GTR: the future’s digital

At a dinner on Monday night in Cannes during Tax Free World Association (TFWA) show week, Pernod Ricard chief executive, Alexandre Ricard emphasised the importance of the global travel retail sector to the company.

Seeing the opportunity for the sector which continues to grow even in spite of the fear of terrorism, disease, natural disasters and currency fluctuations, Ricard foresees a “travel trail” opportunity for the company that extends beyond consumers just being at the airport walking past stands on the way to the departure gate.

Asked how he sees it, Pernod Ricard Americas Travel Retail’s marketing director, shopper and consumer experience, Aldo Barrios told Drinks International: “The digital world is evolving. There is a lot of opportunity to ‘touch’ people.

“It is a question of understanding the kind of journey people are undertaking. The challenge is to understand the shopper: How they travel and how to make their life easier.

“It is about the ‘last three feet,” he added, referring to getting the consumer to step over to the fixture.

He also sees the opportunity for people to pre-order and collect their goods either at their destination or on arrival back at their home airport.

Defending the global travel retail’s preoccupation with luxury, Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Europe’s marketing controller, Cristina Carmueja (pictured) explained that travellers want and aspire to luxury, be they travelling on business or holiday.

Although most of the headlines are about exclusivity and limited editions, she pointed out that the company has innovated exclusive travel retail packaging for the likes of mainstream Beefeater and Malibu.

She said: “ People have expectations for more premium and more luxury. We need to engage with the consumer across our portfolio, gin, whisky, rum – we are putting Havana Club into a carton, for example. We need to create attractive packaging.”

Again, the mantra: “We need to engage with the consumer.”

Asked which drinks categories were doing well in which regions, Barrios immediately responded with: “Cognac in the Americas”, while Carmuela cited: “Whisky, particularly single malts, in Europe and Asia”. She went on to add rum with the opportunity to develop the sipping, ‘serious’ side.  She expanded: “Rum has an appeal across men and women. Whereas, whisky is more men.  Rum is more approachable. You can have a Mojito or you can have a sipping rum,” she said.

Barrios said connectivity was important. In the Americas, the company has sponsored wi-fi in airports through its Perrier-Jouet champagne brand. Citing Alex Ricard’s “travel trail’ expression, Barrios spoke of the chance to scan a barcode on a bottle of Absolut vodka to get a cocktail recipe. Also, locking into the consumer before he or she are in front of the sku, so that they know more about, say, Chivas Regal before they even arrive at the airport or cruise line retail outlet.

Barrios summed up his and the company’s challenge as “the opportunity to reach people”.