Aspirations and trends of today’s travelers

Meeting consumer satisfaction demands means understanding consumer needs, from food intolerances to Wi–Fi, from the pleasure of a good book to the choice of the right gift.

In order to ensure products and services variety it is important to disseminate a culture based on customer orientation transversally, throughout the organization, and this means not only paying attention to customer needs, but also interpreting new consumer attitudes and trends.

Autogrill Group customer orientation is often reflected in its traditional services and products recognized as simply “Autogrill”, such as, for instance, the children’s menus or the “Pet Park” service on the highways dedicated to the pets. However, the true challenge in recent years has been understanding new trends and promptly translating them into new opportunities.
This includes maintaining traditional products and services, that customers immediately recognize, but also proposing new solutions and concepts that satisfy consumers’ need for novelty and, thus, stimulate new consumer experiences.

Thanks to its privileged position, the Group developed particular attention over the years towards different types of customers, with different travelling habits, and in this respect the Group acted as an observatory, capturing emerging trends among those on the move. The observations led to the identification of new trends that directly refer to the Group’s two business sectors: Food & Beverage and Travel Retail.

In particular, important signals are being registered in the airport channel. Airports represent the front where the Group intends to test advanced solutions and services, by introducing information and communication services aimed at satisfying the needs of increasingly demanding consumers and, specifically, those of higher standing, who make intensive use of information technology tools. 24h information services are therefore provided in the locations and this is the result of collaborations with networks like CNN and Fox News Channel, set in modern design spaces.

A concrete change in consumer habits is easily detectable in people’s diet, where different factors combine together and play various roles. On a global scale an increasing number of people prefer not to eat meat: there are more vegetarians, and some avoid eating any food product that is derived from animals, like the vegans, mainly for ethical reasons. In addition, there are other important phenomena that relate to food intolerances, like intolerance to gluten (coeliacs), and dietary habits based on one’s own cultural and religion-based orientation (Muslims), as well as people who are simply dieting to keep fit.

However, this is not all. There is a new trend in Europe towards Asian food and the discovery of new flavors and aromas. This is partly due to the fact that people travel more and visit exotic destinations, on the one hand, and to the presence of foreign communities in various countries, on the other, accelerating this exploratory tendency. This renewed attention to exotic food and foreign food cultures is often coupled with a preference for Fair Trade products, which do not only offer exotic and healthy foods, but also support producers and farmers, protect the environment and ensure social services to the grower communities.

In Italy as well, several large scale changes in dietary habits have been registered, though these refer to an environment in which food tradition and culture are truly unique in the world. Since the outset, Autogrill has made a concerted effort to provide the flavors of authentic local specialties, and today it continues its commitment in this sense. The Group does not only satisfy the increasing needs of its customers in terms of quality and food variety; it also proactively plays a leading role in disseminating a food culture dedicated to DOC, DOP, IGP, DOCG certified products and regional specialties in close collaboration with Autogrill personnel, who live in the same area and know it well.

A sustainable answer

Sustainability results and objectives

Objectives declared for 2010
Gradual expansion of the new concepts and/ or of the commercial offer in other countries and/or other business sectors based on the needs and feedback derived from the market

Projects and results
Dissemination of the concepts most appreciated by consumers (Asia), of popular products (regional specialties) and, always in line with market needs, a new proposition for casual dining (including table service). Extension of the wi-fi areas and an increasing number of locations now also offer aperitifs

Target for 2011
To continue the expansion of the new concepts and/or the commercial offer in other countries and/or other business sectors based on market needs and feedback

DUTY–FREE: THE IDEAL OBSERVATION POINT

Duty–Free shops have turned into locations where one can observe new purchasing behavior and map global styles and trends.

In the Travel Retail & Duty–Free sector, Autogrill Group registered an increasing request for new and particularly relevant consumption models. First and foremost, a change in the selection criteria was observed, in relation to food products or consumer goods in general, by consumers who have become increasingly knowledgeable and demanding. In particular, in lieu of an approach in which customers directly bought what they wanted, now they rationally and strategically postpone purchases until they reach the Duty–Free area, where products are significantly less expensive.

In recent years, Duty–Free shops extended promotions to include major brands, increasing their attractiveness and thus becoming more like shopping malls, in line with customer needs in the current economic scenario.
The value created for the customer derives from a combination of multiple factors: price, product, quality, service, environment and purchasing experience, which contribute to determining what is defined as “a unique and engaging shopping experience”. By following this trend, Autogrill Group succeeded in maintaining the right mix in its brand portfolio over the years, in all the major product categories. In particular, the new luxury and exclusive products benefiting from the Tax and Duty-Free regime represent an important element to support sales and recent data confirmed this trend: travellers who are used to buying products in Duty– Free shops spend more there today than they did in the past.

