INDIA. Flemingo-run Mumbai Duty Free is rolling out its ‘Duty free is now free’ campaign from Mumbai International to further locations in India, as it builds on rising penetration and average transaction values in the early months of the promotion.

The programme began in mid-July after Mumbai Duty Free struck partnerships with local and national brands to offer discounts and vouchers on their products and services. Major partners in the opening months included Vodafone, Citibank, Indian travel website Ixigo, online fashion retailer Myntra, homeware retailer Urban Ladder and others. Vouchers are offered in a gift wallet that travellers receive after spending over a certain threshold in arrivals or departures.

The campaign is among the biggest Mumbai Duty Free has undertaken, and reinforces the value on offer in the stores and through key partners

The wallet is worth more than US$200 for a spend of US$60 in departures and on arrival the value reaches over US$300, said the retailer.

Mumbai Duty Free Marketing Manager Nidhi Aggarwal told The Moodie Davitt Report: “These partners get access to India’s best customers and we gain from our extended reach through them. The partners communicate about the campaign, helping us reach out to consumers. It gives exclusive value for the customers and it is marketing for our brand without us spending our own money.

“We are seeking international authenticity and exclusive benefits for the customer. These should drive penetration and ATVs and have done so far.

“We hope customers will see this as a talking point. We are using our in-store assets such as our digital wall and promoters holding wallets that talk up the fact that Mumbai Duty Free is now free.”

Furniture specialist Urban Ladder is one of many partners in the first phase, with new brands to come early next year

Vodafone customers who sign up for example receive US$15 off their International Roaming pack on spending US$60 in departures duty free.

Through Citibank, Mumbai Duty Free is giving 10% cash back to shoppers on a minimum spend of RS3,000 (US$46) and on pre-ordered goods the rate is 15% (up to 31 January 2018).

Aggarwal said: “The campaign is wide-reaching, through on-airport advertising and geo-targeting. Citibank has activated more than 20 outdoor hoardings with these messages, and if you are a Citibank customer who lands in Mumbai it sends you a message about discounts in arrivals. Anyone registered in India with Citibank can benefit.”

Some elements of the campaign are for arriving passengers only, with a connection to downtown Mumbai partners.

Aggarwal said: “We held our Whisky Festival in September and October, with the best assortments and brand promotions, but we asked ourselves what more we could give as added value to shoppers? Number one, your dining is on us. We have connected with a series of restaurants through table reservation website eazydiner to give value of around US$15 off. Number two, we have signed up 15 bars (through www.allthingsnice.in) that will offer -15% off your alcohol bill and that is significant in India at downtown prices. These are also A-list bars that attract those people who often travel internationally and will spend.”

She added: “But we don’t stop there. Palladium is the leading Mumbai luxury mall with all the major fashion names. Until the end of December we offer US$15 off retail and dining at the mall once people spend over the threshold at Mumbai Duty Free. It has had an excellent redemption rate with some leading brands, many of which you rarely see discounts on. Now we are looking at the next level: to merge the monthly in-store campaign with the offering like we did with The Whisky Festival. For the upcoming Christmas campaign, we will again be delighting select shoppers with a surprise gift.”

The promotion is emblazoned across Mumbai Duty Free’s store environments (above and below) in a bid to drive conversion and average transaction levels

On the programme to date, Mumbai Duty Free said it aimed to “move away from aggressive price comparisons with other airports”. Aggarwal noted: “It’s not easy to gauge prices between airports in our region. It confuses the customer and even more so when prices are often dictated by particular promotions. In fact, many of them don’t care about small price differences; it’s more about getting value and authentic product.

“We also have more brands who want to come onboard but we cannot give too much away at once. It must be a longer game, about spreading the word and choosing the appropriate brands that already appeal to the customers, whether they are local, national or international brands.”

The current mix of partners continues until January to benefit from the seasonal peak. In February the mix of partners and brands will change as the programme evolves.

“Now we are taking this to other places where we operate. It launched in Mumbai, then went to Chennai in September. Although it is smaller the excitement there is huge and both penetration and ATV has risen. In October we expanded the programme to our arrivals store in Kolkata too.

“We are changing it the whole time. But the concept of making duty free ‘free’ will stay and become part of the marketing programme.”