MIDDLE EAST. Travel retail advertising and marketing initiatives in the Middle East are having a greater impact on consumers than those in other regions, according to a recent report by Swiss research agency m1nd-set.

The study consolidated traffic data from IATA with m1nd-set’s shopper insights via its Business 1ntelligence Service. It was based on 4,000 interviews with passengers who have travelled recently through Middle Eastern airports.

Industry stakeholders in the Middle East were awarded higher than average scores for advertising, when surveyed on their marketing and communications.

Online advertising was the biggest influencer among all forms of marketing and communications in travel retail in the Middle East

The survey indicates passengers travelling in the Middle East are more sensitive to above-the-line and below-the-line advertising than travellers in other regions, according to m1nd-set. This includes online advertising, billboards at the airport or in the city and magazine adverts.

The study highlighted the importance of reaching passengers in the Middle East at the point of booking, particularly as 43% of shoppers surveyed decided to purchase before leaving for the airport.

The region also leads the rankings for the effectiveness of promotional areas and for the impact of sales advisors in converting travellers to shoppers. Around 64% of shoppers who interacted with sales advisors said their purchasing decision was influenced by staff.

Around 43% of duty free shoppers in the Middle East make the decision to purchase before leaving for the airport, while 34% decide to buy at the store

According to the research, travellers in the Middle East were also more sensitive to word-of-mouth recommendations than passengers travelling in other regions. Recommendations from friends and family were vital, the research found.

Among the key categories, beauty was the top product area visited and purchased. Souvenirs and confectionery rounded out the top three, and alcohol was also in the top five. Beauty claimed the highest share of the passenger wallet in the region, accounting for 30%.

He added: “We are conducting post-marketing campaign research. We analyse the physical, psychological and emotional paths to purchase to optimise future campaigns through a more comprehensive understanding of the key shopper profiles. This is producing some extremely interesting and actionable results.”

Over the past two years, traffic in the Middle East has grown considerably: by over +9% in 2016 and +4.2% in 2017, reaching 232 million passengers last year, according to IATA. The region’s aviation market is set to increase by +5% annually over the next two decades, compared to a global average of less than +4%.

Passenger traffic in the Middle East is expected to reach around 520 million per year by 2036. Around 15 markets on the African continent will see annual growth of more than +7% over the next two decades.

The Middle Eastern aviation market is set to grow by around +5% annually over the next 20 years

“The report clearly shows that the future is looking bright for the Middle East, given the traffic forecasts for the region over the near future and long term,” said m1nd-set Owner and CEO Peter Mohn.

“We have seen some interesting results with certain clients, where we have analysed the key shopping preferences, attitudes, average spend and communication touch points for the key nationalities in the region and helped them use the category specific analysis to increase penetration and conversion rates.”