Duty–Free shops are not only important as an observation point for tracking emerging purchasing behavior: they also provide a map of the most successful products, broken down by the different geographical areas and cultures in the world. For example, the Beauty and Cosmetics products, and especially fragrances, are the best-selling product category in the UK and in Spain, as well as in Latin America and Middle East, followed by tobacco. The British and Americans are the primary customers for products in the Drink category. Among other products, regional specialties (oil, cheese and ham), in small packages and often bought as gifts are increasingly popular with duty-free consumers. In the past two years, interest in typical regional products has grown substantially, especially in relation to Confectionary & fine foods. In tourist airports, souvenirs also proved extremely successful. British and German travellers buy souvenirs frequently and in large quantities. In airports characterized by intense business traffic, exclusive and custom products claim the lion’s share, products which cannot be found anywhere else. The Madrid airport posts record numbers in this category. Conversely, in Kuwait and Sri Lanka, some products that are commonly available elsewhere, such as soft drinks or powdered milk, considered indispensable, are purchased in dutyfree shops because of the savings.

THE SUCCESS OF THE AUTOGRILL BOOKSHOP

The traditional “on the road” bookshop posted an important record: it stimulates the desire to read a book in Italy, a country notoriously averse to reading for pleasure.

Since the ’90s, Autogrill has progressively solidified its claim to the title of “on the road” bookshop, dedicating extended areas of its stores to books and registering an increasing sales trend in a bear market for books. Autogrill is firmly committed to this segment and, consequently, needs to stay abreast of market trends. The latest report on the publishing segment drafted by the Italian Association of Publishers reveals that out of 25 million readers, less than half read at least 3 books a year and, among these, only 15.2% reads a book every month.

+1.9% sales of books in Italy in 2010

+12.3% sales of books at Autogrill stores in Italy in 2010

This rather disheartening scenario is in contrast with the growing book sales registered by Autogrill Italia. The habit of purchasing a book in the Autogrill stores and reading it during the journey or on holiday is confirmed, year after year, so much so that it has turned into a ritual for travellers and tourists, with steady growth.
In fact, from 2004 to date, book sales have nearly tripled, increasing from 600,000 to over a million units. In particular, in 2010 approximately 1.2 million books were sold in Italy, up 12.3% against the previous year. If one considers that, according to the Book Scan – Nielsen report, in the same time span the number of books sold throughout the country only grew 1.9%, the Autogrill figures represents a record high, with a promising outlook for the future.

Once again it is the focus on consumers that allows the Group to make the right decisions. In Autogrill stores, books are presented to consumers in an informal way, they are in easy reach and can be browsed freely while enjoying a cup of coffee or a snack. In addition, in collaboration with the major sector-specific observatories, Autogrill has acquired in-depth knowledge of the targets through dedicated market research, based on which it modulates the product offering. Autogrill bookshops offer volumes from Italy’s leading publishers, including novels and nonfiction works, manuals and business books, as well as books for children and toddlers.

 

NEW TRENDS FROM ETHNIC TO ETHICAL

Consumption of ethnic food in Europe is growing and now accounts for € 4.1 billion yearly. The countries in which ethnic cuisine is appreciated most are Great Britain (€ 2.3 billion), France, Germany and the Netherlands. At the continental level, Chinese cuisine and the food of the Far East in general are the most popular (42%), followed by Mexican and Latin American (27%) and Indian (25%). Also emerging in the ethnic food sector are Thai, Japanese and Caribbean cuisine. Interest in ethnic food has also grown in Italy in recent years. In fact, interest towards other cultures increased from 28% in 2008 to 37% of the population in 2009 *.
This phenomenon is also accompanied by an increasing focus on the ethical aspects relating to the purchase and consumption of food products. Autogrill made the decision to support this emerging trend at the Amsterdam airport and in some locations in the Australasia region, where 75% of the coffee derives from Fair Trade; in the US, a selection of products has been included in the commercial offer, all grown without pesticides, GMOs, gluten and fats and harvested by hand. In addition, the products are US Trans Fair certified and guarantee that the money paid by consumers is used to contribute to the economic stability of farmers, who sell at a fixed price, thus providing them with the possibility of planning investments in product quality.

* Source: Leather Head Food International