INTERNATIONAL. The view that duty free shopping is a vital part of the travel experience and a desire to purchase exclusive products have contributed to an improved perception of travel retail, according to new research.

The Duty Free World Council’s KPI Monitor for the second quarter of 2016 showed a +6% improvement in shopper perception since Q4 2015 when its ‘Customer Satisfaction Index’ was launched.

The fact that the airport shop offers a unique experience and a place to buy gifts also contributed to the improved perception. However, there was a -2% decrease in the number of passengers who perceived duty free to be cheaper than elsewhere.

The KPI Monitor takes into account the views of more than 4,000 travellers worldwide and is produced in partnership with research and consulting agency m1nd-set.

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The DFWC Customer Satisfaction Index (Source for all charts: DFWC; m1nd-set)

There was a one percentage point increase in the Customer Satisfaction Index compared with the previous quarter. Europe and South America both saw a one point drop in overall customer satisfaction levels. It is the second one point quarterly drop in a row for South America. Asia Pacific recorded improvement for the second quarter running, with an increase of two percentage points. Satisfaction levels in the Middle East improved by one percentage point while in North America there was no change.

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Regional comparisons with performance in Q1 2016

The Duty Free World Council said ‘Value for money’ had moved into first place as the most important factor in determining overall satisfaction levels. It pushed ‘uniqueness of products/services’ into second place. ‘Range of affordable products’ moved ahead of ‘service level’ into fourth position.

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The KPI Monitor also showed a drop in the percentage of travellers expressing confusion over customs rules. 38% of shoppers surveyed said they were not well informed about the customs regulations, which is -2% less than in Q4 2015. There was also a -2% drop in the number of shoppers who said they refrained from purchasing due to confusion over the rules and the fear of having their goods confiscated.

Travellers are using technology more frequently while shopping in duty free and travel retail, according to the research. However, adoption levels are “still relatively low”, with 17% of those surveyed saying they used electronic devices for shopping information. This is up from 15% in Q4 2015. Fewer people claimed never to use electronic devices for shopping information – 49% compared to 53% in Q4 2015.

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Less than half of shoppers compare prices with other duty free shopping locations, downtown or on the internet, but the percentage has increased by +2% to 46%. 9% of shoppers are comparing prices to internet retailers, a +3% increase versus Q1 2016. 19% are comparing to downtown retailers, a -1% drop versus Q1 2016.

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