a role in our overall premiumization strategy in travel retail,” explains Speirs.

The re-emergence of international travel & rise of “pre-travel” marketing

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon 750-ml; Bourdier at Brown-Forman offers higher spend as one positive observation of COVID-era travelers

Brown-Forman believes that when international travel inevitably returns, the same prevailing reasons that great crafted spirits were so popular within the channel will re-emerge, perhaps with a vengeance,” comments Bourdier.

A potential bridge between tradition & freedom

Supporting the idea that blends have always been and will continue to be a significant driver of volume and a key tool for recruitment into the whisky spirits category, Jeremy Speirs, Regional Managing Director, Global Travel Retail, Edrington, touches on its re-launch of Naked Grouse – now simply called Naked. With the goal to make the whisky more accessible, Speirs states, the re-launch is an important step in the company’s blended malt strategy. Naked combines a fresh look and contemporary packaging with a “no-nonsense, highly versatile” product range – exclusively blending malt whiskies and using first-fill sherry casks. “For some consumers the category can be difficult to navigate and bound by convention; we want to give a new generation of buyers the freedom to try whisky their own way – whether that’s straight-up, on the rocks, in a cocktail or however they choose to drink it.

Brown-Forman remains broadly optimistic about the re-emergence of international travel. However, Bourdier notes that recent data and professional intuition prohibit the corporation from drawing conclusions about future travel patterns and behaviors. During the pandemic, the profiles of international travelers have been “remarkably unique and largely exacerbated,” with many COVID-era passengers booking a flight for reasons of an atypical nature – none of which encourage the traveler to prioritize shopping. On a positive note, Bourdier offers higher spend as one observation of COVID-era travelers. Regardless of lower passenger traffic, those who did spend on-site looked to maximize their allowance uncertain about their next opportunity to travel. With some luck, this trend will crossover into the next new normal. Meanwhile, leading up to the re-opening of borders, Edrington is fine-tuning its blends portfolio strategy with a soon-tobe launched virtual home that will feature a specific focus on education and renewed investment in product personalization. Speirs says this move is to help Edrington navigate a postCOVID world. During the lockdown, as a response to changes in consumption, particularly around off-trade purchases and home mixology, the company launched a digital signature serve campaign, A Classic Made Famous. Designed to inspire consumers to mix and share The Famous Grouse, the campaign asked individuals to create recipes showcasing new takes on classic serves. Speaking less about the recent shift in spend and consumption and more about the rise of e-commerce – and the supporting infrastructure – Alfred Goh, Area Director, Asia Pacific, Zamora Company, explains he wouldn’t be surprised if there is a renewed sense of focus on “pre-travel” marketing via digital channels to encourage consumers to think about and act on their duty free purchases before taking off. “Duty free outlets might pivot to play a role of ‘fulfillment’ rather than ‘experience’ in a world where social distancing is mandated and shopping experience is curtailed by restrictions in-store,” he states.

Studying the domestic market

Recognizing the main attraction of travel retail, Bourdier expresses the core essence of the channel is to offer something different, better and more exclusive than the domestic market. With this in mind, she explains travel retail needs to study and apply the developments of the domestic market as a foundation in order to set itself apart. This notion is especially necessary when it comes to the integration of brand messaging into social and communication platforms that transcend both markets. Bourdier sites Jack Daniel’s Make It Count campaign, which launched in March 2020, as Brown-Forman’s best example of this position. According to the Managing Director, the campaign has been successfully executed in all domestic markets and the travel retail team has studied its execution, with the intention to adapt it in duty free upon the return of international travel. ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING


