Neil Ebbutt, Director Global Travel Retail, Rituals Cosmetics, interviewed by Marta Dimitrova.
The general move towards products that offer an experiential dimension, especially among millennials, is a trend that is increasingly influencing customer expectations of the travel retail offer.
Rituals, the home & body cosmetics brand, that turns everyday routines into more meaningful rituals, has recognised the potential of travel retail as a platform for innovation and as a highly effective shop window to fast forward international status and awareness. “We have always set out to create innovative products that deliver a unique and authentic user experience,” comments Neil Ebbutt, Director Global Travel Retail, Rituals Cosmetics. “In our case, that is the promise of a unique experience based on ancient eastern traditions that transform everyday routines into more meaningful rituals. So, in product terms Rituals is ideally positioned to meet that trend.”
Rituals’ ambition is to build a global lifestyle brand and its distribution strategy covers direct retail, wholesale, online and travel retail. In 2017, the brand’s travel retail business grew by over 52% with sales in airport standalone stores contributing significantly to that performance.
Currently, Rituals has four standalone stores in Amsterdam Schiphol, as well as stores in Arlanda, Vienna, Eindhoven, Zurich, Luton and Munich airports.
“Individual performances have been excellent,” enthuses Ebbutt. “For example, the Schiphol Schengen store is up 15% year on year, the Zurich landside store is up 20% over 2016 and the Stansted store is up 13% year on year. These like for like increases are well ahead of the percentages of passenger growth or the growth of travel retail generally. There is no doubt that standalone speciality retail stores are exceptional business drivers and really gives us the opportunity to present the brand in the best light with the full assortment and excellent service which the Rituals customers have become accustomed to.”
Indeed, the extra space provided by a standalone airport shop, is of great advantage. For Rituals, this gives it an opportunity not only to offer airport passengers a very much wider range of products, but it also helps the company bring its core message to life by creating opportunities for experiential engagement with customers, such as spa services in 15 mins and water basins that allow customers to try the products before buying.
In terms of Rituals’ shop in shop units inside the airport retailer’s main duty and tax free stores, the company relies on great merchandising and display design and collaboration in promotional activity with activations such as pop up promotional sites.
The company also organises special promotions to attract customers. For instance, the brand recently ran a “podium” secondary site promoting the Rituals limited edition range, Anahata, in Oslo, Terminal 2, Departures East.
Ebbutt adds: “And of course, nothing is more important than well-trained and motivated store staff with a real knowledge and passion for our products and an ability to communicate that passion with enthusiasm and conviction. We added a dedicated TR (travel retail) trainer to the expanding TR team at the start of this year which is greatly appreciated by our partners’ store teams.”
Looking ahead, Rituals is determined to build on its standalone portfolio, which will create more opportunities for innovation and experiential engagement with customers.
“Consumers in airport travel retail also have so much more now to distract them from shopping especially the increasingly attractive food & beverage offers and the growing availability of free WiFi for their own digital devices. We can no longer just expect them to drop in to kill time and perhaps buy. They have to believe that there is a richer experience for them in store and that is where we want to work with retailers to deliver more than just great merchandising of great products,” Ebbutt concludes.