Engaging the traveller in the digital age
Tito’s Handmade Vodka Managing Director International John McDonnell used his Trinity Forum address to ask how the channel should better engage the modern consumer.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka has become one of the world’s fastest growing spirits brands by tapping into the modern consumer’s desire for authenticity and craft products. The challenge for the travel retail industry, said Managing Director International John McDonnell, is to match what some brands are doing across the world to maintain the relevance of the channel.
“I represent a brand that’s disrupting, and I’ve also worked for brands that have been disrupted,” he said. “But I want to talk about disruption in an increasingly digital world. And I want to talk about it in a positive sense, where we can create a win for the airport authority, a win for the retailer, a win for the manufacturer. And I have a fourth win – a win for the customer.”
“We are possessed by our devices,” continued McDonnell. He cited evidence that Millennials and the i-Generation spend five hours a day on their phones, checking for notifications 300 times a day. It’s not just these generations, however. This is becoming an increasing reality for people of all ages.
“Digital partnerships are popping up everywhere. Uber works with Starbucks. Uber works with United Airlines. Airbnb can do it. Amazon can do it. Why can’t we?”
This is the consumer we are faced with today, and competing for their attention are e-commerce providers that are not only ahead digitally but now even expanding into physical retail. “Amazon has taken it one step further,” he said, referencing the company’s ‘store without walls’ concept, which blends the best of its online offering with the customer service and personal element of physical retail. In McDonnell’s words, “they realise that, even in a hi-tech world, people do still want to interact sometimes”.
Physical retail, then, is still relevant. But how can we blend the digital with the physical to ensure we remain relevant to young consumers?
What the customer wants, said McDonnell, is “instant gratification”. He cited examples of various delivery apps from around the world that bridge the (physical) gap between maker and buyer, with the success of food delivery apps now leading to the same for the world of wine & spirits.
Drizly is one such app. McDonnell explained that the US company “connects liquor stores with consumers”. Users enter their location and are given the option of three or so nearby stores. They can compare prices and pay varying delivery charges depending on the requested time window. Over half the usage of the app is by under 35s.
What is interesting about Drizly, he said, is that “the wine & spirits wholesalers of America, all the distributors, all came together to endorse this platform. Not only do they endorse the platform, they invested in the platform.”
Why, asked McDonnell, can the Trinity not come together to do the same?
“Millennials and iGen stare into their phones. So from the time they get to the airport to the time they get to their gate, they look up four or five times. One to get out of the Uber. Two to check in. Three to use the facilities. And then four when they get their boarding pass checked to get on the plane. The rest of the time they are sitting outside your store. Reading. Not buying. Because they really don’t understand what duty free is all about.
“When they book their travel arrangements, 67% do it all digitally. And when the Millennial gets to the airport, 77% of their purchases are online, from pre-ordering food to paying for parking. Everything is digital for these two generations.
“Digital partnerships are popping up everywhere. Uber works with Starbucks. Uber works with United Airlines. Airbnb can do it. Amazon can do it. Why can’t we?
“Millennials and iGen stare into their phones. So from the time they get to the airport to the time they get to their gate, they look up four or five times. Not buying. Because they really don’t understand what duty free is all about.”
“Why can’t we just have one app? That’s what these generations are demanding. That’s how we can grow our business. That’s how we can make more profit per square foot. And I think all the organisations that we support and work with should all come together and work as partners. We are not competitors in this. We are partners.
“Our customers want this application. I’ve spoken to a number of Millennials. They would love this opportunity to pre-order their duty free before they get to the airport.
“Who wins? The airport authority, the retailer, the brand, the manufacturer, but most importantly the customer. Because you communicate with the customer before they get to the airport. It’s good for all of us.”
The Moodie Davitt e-Zine | Issue 252 | 16 November 2018