Kavalan Whisky

Women in Business Profile: Kaitlyn Tsai at Kavalan Distillery

Kaitlyn Tsai, Brand Ambassador & Global PR Officer, Kavalan Distillery

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Tsai traveled to more than 15 countries representing Kavalan Distillery, conducting masterclasses and sharing its brand story and whisky portfolio by LAURA SHIRK


ollowing a career in the film industry in association with Above Taiwan Cinema, Kaitlyn Tsai, Brand Ambassador & Global PR Officer, Kavalan Distillery, returned to her hometown of Yilan, Taiwan, to contemplate her next move. Inspired to continue educating people worldwide about the small, beautiful country of Taiwan, Tsai aimed to find a way to share its cultural identity, rich history and natural beauty. In 2016, Tsai seized the opportunity to become a Kavalan Distillery brand ambassador. She wanted to generate awareness of the budding brand and promote Kavalan’s mission to create a new category in the global spirits industry – Taiwanese whisky. In her role as Brand Ambassador & Global PR Officer, Tsai builds brand awareness and drives customer advocacy of Kavalan by working with media partners to create content and planning client and employee workshops, promotional sessions and tasting events across the globe. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Tsai traveled to more than 15 countries representing the distillery, conducting masterclasses and sharing Kavalan’s brand story and whisky portfolio. She comments this experience hosting in-person events has allowed her to successfully navigate the transition from offline to online presenting. According to Tsai, since virtual meetings provide the ability to host groups of people in different countries on the same day, the benefits of working online far outweigh the challenges. “At the beginning of each event, I always start by introducing Kavalan as a single malt whisky from Taiwan, promoting not only Kavalan, but also the land it’s from. I explain how the natural beauty of Yilan County shapes a whisky known for its complexity, depth and smoothness. I still cherish the opportunity to let as many 48 ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING JUNE 2021

people as possible learn about Taiwan through drinking Kavalan Whisky,” explains Tsai.

A diverse, inclusive and supportive working environment

From interacting with the blending team and learning about its whisky production process to guiding consumers through the overall Kavalan experience, Tsai consistently helps to re-define the stereotype that spirits is a male dominated industry. The ambassador’s heard it been said that women have more sensitive noses and are therefore better at distinguishing the aromas released by whiskies. Whether or not this is the case, Tsai does not believe whisky should be claimed by a single gender and apparently, Kavalan agrees with this notion, as the male to female ratio at the Spirits Research Institute of Kavalan Distillery sits 5:4. “As the pioneer of the Taiwanese whisky industry, I am so glad Kavalan is also taking steps to create a more diverse, inclusive and supportive working environment. I will keep up the good work in my role as spokesperson – nothing more, nothing less,” adds Tsai.

Icons of Whisky Awards 2021

Earlier this year, in addition to Kavalan Distillery earning “Visitor Attraction” at Icons of Whisky Awards 2021, Tsai was named “World Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year.” When asked what sets her work apart from others in the industry, she says although she’s honored and humbled by the recognition, it’s not the outcome of her individual performance. “I am lucky to have the support of the entire hard-working team behind the first Taiwanese whisky distillery. Each member of the team has made the effort to establish and sustain the quality of Kavalan Whisky,” she notes.

Kavalan Artist Series

Over the next several years, Kavalan will be conducting a brand upgrade to further embrace and promote the culture of Taiwan. Tsai mentions the launch of Kavalan Artist Series, made in collaboration with Paul Chiang, Taiwanese Master Artist, is part of representative work to re-position the brand. This new range of expressions aims to showcase the fine art of whisky. Made up of four single-cask, caskstrength whiskies – Puncheon, Virgin Oak, French Wine Cask and Peated Malt – each limited-edition set includes a uniquely numbered and signed edition of one of two silkscreen prints by Chiang, Pisilian or Mountain Range of Taiwan.

More to come

As a company in its second decade, Kavalan is based on innovation and reputation. During the first half of 2020, the brand launched its first ready-to-drink products, Kavalan Highball Whisky Soda and Gin & Tonic, as well as Kavalan Distillery Select No. 2 Single Malt Whisky, to capture a broader market. Moving forward, Tsai reveals that the brand will continue to expand its global presence and create surprises to excite whisky drinkers. In the coming years, consumers can expect many more additions to its ranges and in terms of different casks used. Additionally, she says new peated malt whiskies are undergoing maturation, which should satisfy fans in the future.

