Opinion: Challenge the status quo in travel retail, says Victorinox

Thomas Bodenmann: ‘Act local, think big’

In this guest piece, Victorinox Head of Global Channels Thomas Bodenmann talks about how lifestyle brands can inspire, guide and motivate consumers, and broaden interest in the travel retail offer.

For all the investment and creativity on display in travel retail, it’s a channel which – by and large – keeps to relatively tried and trusted formulas. This is particularly true in terms of retail mix and the adherence to ‘core categories’.

Today, travel retail remains structured around four main categories: perfumes & cosmetics, liquor & tobacco, confectionery & food and fashion & accessories – an outdated approach which limits growth opportunities and is restrictive for consumers.

The COVID pandemic has accelerated a shift that was already progressing at pace, with consumers increasingly aligning themselves with brands which reflect their lifestyle choices, are purpose-driven, and which are more in tune with trends such as wellness and wellbeing.

This shift presents a real opportunity for lifestyle fashion & accessories brands, which are sometimes disregarded by travel retailers. As travellers eventually emerge from lockdown and take to the skies, we must ensure that our channel reflects this new consumer landscape and puts customer experience front and centre.

There is no better time than now to shake up travel retail. Let us – The Trinity – not revert to the same rigid, segmented approach. Let’s instead focus on being a best-in-class platform for brands to interact with consumers.

Victorinox: Creating an emotional connection and loyalty among consumers (Photo: PPR/Dominik Baur)

Step in, lifestyle

Lifestyle brands have a big role to play in offering improved customer engagement and an entire brand experience. Lifestyle brands are effective because they seek to inspire, guide, and motivate consumers. They understand the experiences that their audience craves, as well as the people, things, and places that inspire them.

With this in mind, isn’t it time that we saw more affordable and new lifestyle brands entering the travel retail arena. Luxury brands are important, of course, but putting so much focus on that one area is not sustainable in the long term. Considering that the average spend per passenger is significantly lower than the price of a designer handbag, there needs to be more mid-range premium brands that offer value and functionality.

The lifestyle opportunity opens many doors and offers consumers an entire brand experience. The lifestyle category introduces multiple product categories – from accessible, impulse items such as multi-tools or pens to luggage – and provides a chance for upselling.

Consumers may go into a store looking for a pen or wallet, be immersed in the brand’s universe and come out with a new laptop bag to match their wallet. Standalone stores especially enable lifestyle brands to showcase their entire cross-category product assortment and the advantage for retailers is that they can maximise synergy between product categories.

Design and function: The ethos behind the legendary pocket knife translates to other Victorinox collections

Lifestyle brands and loyalty

At Victorinox we make products the way we would like to have them ourselves, meaning outstanding Swiss quality with solution-oriented functionality. We believe in innovation for smart, creative, contemporary products and our no-frills iconic design is based on simple, distinctive and clean lines. These brand values are defined by our promise to consumers. As a result, the emotional connection between us and our fans is authentic. We make products for them and they choose our products because they love them. This is how we inspire each other – ‘Made by us, loved by you’.

Brands that nurture emotional bonds with their customers tend to outperform top companies listed on the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 in both revenue and profit. Not only that, they can also build higher levels of trust, which in turn breeds a more loyal consumer base over time. This is certainly true of Victorinox. We have incredible brand loyalty; customers consider our products almost like a companion that they can count on.

Everything we do at Victorinox is based around customer experience and creating products that can support their everyday lifestyle. We use Swiss engineering to ensure NPD lives up to the high standard of the Swiss Army Knife. For example, the seamless experience of the legendary pocket knife is translated to our luggage collections – great design and functionality means that customers can rely on our products.

Victorinox is a world-famous, multi-category brand with a global footprint and a long-term view. Although we are a big company, we remain agile and quick to react thanks to our ‘act local, think big’ philosophy. Our product offer is relevant, backed by Swiss engineering, and we have a solid structure in place to service the brand in travel retail. There is no better time than now for Victorinox to become more visible in travel retail and, ultimately, support the industry’s recovery.

When people begin travelling again, we want to welcome them back to airports with a stimulating retail offer that is reflective of the new ways consumers are engaging with brands and the huge momentum behind lifestyle and wellbeing brands. Now more than ever, it is vital that the travel retail industry adapts and challenges the status quo.

Food & Beverage The Magazine eZine