Duty calls gin

“Even in Spain, where we are the leading independent gin and have overtaken Hendrick’s, I am not fully happy with our duty free presence. We are present in every major duty free outlet, but it might be our positioning and whether we are in every terminal. It’s an endless battle.”

Ultimately, Ehrenkrona says growing distribution and maintaining shelf presence in GTR takes significant investment and manpower – something smaller brands find it hard to achieve over the long term. Nonetheless, he remains committed to the sector and believes a new aged line extension called Nine Months, due to be launched by Martin Miller’s in May, will be a good fit for travel retail.

If travel retail affords smaller brands the time and space to talk to customers, it also gives bigger, more established gins the chance to fight back, staging elaborate and multi-level promotional activations targeted at tech-savvy millennial travellers.

A case in point was Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Europe’s recent Spirit of London promotion, which was created to promote the launch of the Beefeater Spirit of London 2014 Limited Edition bottle, and which won a Frontier Award at last year’s TFWA World Exhibition.


The activation ran at London Gatwick airport in partnership with World Duty Free (WDF) and promised to give travellers passing through duty free a “gin journey”. The centrepiece of the activation was a Union Jack-painted British Mini car placed in the store next to a pop-up bar serving complimentary Beefeater cocktails. Passengers also had the opportunity to take selfies on their phones, upload them to Instagram, and then display the shots on the store’s video wall.

The snaps could also be printed on to a Polaroid and given to travellers as a gift along with a cocktail book and a guide to the Beefeater distillery.

Says Caroline MacIntosh, digital marketing manager Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Europe: “If we win with millennials now, like we have done with the award-winning Beefeater Gin Spirit of London digital campaign, we can learn how to keep our brands at the forefront of their minds as they get older and start to seek new brands and products in line with their developing tastes.”

For as long as gin remains a hot category among millennial travellers travel retail is likely to be a growth market both for the leading players and newer, start-up craft brands.

The challenge for the latter is to expand their often regional, often city-based following, and to find the resources to maintain their presence on shelf long term in what is a very high-cost retail environment.