A Self-Care Guide to Quarantine



re-COVID-19 the phrase “self-care” was often used loosely in association with mental, physical and emotional health. Fast forward a year, and the phrase has evolved to become a part of our shared vernacular. These days, the practice of self-care is not only a priority, but also a way of life for many people across the globe. From magazine covers to lifestyle listicles, it’s an easy search to learn more about self-care tips, tools and routines. During the pandemic, with more time available to commit to exercising and applying self-reflection and prioritizing health and wellbeing, people of all different types of backgrounds have discovered the practice and recognized its significance to help achieve a balanced life. It’s believed that following the lifting of restrictions and stay-at-home orders, the practicing of self-care will become a lifestyle trend with staying power. As a follow up to Duty Free & Travel Retailing Magazine’s previously published “Coping With Lockdown” article, the team reached out to a handful of industry professionals to find out how people working in travel retail are practicing self-care on a regular basis. From personal skincare routine to weekly exercise program (and everything in between), Neil Ebbutt, Director of Travel Retail, Rituals Cosmetics, Ashely Williams, Director of International Sales & Travel Retail, Oribe Hair Care, Fion Ng, General Manager, Travel Retail Asia Pacific, L’Oréal, and Christine Keeling, CEO, Long Haul Spa, shed light on their daily schedule.

NEIL EBBUTT, Director of Travel Retail, Rituals Cosmetics

I am fortunate to work for a company that is a big believer in promoting self-care and a healthy work-life balance. In regards to wellbeing, I take full advantage of Rituals’ self-care initiatives including guided meditations and “recharge” weeks. The lack of travel over the past 12 months has meant that I have spent much more time at home than usual, creating a relaxing sanctuary with candles from our Private, Mansion and Classic home fragrance collections. It also means that I have more time to spend with my family, so I have been joining my wife for Pilates classes from time to time. On a physical level, I try to keep reasonably active by participating in boot camp twice a week, walking more than 10,000 steps per day and playing golf in my spare time – always wearing SPF now that spring is here. I also treat myself to a Ritual of Samurai facial scrub, which is part of my morning routine. ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING


A Self-Care Guide to Quarantine

ASHLEY WILLIAMS, Director of International Sales & Travel Retail, Oribe Hair Care

During quarantine, I have been focusing on taking care of my body, mentally and physically, as a form of self-care. My Peloton stationary bike has allowed me to stay active, keep fit and benefit from regular exercise. I am also a fan of fragrances. However, with lockdown and few places to visit, I have decided to wear perfume in the house. Oribe is launching a series of new fragrances this fall, Côte d’Azur, Valley of Flowers and Desertland; it has been fun to pretend like I am getting ready to go somewhere, when I try on and play around with these products indoors. During this challenging time, I think it is important to let yourself have some fun, too.

FION NG, General Manager, Travel Retail Asia Pacific, L’Oréal

During the pandemic, I have learned to leverage social distancing to develop new, healthy routines. Although it might feel intimidating to start new habits, these positive changes have helped my family and I take charge during this time of uncertainty. I have developed a regular exercise routine of working out 2-3 times per week. With a shift to working from home, my hair and scalp tend to be greasy and dull. I have added to my weekly grooming routine a deep cleanse with Kérastase Chronologiste pre-cleanser and some pamper time with Kérastase Chronologiste hair mask. Every other day, I will give my skin an extra boost with a mask treatment, pairing SkinCeuticals Phyto-Corrective Masque for an instant soothing and calming effect; followed by SkinCeuticals’ signature antioxidant C E Ferulic for a complete defense against environmental aging. Spending more time at home, my family and I have started baking and cooking together. Last year, we made our firstever pizza bagel.


Located in Australia, I am lucky that life has returned to normal (for the most part). Following the guidelines of the Trans-Tasman bubble, we are able to travel internationally. However, the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry and loved ones back home in Canada is troubling. As a self-proclaimed skincare junkie, I like to turn on classical music and apply a hair, face and foot mask, simultaneously. Since I am unable to move because of the foot mask, all I can do is lie down and meditate (or nap) – pure bliss! As part of my exercise regimen, I practice yoga or Pilates several times a week and paddleboard once a week. I also spend time with my pair of Labradoodles and benefit from “pooch therapy” to help recharge. Additionally, my daily de-brief over cocktails with my better half allows me the opportunity to review my workday and receive objective feedback. 50 ASIA DUTY FREE & TRAVEL RETAILING JUNE 2021

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