Lindt of Switzerland is sharing the results of a study into the premium confectionery sector, carried out in partnership with market research specialist m1nd-set at Zürich Airport. It was conducted on participants from a range of nationalities who had purchased confectionery in one of the duty free shops at the airport.

Insights from the study include: what drives chocolate purchase and decision making in the travel retail environment, details of the profile of the premium confectionery shopper, and what sets the premium category chocolate buyer apart from those who choose mass-market brands.

In particular, the new study has found that contrary to widespread belief, premium chocolate is a planned purchase – a substantial three quarters of those who purchased premium chocolate had planned the purchase. Of those, a quarter had made no decision in advance about the brand they would choose, but nearly half had a brand or specific product in mind. This pattern is quite different to the mass-market sector, Lindt noted, in which only a little over half of those purchasing had planned to buy in advance.

Conducted by m1nd-set at Zürich Airport, the study reveals insights into the premium confectionery shopper versus those who buy mass-market brands

Lindt & Sprüngli Head of Global Duty Free Division Peter Zehnder said: “Confectionery is in general a highly interesting category for retailers, the study revealed. The conversion rate of confectionary at 39% is considerably higher than that of other categories. That means confectionery could work as a door-opener category for travel retail purchase where so far only 7% of all passenger do buy in the stores. With a comparably low price-entry level confectionery could increase the shopping basket of travel retail shoppers in general.”

The study also highlighted the importance of premium chocolate as a souvenir purchase at Zürich Airport. Across the market, the quality of the product is cited (by 44%) as the main motivation for chocolate purchase, closely followed by country of origin (40%). However, at airports in cities such as Zürich, which is renowned for production of high-quality chocolate, the country of origin is further elevated and is the more important criteria – while just over a third of those questioned said they selected chocolate for its premium quality, over half quoted country of origin as the reason for buying chocolate.

“As premium confectionery is not only an impulse buy, but also a planned purchase, it’s important for retailers to dedicate the space to premium chocolate,” Zehnder underlined. “If customers can’t see what they want, they won’t buy it. The importance of the reputation of a country as a producer of fine chocolate means that Swiss premium chocolate has a significant role to play at airports looking to create a strong sense of place.”

“As premium confectionery is not only an impulse buy, but also a planned purchase, it’s important for retailers to dedicate the space to premium chocolate,” says Peter Zehnder

When it comes to choosing a particular brand, familiarity is the key driver, with 60% of confectionery buyers choosing a brand because it is a favourite and which they know and like. However there is a marked difference between premium and mass buyers with this figure shifting to 65% in the premium sector and 54% in the mass category. The reputation of the brand was also significantly more important to the premium buyers (49%) than those choosing mass-market brands (32%).

While all purchasers were driven by the popularity of a particular brand, some nationalities were more motivated than others. While 50% of Arab travellers chose a brand because they know and like it, this figure rises to 69% of Europeans and 65% of Russians. Similarly the reputation of a particular brand was important to just 31% of Arabs; this rose to 50% among Europeans, and a substantial 57% of Russians. Russians were also more inclined to choose a brand because it makes a good gift; this was a motivation for 48%, while it was a prompt to buy for just 31% of Americans.

Lindt will be revealing further details on this survey next month, including the profile of the premium customer, the promotions that will appeal to the premium customer and which type of travellers are attracted to a particular type of promotion. It will also be providing more information on the purpose of purchases in the premium confectionery sector, and details on the nature of gifting in the premium sector.