More than Toblerone


Travel locations provide a great opportunity for gift retailers, but too often they miss out by limiting the category to souvenirs.

The global gift market is forecast to be worth $31.6bn by 2021. The gift market is defined in different ways, ranging from GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furnishings and other stores) at its widest, to souvenirs at its narrowest. Despite airports widening their gifting offer to exploit this growth, with most now dedicating 10-20% of their airside units to the category, often they are missing a trick by not including a broader range of gifts. Millennials, for example, like gifts to include an element of self-expression which ranges from art to stationery and house plants. 

In our work with travel locations across the world we have found a successful gifting offer will include one or more of the following:

  • Assortment: most SKUs should be small and light enough for the passenger to carry in addition to their carry-on luggage

  • Appropriateness: are the products legal in the destinations the travel hub is serving, and are they culturally appropriate (e.g. South African biltong might not work for Indians, nor would alcoholic pralines for Emiratis)?

  • Authenticity: the brand or offering needs to have a true link to the country to work as a gift, as well as a self-treat, and it will also help to create a sense-of place

  • Choice: the gifting offer at a travel hub needs to appeal to both visitors to the country / city, as well as the locals

  • Differentiation: exclusivity is key to driving conversion. This could be delivered through gift-wrapping, with items becoming keepsakes in themselves (think Tiffany's), or offering "airport exclusives" / product lines limited to the travel hub.

Some good examples include the Harry Potter Store at St Pancras Station, which takes advantage of the location, with platform 9 ¾ being a point of pilgrimage for Harry Potter fans. In addition, the product mix targets young and old across a wide range of price points and categories ranging from clothing, tech, books and confectionery to homeware and collectors’ items such as wands and artwork.

At Hong Kong Airport, the HKTDC Design Gallery offers an eclectic product assortment that appeals to tourists and locals alike by featuring the work of 500 Hong Kong designers. It was established by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, with the Design Gallery's mission being to promote the creativity, innovation and excellence of Hong Kong products. The assortment ranges for electronics, gifts, fashion and jewellery to houseware and baby products.

The Piazza del Gusto at Milan Malpensa (seen above) is dedicated to the great flavours of Italy, combining restaurants and a 500sqm fine food gifting store "Emozioni" in a way that conveys the essence of the world's most popular cuisine, with a very democratic assortment from low ATV artisan pasta to premium wines.

Christina Roseler