From the Publisher

And so we step boldly into the third decade of the 21st century. With the 2010s behind us, are we headed into a new ‘roaring 20s’ era, a century on from a decade that carried that name due to the prevailing mood of mass consumerism, economic buoyancy and technological innovation?

Where the 1920s brought then cutting-edge products such as radios and washing machines to consumers across the Western Hemisphere, these 20s are certain to be much more Eastern-dominated and digitally rather than mechanically themed.

That is certainly the case for us. Over most of the first two decades of this century The Moodie Davitt Report has tracked the travel retail industry globally with a depth, breadth and immediacy that would have been impossible in the pre-digital age. Our initially whimsical tagline ‘The website that never sleeps’ (coined in 2003) has become a reality, such is the constant stream of information that flows into and from our team of journalists.

Martin Moodie

This infographic, presented by Alibaba Global Business Group President Angel Zhao at The Trinity Forum 2019 in Doha, underlines the astonishing growth of the Chinese ecommerce giant. Alibaba’s Singles’ Day, also known as 11.11, is the world’s largest online shopping festival and generated a gross merchandise volume of US$30.8 billion last year. Alibaba, Ms Zhao said, plans to play an integral role in the ‘New Travel Retail’, a concept based on increased digitisation to enhance the consumer shopping experience.

Watch this (digital) space: Fliggy Buy, launched in early 2019, is Alibaba’s online travel service platform that allows Chinese travellers to make purchases online at duty free and tax free shops, international retailers and speciality stores overseas. All, of course. before they leave home.

This is our last eZine of the decade, comprising a look back on the key events, images, videos and industry developments of the year. But it also looks forward, nowhere more insightfully than in Philip Morris International SVP Global Communications Marian Salzman’s acutely insightful ‘20 consumer, political and lifestyle trends for 2020’ (page 19).

Marian has an impressive track record at this sort of thing. It was she who predicted the rise of ‘metrosexuality’ and declared that “sleep is the new sex” (sounds worrying for a website that never sleeps) and I am particularly drawn to her observation that the craving for person-to-person interaction has never been higher. With digitally connected lives (through WeChat, Skype, WhatsApp), we no longer experience human contact like we used to, Marian notes. “And we miss it.”

Think about the following extract from her article. “More and more, each of us lives within our own individualised, personally curated bubble, listening to playlists streamed exclusively to our ears, hunched over entertainment on our tiny devices, connecting with colleagues via text rather than in person. Workday lunches have been replaced by group chats on Microsoft Teams. And we are feeling the impact. At our core, humans are social animals. We need contact—and not just emotional, but physical.

Trending: How travel retail industry language has changed in a decade

*Number of times the term was used in a story on The Moodie Davitt that year;

** Drawn from the Chinese word ‘Wanghong’ [ 貢븐 ], the term came into popular usage around September 2009

This photograph, taken by Martin Moodie at the opening of Ever Rich Duty Free’s new-look T2 store at Taoyuan International Airport in November, sums up what ‘phygital’ is all about. Digitisation, yes (in this case a virtual lip-stick tester), but bolstered by a strong element of human service.

Which leads me to how I see travel retail and airport commerce developing in the 20s. Yes, the age of digitisation will accelerate, both in commerce and communication terms. Yes, artificial intelligence will grow in importance (look out for a major exclusive story from The Moodie Davitt Report in early January that examines the unprecedented use of AI to create a breakthrough product). And yes, mobile platforms will continue to dominate (to the point of obsession) the lives of emerging generations just as they have gripped the older ones – as the radio did in the 1920s.

Human meets humanoid: Martin Moodie gets up close and personal with a digital friend at Daxing International Airport

But personalisation, customisation, humanisation and differentiation – multiple expressions of a similar human need to express individualism – will find increasing voice. Human service will grow, not diminish, in importance; the key senses of touch, taste, smell and feel will become more important than ever before in an age where a tap of the keyboard or a swipe of a device delivers a price comparison or a purchase but no personal interaction.

Other well-documented consumer trends of the recent 2010s will also gather strength. Provenance, environmental and wider CSR credentials, authenticity and heritage are not new consumer values but they are now integral ones.

Drinks giant Pernod Ricard has conceived some masterful in-store activations and merchandsing to leverage the unique environment and audiences that airports provide (pictured: Ever Rich Duty Free’s new Taoyuan International Airport T2 store).

Lim Peck Hoon, Executive VP, Commercial, Changi Airport Group and William Grant & Sons Global Travel Retail Managing Director Ed Cottrell pictured at the brilliantly immersive launch of Glenfiddich Grand Cru in September

I believe the future of travel retail – and of airport commercial activities such as food & beverage – depends more on the embracing of these key consumer trends than it does on any geopolitical, macro or intra-industry issue (e.g. onerous concession fees) or even traffic growth.

As I have stated so often in recent years, airports (and downtown duty free shops) are a unique crossroads of humanity; crossroads which attract an ever-changing melting pot of consumers across nationalities, age, cultures and creeds. Anticipating, understanding and serving their needs and desires (the two are often different) is pivotal to our industry’s fortunes. Let airlines do the dumbing down of food for travellers, not airports; let the high street be the expression of innovation inertia, not the travel retail channel.

But as one of travel retail’s first digital disruptors (we launched in 2002 as an initially pure digital play in a market dominated by legacy model print titles), I do not underrate the critical and growing importance that digital communication and commerce will play in how our channel shapes in the future.

The Hennessy X.O Odyssey campaign fused digital media with experiential elements in one of the stand-out travel retail campaigns of 2020. Pictured is the stunning activation at Lotte Duty Free’s stand-alone Hennessy shop-in-shop at Incheon International Airport Terminal 2.

Mind-blowing? Yes, and also mind-reading. Guerlain revealed its latest innovation – a device that selects your fragrance by reading your mind – at its pop-up showcase in Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport this month.

‘Phygital’ may be an ugly word (it was invented by an Australian agency called Momentum in 2013) but it is also an apt one in expressing the key fusion of the physical and the digital that has become the hallmark of our industry at its best. 2019 was a year like never before of big online-to-offline activations by brands and travel retailers. Such activations have brought a spectacular new dimension not only to in-store activities but (largely through adept use of social media and influences) also in bringing a vast reach far beyond the immediate audience.

Airports and downtown duty free shops offer spectacular ampitheatres for great retail activity. It has been encouraging to see how spirits brands or houses such as The Macallan, Diageo, William Grant & Sons, Pernod Ricard and many others have started to leverage that status alongside their beauty sector counterparts. Confectionery brands have joined the party too, helping bring a new allure to a category that in my opinion too often still enjoys poor relation or even afterthought status in airport retail.

Yes, passenger traffic will grow strongly through the coming decade. Yes, Chinese spending will continue to power our industry. But those givens are not enough if our industry is going to do anything more than ride on the back of increased travel. Let innovation, collaboration and great consumer engagement (of product, environment and service) also grow. Let’s head boldly then into the roaring 20s. – Martin Moodie

The Moodie Davitt eZine

Issue 274 | 31 December 2019

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 20 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd).

© All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher.

To find out more visit and to subscribe, please e-mail