Travel retail design – innovation is key to customer experience

7th May 2014

Barber are excited to be at the forefront of travel retail design innovation. Our large scale branding and retail design projects for clients such as the brand new Kai Tak Ferry terminal in Hong Kong give us the competitive edge to understand the ever-shifting commercial dynamics and novel opportunities created by the evolving design of travel hubs such as airport terminals and the retail spaces contained within them.

Duty free at the airport

The level of engagement between consumer, brand and product are constantly evolving, with major implications for the future planning of travel retail spaces. In many airports the retail areas have become a predictable mix of the same cast of brands – and the onus is now on airport retail designers to use this space to mix it up a bit and create something different – to attract both airlines and passengers to sample a unique experience, such as the local street food stalls that we recently wrote about at Manchester Airport.

Of course, many airports still have a long way to go to reach this goal. Despite the quality and quantity of passengers passing through such areas each day, they need to think outside the box and seek innovative ways to design and develop retail areas with a complementary mix of brands to entice and excite shoppers, rather than providing them with the same old gallery of rogues at each destination which can make some airports – and even countries – difficult to distinguish when the same blend of faceless brands are presented in the same uniform fashion at each destination.

The airport terminal should also recognise – and respond to – it’s limitations and play to it’s strengths. Airports will never compete with the high street or major shopping malls as an all-inclusive place to shop but they can provide a snapshot of luxury, lifestyle, value or local culture – depending on where they are situated and the type of people travelling through. This must be done in a creative and resourceful way without compromise – to provide a unique experience which can meet the varied needs of their potential customer base.


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