Our lives have a tendency to accelerate as time goes on.
Everyday things like cleaning, cooking, commuting, work, spending time with family and friends all need their allotted time-slot. When people stop being conscious and do these things just to cross them off the list, a sense of urgency and busyness creeps into their lives.
The kind of consciousness needed to stop the endless rushing in modern days has been perfectly described by David Foster Wallace in his essay "This Is Water". A shorter, animated version of the speech can be found here.
In normal circumstances, retailers have to fight for the shopper's limited attention, time and budget. But what happens when these resources shift just a little bit in favor of retailers?
Aeronautical traffic growth
The International Air Transport Association expects the number of aeronautical passengers to double in 20 years time. Lower ticket fares, rising security, more comfortable trips and globalization cause more and more people to choose airports as part of their business or leisure trip.
Since some time ago, there is a big tendency to make airports bigger (of course), but also to make them more interactive and enjoyable for those who are waiting for their next flight.
In such a scenario, a big part of the existing and developing infrastructure is reserved for retailers who find it more and more promising to be present on airports. To understand why this is, we need to turn our attention to the part which should always get the most attention, the shopper.
On average, a person who uses airports as a way of traveling has a bigger budget than your average shopper.
Firstly, there are business travelers whose expertise is on such a demand that they need to be flown in to provide a solution. There is no argument that these people can afford to buy lots of goods, usually branded and high-quality items.
Secondly, there are tourists who use airports as the first step to kick-off their vacations. Those travelers are also carrying more currency than usual, as it is human nature to spend more during vacations.
On top of the budget, the most critical part of retailer success at airports is the allotted traveler's time.
Missing a plane is quite an inconvenience so most people err on the side of caution when deciding how early to arrive at the airport. It is hard to judge the time one will need to wait for luggage drop-off and passing security (unless one travels in business class with all the benefits, of course).
Because of this, upon arriving at the airport and after passing security checks, people find themselves with plenty of time on their hands. Bored and with time reserved to waiting for the flight they are the perfect shopper retailers wish for.
Airplanes are usually very conservative with the size of luggage travelers can bring on board. Therefore, on airports, there is a big tendency for shopping for goods which don't take up much size.
Such items are present in fashion, jewelry, electronics (gadgets), cosmetics, food and beverages and souvenir shops. The accent is usually always on the more luxurious items of a brand because of the limited selling space and the usual airport shopper profile. Furthermore, depending on the region's regulation, prices of some items, namely alcohol, and tobacco, can be lower because of duty-free zones.
Airport retail future
Local governments understand more and more how big of an effect airports can have on the image of the region. Airports are the first thing a traveler sees upon landing on new soil and have the first impression effect of the whole city or country.
Having this in mind, major airports, in collaboration with retailers, are investing heavily to make their spaces more innovative and enjoyable.
Furthermore, there is a tendency, especially in Asia, for airports to become community centers of the surrounding areas, similar to what big malls used to be in the US.
We have explored the reasons why retailers at airports can have an advantage. Using an analytics system they are able to validate their innovative ideas which lead to an increase in brand excellence and profitability.